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"Forget about it!"--in Slurvian


A facetious term for slurred and compressed speech, such as Jeet? for "Did you eat?"

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Coined in 1949 by humorist John Davenport (see below)

Examples and Observations:

  • "Listening to a well-known Hollywood radio commentator some time back, I heard her say that she had just returned from a Yerpeen trip, and had had a lovely time nittly. I at once recognized her as an accomplished Slurvian linguist and, being a student of Slurvian, readily understood that she had just returned from a European trip, and while there (in Yerp) had had a lovely time in Italy."
    (John Davenport, "Slurvian Self-Taught." The New Yorker, June 18, 1949)

  • "Here are some examples of Slurvian: Yerp (Europe); forn (foreign); surp (syrup); human bean (human being); claps (collapse); myrrh or mere (mirror); fiscal (physical); sport (support); and hits, runs, and airs (errors). 'Slurvian words that, when spelled exactly as pronounced, also make good English words,' are considered 'pure Slurvian,' says [John] Davenport. Thus, lore means lower, plight means polite, gnome stands for 'no, ma'am,' and a paramour is a power mower."
    (Charles H. Elster, What in the Word? Houghton, 2005)

  • "Slurvian is not limited to New York City. The most famous example of slurred speech embodied in dialect is the Southern y'all, which has its equivalent in New York Slurvian alluhyuz. (That's if the emphasis is on the all; if the speaker wishes to stress the plural you, the phrase becomes alluhyooz.) And in California, g'yonit signifies 'get on it,' meaning 'get moving.'

    "These amalgams and other familiar interrogatory compressions--tsamatta?, hootoadjadat?, whaddyanutz?--have no meaning other than the phrases when separated: 'What's the matter? Who told you that? What are you, nuts?'"
    (William Safire, "Yagoddaprollemwiddat?" The New York Times, Sep. 17, 2000)
Pronunciation: SLUR-vee-an
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