Sunday, August 09, 2009

Influential Speak of Geek

New York Times Magazine looks at the origins of fail! Fail has become of of my favorite interjections in life, in fact sometimes it feels like this one word said somewhat enthusiastically describes by life as a whole. Printer jammed - Fail!, trying to get to work on time, yet stuck in traffic - Fail!, the list goes on and on. #truestory In fact I look at my recent blogging as an epic fail, I haven't been able to write anything of substance in a long time, I blame twitter for this. It sucks all my attention, in fact this is where I found the article, from Jake Tapper's twitter.
Time was, fail was simply a verb that denoted being unsuccessful or falling short of expectations. It made occasional forays into nounhood, in fixed expressions like without fail and no-fail. That all started to change in certain online subcultures about six years ago. In July 2003, a contributor to Urbandictionary.com noted that fail could be used as an interjection “when one disapproves of something,” giving the example: “You actually bought that? FAIL.” This punchy stand-alone fail most likely originated as a shortened form of “You fail” or, more fully, “You fail it,” the taunting “game over” message in the late-’90s Japanese video game Blazing Star, notorious for its fractured English.

In a few years’ time, the use of fail as an interjection caught on to such an extent that particularly egregious objects of ridicule required an even stronger barb: major fail, ├╝berfail, massive fail or, most popular of all, epic fail. The intensifying adjectives hinted that fail was becoming a new kind of noun: not simply a synonym for failure but, rather, a derisive label to slap on a miscue that is eminently mockable in its stupidity or wrongheadedness.
I feel for a misanthrope such as me, it has become shorthand for life's shortcomings. It's geeky and kind inside baseball kind of talk, but honestly it makes the failure a bit easier to swallow.

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