Language Journal No.3 Spooktacular use of language!

Spooktacular use of language!

October is the month of Halloween – spooky, scary and cold things are associated with October. From a linguistic point of view, October is the month of numerous blendings  and interesting use of language.  Halloween was approaching and the first blending I heard was ‘Oddtober’. Iowa Public Television used this word for advertising and introducing this month’s theme. ‘Let’s celebrate Oddtober together’ – was the phrase I heard on a daily basis. This word is coined by the use of the word ‘Odd’ and the word ‘October’. In fact, the ‘inventor’ of this word, uses the fact that the word starts with letter ‘O’ and blends the words together. The only difference that we hear is the replacement of the sound ‘k’ with the sound ‘d’. It’s a different word, but the message gets across. This is an interesting phenomenon which attracts the listener’s attention. It implies that this month’s theme will be ‘odd’ which implies that this is the month we celebrate Halloween. Halloween is not mentioned anywhere, but the listener can pick up what the speaker means.

Furthermore, the next blending I heard was ‘Malloween’. ‘Everybody’s invited to the Malloween event at the North Grand Mall.’ This is the phrase that The Mall used to advertise their event on Social Media like Facebook. Appealing blending – I thought. This blending presents a creative way of combining the words ‘Mall’ and ‘Halloween’. Even though in pronunciation these two words are different, the spelling of the first part differs only in the first letter (‘Hall-‘ ‘Mall’). Very innovative use of language! I love this creation of new words! But the fun does not stop here! The next word I noticed was ‘Bootober’. I came across this interesting piece of language on a commercial post on another social media – Instagram. This example combines the words ‘Boot’ and ‘October’. Excellent play with words! The intention of the inventor of this word was to combine the notion of Cold, Rainy weather in October and the need to buy new boots! I find this advert very original and eye-catching.  There are many other examples of this type of ‘playing’ with language. One more example is the word ‘Spooktacular’. My guess is that this blending combines the words ‘spooky’ and ‘spectacular’. I’m not sure where exactly I heard this term. I believe it was on IPTV, where the speaker invited the kids to wear masks and costumes and to go ‘a spooktacular night’. Another creative use of language! Again, the word ‘spooky’ reminds the listener to Halloween and even though this is a completely new invented word, we all seem to pick up its meaning! Pretty cool, right?

Now that October is over, I started hearing similar blendings connected to Christmas. One example can be the word ‘Santabration’. I am sure there will be a lot more and I will try to keep track and analyze the language use. I’m very excited and looking forward to hearing what kind of blendings American people will use in the spirit of the upcoming season. Personally, I find this phenomena a remarkable and artistic use of language to keep the listeners’/readers’ attention! It is mainly used for commercial purposes and advertisements and I believe that the purpose of the inventors of these words is to keep the listeners interested and curious about the product/event they are advertising. Linguastic use of language!

Key Words: Bootober, Oddtober, Malloween,  spooktaculous,  Santabration, Linguastic (linguistic + fantastic)

Phase 2 Preparation

The application was demanding. A whole bunch of documents that I needed to gather and the two most important essays that I just wanted to be perfect. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, you need to work hard to make your dreams come true and I don’t mind at all! I can do whatever it takes! Actually, it was my pleasure! (That’s how nerdy I am). Thankfully, my friends and family were also really supportive and helped out with great advice, and patience above all when I made them read my Personal Statement and Study objectives over and over again. Thanks folks! I really appreciate it! Special thanks to my dear friend Fulbright alumna Kristina Domazetoska who selflessly shared her amazing experience and gave me very useful feedback on creating my CV, among other. The most amazing, smart, kind and positive person you’ll ever meet! Thanks Kiki <3

Application deadline May 31, click SEND! Now what? Now.. just… wait….

August 4, 2016 Hot summer’s day. I was drinking coffee at ‘Galeb’ beach. Biiip – email! Gazmend Ilazi – mini-heart attack. OMG! I need to open the email. It’s crowded, loud music, Anastas is dragging me, I’m talking to my uncle. Oh yes, I still remember the whole picture. Moment of truth!

‘Dear Agata,

Thank you for your application for the 2017-2018 Fulbright Student Program.  I would like to inform you that we have scheduled your interview to take place at the U.S. Embassy – Skopje, Macedonia on September 1, 2016, at 9:00 am.’

WOW! An interview at the U.S. Embassy? Me? Really? With all these smart people? I could be dreaming… Thank you God! I started jumping and singing and calling all my friends and family. I passed the first round! Next step, the interview! Nope, not stressful at all… what should I even wear? What if they don’t like me? What if they ask me a question that I won’t be able to answer? What, what, what if I’m not good enough to be a Fulbrighter? It’s such an honor to have that title! Dear friends, everyone gets stressed in life-changing crucial moments. I knew these will be the most important 20 minutes of my life! Still, I need to remain calm and of course positive! Positive is my middle name. Yes, I can do the interview, I got this far, I will make it till the end!

September 1, 2016 9.00AM The Interview

There has always been something special about this date. As a kid, that was the first day of school and the marker of the start of a new cycle. As a teacher, this date marker the end of the summers vacation and the start of the new school year, meeting new students, meeting new challenges. On September 1st the air changes it smell, there’s always been something special about it, it has always smelled like a new beginning. This year it was the most special September 1st in my life. The alarm clock started ringing. I didn’t snooze this time.. My friend Kiki came to wake me up. ‘Rise and shine sleepyhead, the time has come’ – I said to myself. Kiki made me a hot Turkish coffee and went to prepare my clothes. I was sitting on the balcony, all confused, excited and a little bit nervous, I may say, thinking about how important today’s interview is. ‘The taxi has arrived. I have no doubt that you will do a great job, just be yourself, I believe in you’ – said Kiki and gave me a big hug.

The ride to the Embassy seemed so long. I could hear my heart beating faster and slower at the same time. Here I am, I made it. One familiar face opened the door –  ‘AGATA we are ready for you’ – said Gazmend. The room was larger than I expected. There were 8 people (or so I remember) sitting on the table. I smiled and said Hello. ‘These people seem very nice’ – I thought – ‘It’s not that bad, I need to relax a little bit and just be myself’. First question – ‘Why did you apply for Fulbright?’. That one seemed as an expected and easy question, but what do they want me to say? I started by explained my reasons and stated that Fulbright is the most prestigious scholarship that one can imagine. The conversation continued smoothly. I wasn’t sure I was doing a good job answering these questions, even though people were smiling and nodding. ‘Thank you for coming’ – said one member – do you have anything to add?’ Yes I do. ‘I just wanted to add that if we want to make a difference we need to start from the basis. Education is the foundation of every other profession. Let’s start by changing the education system by integrating new technology and  learning from the leading nation in technology, let’s make a difference in Macedonia’

‘Thank you for coming Agata, we will contact you as soon as we make our decision.’

Phase 1 – American Corner Presentation

As usually, I organized visits to the American Corner for my high school students. We attended a presentation about USA Education and how to prepare high school students to study in the USA. One of the staff members said: ‘If you are interested, next Wednesday there will be a presentation by the US Embassy representative Gazmend Illazi who will talk about the Fulbright scholarships.’ I marked my calendar and the day arrived.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016, 2.00PM. I was really excited and I had a good feeling.. It was an amazing sunny day. At the time, I was working on my MA in Macedonia and I was thinking about getting a PhD scholarship in the USA. I discovered there is no scholarship that directly covers a full PhD studies, so I figured, I can try to get some information about getting another MA in the USA in a somehow similar but still different field. I clearly remember Gazmend’s words: ‘You have to try, if you don’t try you’re not even in the game! And remember, the process of selection is completely transparent! It’s all up to you! If you deserve the scholarship, you’re gonna get it!’ Those words kept ringing in my head and I thought “Yes, I deserve this scholarship! I work hard, I am dedicated, and I am willing to learn! I’m going to apply!” And that’s how the game started!

Deadline for application: May 31 2016. I have 5 weeks to prepare, I better get started..

The best life-changing presentation and the most positive and delightful person whose e-mails gave me mini-heart attacks during the entire year! Mr. Gazmend Ilazi, American Corner Struga April 13 2016
A moment of truth! Listening carefully to the presentation and imagining myself landing in New York.. (which, by the way, happened one year and 2 months later)



Language Journal No.1 Have a good one! – have a good… what?

The first class in the USA ends and the professor smiles and says ‘Have a good one’! It took me a while to figure out what he meant. Wasn’t the phrase ‘Have a good day’? When did it change and why? What was wrong with ‘Have a good/nice day’?  What does ‘one’ refer to anyway? Maybe as a non-native speaker and a person who lives in a country different from the USA, I did not have the chance to come across this phrase. I did not hear it during my stay in the UK and it is not mentioned in any text book I read!  I explored the online dictionaries a little bit and I discovered that the phrase is actually in the dictionary. Oh, how ignorant I may be, I said to myself.

Longman dictionary defines the phrase as ‘American English used to say goodbye and to wish someone a good day’. It all makes sense now! In order to make it shorter and to blend ‘goodbye’ and ‘have a good day’ they came up with ‘have a good one’. They both have the word ‘good’ as part of the word/phrase. That is so creative and a real time saver. Furthermore, the online Urban dictionary provides several definitions which are more or less similar. The first one defines it as ‘A cool way of saying goodbye and have a nice day at the same time. It’s friendly, but you can also use it with people you don’t really know’. I like this definition; it says that my teacher is cool, and I strongly agree with that one. The second one provides the definition ‘Something you say to someone you don’t know at all or you don’t want to know at all.’ Ok, this one is a little confusing, and maybe the Urban dictionary is not a strongly reliable source, but I wonder, can I use this phrase with my friends, professors or only with random people I come across daily?

I cannot delve into deeper linguistic analysis of the phrase, but it is interesting because it raises the questions:  How much do English learners actually know about the language and its conversational use until they come in a native speaking country? Should these phrases be included, and very often, updated in the text books for English learners? How can we bring learners from other countries closer to the everyday spoken language?  I simply thought it is something worth saying and analyzing in the future.


Sources used: