Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Teh Hipster

I'm really behind on slang. I am still hanging onto "snap," and I'm stuck in the '80s with my use of "righteous" and "awesome." I wish I could bring back "hot stuff!"

I just learned recently what "teh" means:


As slang, grammatical usage of the word teh is somewhat fluid. Besides being an alternate spelling of the, teh also has grammatical properties not generally applied to the; in general, it is used somewhat like an intensified "the". The spelling derived from a typographical mistake seen as the symptom of excitement, much the same as the interjection of the numeral one between bangs(exclamation points).

Furthermore, teh is sometimes used in front of a verb in a novel form of gerund. The best-known example of this is the word "suck". Thus, the phrase "this sucks" can be converted into "this is teh suck"; the word pwn can be similarly converted (teh pwn). The latter phrase is primarily used by the computer gaming community, and often intended humorously.

In English, "the" can be used as an intensifier for the superlative form of adjectives;
compare "that is best" and "that is the best." Teh has a similar use as an intensifier for unmodified adjectives, generally marking a sarcastic tone. For example, "that is teh lame" translates as "that is the lamest." This is similar to the use of the definite article lo in Spanish. For example, "Soy lo mejor" (I am the best) and "I am teh good". This contrasts with the use of the in English to construct mass nouns (substantives) from adjectives, as in "blessed are the meek," where the meek denotes a class of people who are meek, or perhaps teh humble.

It is a pretty awesome definition. I read it and said "righteous, hot stuff!" Seriously, internet slang. It takes slang off the streets (where I definitely wouldn't ever hear about it) and onto the information superhighway (does anyone call it that anymore besides Al Gore?) where it is made accessible to ubernerds like me.

So now onto the current project, a Those Kids Today Vocabulary Lesson:

In the previous post, I mentioned mining the Facebook profiles of "twee young emo hipsters" for so-current-it's-tomorrow music and movie suggestions.

Let's unpack that.

(you law professors are fond of saying that, in addition to "disaggregate")


Pronunciation: 'twE
Function: adjective
Etymology: baby-talk alteration of sweet, chiefly British
Meaning : affectedly or excessively dainty, delicate, cute, or quaint


Emo (pronounced /ˈiːmoʊ/) is a somewhat ambiguous slang[1] term most frequently used to describe or refer to a fashion, style, or attitude linked to post-hardcore. Emo may also describe emo music or a general emotional state (as in to "feel emo"). It is also (sometimes pejoratively) used to identify someone who fits a particular emo stereotype or category or someone who is overly-emotional. The term's definition is the subject of debate.

I like the definition "post-hardcore."

You can vote thumbs up or down on your favorite definition of emo on the Urban Dictionary.


A hipster is an individual who avoids and often explicitly rejects whatever is seen as mainstream or corporate in nature, instead embracing alternative forms of expression. Often, these alternative forms quickly become mainstream or corporate themselves, thus creating an arms race between the genuinely trendy and the "played out." Indeed, even the label "hipster" is no longer desirable, and it is rarely used for self-identification, except in an ironic or self-deprecating way.

I think it's funny that this entry is "in need of attention from an expert on the subject"---who is an expert on hipsters?! Conor Oberst?

But if you need more help, try The Hipster Handbook.

Talking it over with Teh Ninja Scientist, he said to take out "young" from "twee young emo hipsters" since the youth demographic is implied. This is for the most part true. I would cap it at 35, as it was my 31 year old hipster friend (he who wears SubPop and Asthmatic Kitty t-shirts--check out the sites, what's up with the anthropomorphism---and invests more in his record collection than his savings account) was the one who said that my Converses looked too shiny and new. And then promptly stepped on my feet. Apparently, I can't rock the distressed, faux gansta writing graphic hoodie either. My hoodies are made of merino wool and cashmere. No, I'm not a hipster.

So, taking out "young," that leaves "twee emo hipster." Acronym this, Teh Ninja Scientist says, and you get..."TEH!" Back to stupid youthful neologism number one!

It may not make sense to say twee emo hipster hipster, but I'm going to run with that. Or change the first "h" to "hangdog" or something, to get Teh Hipster! Something you profs can go to, seeing as you like acronyms so much (IRAC, CRAC, RAMPS...) as mnemonic devices. So the next time you look at a student in your classroom, and his or her hair seems unwashed (it isn't) or you can't precisely read the message on their hooded sweatshirt (hmm, this young person is from Providence according to the school Facebook, yet his/her hoodie swears allegiance to someplace called "Silverlake", and while s/he is not a pirate, it depicts a skull and crossbones...), and the music blasting from their IPod sounds like atonal screeching or very depressing:

Refer to your handy mnemonic: This student isn't a failed screenwriter or songwriter in the wrong part of campus, s/he's a Twee Emo Hipster! That's Teh Bomb!

And now that you understand this creature really does belong in your classroom (just not your generation), you can return to your lecture on the rule against perpetuities.