Reluctant Habits

The Mysterious Origins of “Oh Snap!”

Posted by in Language, Slang

Is it possible that the 1910 children’s novel, The Bobbsey Twins at School, was a prescient influence on hip-hop? “Oh, Snap! Snap!” cried Freddie. “Don’t go there!” But Snap kept on, and Freddie, afraid lest his pet dog be bitten, caught up a stone and threw it at the place. Probably not. But “Oh snap!” and “Don’t go there!” were clearly phrases that begged to be loosened into the English language. And they both made their way into the American vernacular through hip-hop. This article concerns “Oh snap!” — that…read more

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A Supplemental Lexicon to Ross Raisin’s Fiction

Posted by in Language, Northern England, raisin-ross, Slang, Yorkshire

Between reading Sarah Hall’s three novels earlier this year and Ross Raisin’s debut novel, I’ve found to my astonishment that I’ve become more than a bit obsessed with the Northern English dialect. One striking quality of Ross Raisin’s quite disturbing debut novel, God’s Own Country (known in the U.S. as Out Backward), is its reliance on very specific slang to advance the novel and to occlude the reality of what’s happening before us. I became so wonderfully caught up in the words that Raisin pulled a fast one on me,…read more