26 January 2013

Gentlemen, start your engines…

RuPaul on the runway (left) & Judges (right)
…and may the best woman win. When RuPaul announces this, we know a show is about to start. But the fun is not restricted to the runway presentation of the drag queens; it also comes from how RuPaul & the judges use language during the presentation. What they say illustrates the linguistic deviations quite characteristic of the Drag Queen’s English.

This initial statement itself characterises a non sequitur sentence, since a woman cannot win a competition of gentlemen – it only makes sense as we know the gentlemen in the race are in drag.
Other types of strangeness can be heard during the runway presentation. Here is a top list of the first two seasons.
Season 1 (Episode)
Jade: African Style
“Ooh, it’s severe up in here.” RuPaul uses rhyming to refer to Nina Flowers – severe meaning ‘awsome’ (1).
“Ooh, lion queen.” RuPaul makes a reference to The Lion King in his comment on Jade’s outfit which has an African savage style (1).
“Tammy Brown is in town.” RuPaul uses rhyming to announce Tammy’s entrance (1).
Shannel Juggling

“Boom, boom, boom-boom. Boom, boom-boom. Boom, boom-boom.” Quest judge Debra Wilson says rhythmically as Rebecca struts off the runway, drawing attention to Rebecca’s voluptuous bottom (3).
“Oh my Gok!” Perhaps a slip of the tongue, but this is what RuPaul says after seeing Shannel juggling on the runway (4).
Nina Flowers & Her Drag Sister

“Do not accept an apple from this woman.” RuPaul makes a reference to Snow White tale, implying that Nina Flower’s look reminds the wicked witch (5).
“CE Oh my my my…” Merle Ginsberg comments on Bebe Zahara’s executive look, blending CEO – Chief Executive Officer – and the interjection oh my (6).
Shannel mimicking Hannibal Lecter

“Yes… Something to wash down the fava beans.” RuPaul makes an allusion to The Silence of the Lambs after Shannel mimics Hannibal Lecter’s slurping noise that follows his words ‘I ate his liver with some fava beans’ (6).

Bebe Zahara Bene, Raspberry Costume

“Ms Diana Rossberry.” RuPaul comments on Bebe Zahara, whose outfit represents raspberry (6).

“Fruit is the new fur.” Rupaul comments on Nina Flowers, whose outfit has pieces of mango in the collar and belt (6). 

Season 2 (Episode)
“Sonique-a-nique-a-nique-a-nique-a-nique-aaah…” RuPaul adds an odd eco to the contestant’s name Sonique in a manner that recalls the French song Dominique (2).
“…Oh, she’s making a Sonique boom.” RuPaul makes a reference to sonic boom alluding to Sonique’s evident large hips and behind (2).
“Oh my, this just is wicked…” RuPaul makes an allusion to the character of the wicked witch since the contestant’s costume reminds one of a witch (2).
Mystique: Big Queen
“I’m serving fish, honey – and this ain’t trout.” Jujubi says meaning that she’s dressed like a real woman, not like a drag (2).
“That girl will eat Beyoncé in one swallow” RuPaul means that the contest will obliterate Beyoncé fame and also alludes to the contestant’s plus size (2).
“Oh… my… sweet Gherkins!” Rupaul’s reaction to Tyra (2).
Sonique: Catwoman Style
“Even the cowgirls get the blues…” Guest judge Tanya Tucker alludes to Pandora’s Boxx jeans with the title of the 1994 film by Gus Van Saint (3).
“Julie Newmar eat your heart out… Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” RuPaul comments on Sonique referencing Julie Newmar and the exploitation film of 1965 (4).

“Honey, if that skirt were any shorter, we’d have to arrest you for dealing crack!” RuPaul uses a subordinate sentence that doesn’t seem to complete the main sentence; dealing crack is an allusion to butt crack (4).
Raven: Dress with Ruffles
These ruffles have not any ridges.” Guess judge Lisa Rinna makes a reference to the crinkle cut chips ruffles alluding to the ornamental frill on Raven’s costume (4).
“That’s tutu much.” Guest judge Mathu Andersen alludes to the tutu costume that Sahara Davenport wears (5).
Main Challenge: Mother Daughter Drag
“It’s ten o’clock. Do you know where your drag mother is?” RuPaul makes a reference to the popular question presented on American television in final decades of the 1900s (8).
“The apple bottom don’t fall far from the tree.” RuPaul modifies the idiom to allude to the contestants’ apple bottoms and their mother daughter resemblance (8).

This was a long one. I bet it won't feel as long as the two days wait until we can watch the new queens of RPDRace (Season 5 - 28 Jan) making an entrance and parading their English.

18 January 2013

Read This Blog to Filth...

I was helping Clifford – my Northern boyfriend – at the garage where he works when, out of the blue, I turned to him and said: “I’ll read you to filth…”
“What…?” Clifford looked puzzled.
“Would you say that I’ll read you to filth is a sentence of English?”
“Never eard it b’for. It don’ mek sense.” 

Ill read you to filth is often uttered by the queens of Rupauls Drag Race (see Drag Queens English). The first time I heard it was during the first mini-challenge ‘the library is open’ (s. 02, ep. 07) when Jujubee, hands on hips, pledged: “I’m not nervous. I’ll read a bitch. I will read you to filth."

to filth, I suppose, means ‘utterly, to the bitter end.’

Rupauls Drag Race only aired in the UK in 2009, on E4, and no further season was aired on a British channel. It was natural that Clifford, born and bred in West Yorkshire, never heard of reading as ‘the drag high art form of shrugging off insults’ (see DragQueen’s English: Vogue).

As a non-native speaker of English myself, I understand Clifford’s reaction to Ill read you to filth.

Reading, by the way, is one of the highlights of RPDRace in terms of English language. Each instance of reading in RPDRace becomes a fertile soil for linguistic strangeness. Here are some interesting ones taken from the ‘library’ mini-challenge.

Jujubee reading (throwing shade)
Season 2:
2.1 “Ms Tyra, was your barbecue cancelled? Your grill is f***** up.” Jujubee.
(grill referring to teeth)

2.2 “…legendary you think you are? Legendary… looks like leg.en.dary” Jujubee. 
(leg en dary
is homophone to
leg 'n' dairy).

Raven reading (throwing shade)

2.3 “You got a grill that could put Black’n’Decker out of business.” Raven. 

2.4 “You wanna call me a top model mommy? Bend over and take it like a man! I’ll be your top… model.” Raven.

Season 3:
Yara Sofia reading (throwing shade)
3.1 “It’s not because you’re Asian. It’s because I need some patian to deal with you!” Yara Sofia. (Yara pronounces ‘patience’ as patian purposely, and patian rhymes with Asian).

3.2 “Is that your teef or your feet?” Yara Sofia. (Yara pronounces ‘teeth’ as teef purposely).

Manila Luzon reading (throwing shade)

3.3 “Your blue contacts are so creepy, that it makes my skin itchy itchy itchy-pa’lante!” Manila Luzon. (Manila makes a reference to a phrase in Spanish used by Sofia: ‘echa pa’lante’)

3.4 “It’s Dinner time Delta, and you are serving body-ody-ody” Manila Luzon.

3.5 “I know you call yourself top model, but I think Tyra Banks and I would agree… you’re just fashion roadkill.” Shangela.

Season 4:

4.1 “Dida Ritz, I don’t know if that’s hot couture or hot coutorn ’cause there’s holes in that shirt.” Dida Ritz.
4.1 “Jiggly Caliente, BMW... Body Made Wrong.” Latrice Royale.
Each instance falls in different categories (which will be dealt with in future posts) of strangeness: while 3.4 has an unusual echo (body-ody-ody), 4.1 has a modified word or neologism (coutorn), etc.

Also, the degree of linguistic strangeness among these instances varies. And some may even disagree that they’re strange at all - comments welcome.

As I'm looking forward to the season 5 (January 28), next post will be on the top runways readings involving strangeness on RPDRace.

11 January 2013

Appy Nu Year!

It’s a new year off course. Twenty thirteen! We’re living the future. And nothing spells future better than SPELLING DEVIATION.

Appy Feet shop at Meadowhall in Sheffield

Now, when SMS (Short Message Service), email, and Facebook are part of our daily lives, when we are constantly communicating with others using a computer keyboard or mobile keypad (virtual or not), spelling deviation is an undeniable trend. Actually, this is the most ordinary type of deviation one may find in English.

'Sox' - Stall at Doncaster Market
'YULE' - Sign in Front of The Library pub at Headingley Ln_Leeds
To explore spelling deviation in English properly I’d have to start a blog exclusively on the topic. So, within the limitations of a single post, I invite you to observe pics of signs with spelling deviations that, perhaps, reveal tendencies for a new Standard.

Stalls just a few metres from each other at Doncaster Market
These two stalls, at Doncaster Market, sit just a few metres from each other. In the left ice cream and dough nut are spelt as two separate words each, whereas in the right ice cream is spelled as one word, and the spelling of dough nut is simplified to donut.

Standard spell is a question of convention and formalisation for reasonable use of writing in society.

OK Comics: Livraria no Thorton's Arcade (Briggate_Leeds

Spelling deviation is generally an issue of practicality and economy – i.e. communicate a word with less effort, omitting the spell of unheard consonant or vowels sounds. 

Example of this is the spelling of Daughter as Dotter in the title of Mary Talbot's book.

'Quiz Nite' The Centurion pub at Vicar Cross_Chester

Nite is a word that has its own entry in the Concise OED, under the label ‘informal’, as “a non-standard spelling of night”.

'Midnite' & 'Coffee 'n' cake' - Café at Headingley Lane_Leeds

And Nite seems to be quite favoured in signs - at least, this is the evidence I've got in the North.

Shop at Sunbridge Road_Bradford
’n’ or ’n, is another example that has a formalised entry in the Concise OED as a contraction of and.

Naturally, there are types of spelling deviation which actually points to a different type of linguistic deviation. 

LEASAGNE is a perfect example.
Outdoor em Bradford Interchange_2011
But this is topic for a future post.