Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Vadge vs. Vag: The Most Important Debate In Human History

I believe, with a conviction deeper than the Mariana Trench, that the short form of the word "vagina" should be spelled "vadge" and not "vag" as most people spell it. Here, I present the reasons why I'm right and why you should all obey me. This is a long read, so if you don't have the patience, here's the short version: I'm right on this. Trust me.
First off: neither spelling is listed in the dictionary. Well, not the one that comes up first on Google. I'm not going to bother with paper books. The closest I could come is a search for "vadge" redirecting to the definition of "vagina".  Note that a search for "vag" on the same dictionary shows that it's apparently shorthand for "vagrant". We're in a unique situation where the word has entered common parlance without yet being included in the dictionary. There's a word for that: neologism, or "...the name for a newly coined term, word, or phrase that may be in the process of entering common use but that has not yet been accepted into mainstream language". Someday "vadge" will be included in the dictionary, I'm sure of it. After all, "cunty" made it this year. But for now, we're left to decide how it's properly spelled.

My main argument is that "vadge" rhymes with "badge" and "vag" rhymes with "bag". Pretty straightforward, right? Except that when I posed the following question on Facebook...
When you shorten vagina, do you write vag or vadge? Think about the words bag and badge when answering.

...every single person replied "vag".  Not a single person agreed with me. I thought for sure it'd be 50/50, but I was surprised that even after I laid out a few arguments, people still replied "vag". The hint, the most basic clue to how right I am, was right there in the question, yet every person said "Sure there's that whole rhyming thing but whatever, I spell it "vag" and I've never questioned this."

The reason why otherwise spelling-capable adults are making this mistake is that they're great at memorizing HOW a word is spelled, but not at understanding WHY it's spelled a certain way, which brings us to...

1. Follow the rules, children

We all were supposed to have learned spelling rules in grade 3, but as is evident by our Facebook feeds, it didn't stick for a lot of folks. That's fine, we expect the stupid people to spell everything wrong, but this is a different situation where people who are otherwise great with spelling still fail to spell "vadge" correctly.

This website lists a bunch of spelling rules, let's cherry pick the one we need:

There's no denying that the /j/ sound in "vadge" is the exact same sound as in "badge" or any of these other listed words.  As for the hard /g/ sound in "-ag", let's use the songwriter's best friend, the rhyming dictionary:

Ok yes, there are a lot of made up words in that list, but the ones in blue are real words and they ALL end with the "-ag" sound. Of course, that's because I used a rhyming dictionary, but do you want to know something?  If you put "badge" in the rhyming dictionary you get only four words: cadge, hajj, madge, maj . I don't know what any of those mean, but I think this proves my point. If something is going to make a /j/ sound at the end of a word or after a short vowel, English spelling rules say that it must be spelled "-dge".

2) Hey Lefty, spelling rules are great and all but there are so many exceptions in the English language, why can't we just make an exception here, you gorgeous hunk of man meat that makes me question my own sexuality?

The English language is very fucked up. I've heard that it's one of the hardest languages for foreigners to learn.  This topic has been covered at great length over at Let's take a look at the history of spelling rules, courtesy of Cracked writer Kate Peregrina:

In the 11th century, English had developed its own standardized set of spelling conventions that had an almost perfectly phonemic orthography -- meaning that each letter had a specific sound it made, regardless of what word it appeared in or what other letters were around it. People went around saying things, and the things they said looked like the things you'd see on signs and whatnot... 
Then, in 1066, the Norman conquest happened. William the Conqueror invaded with an army of French, Norman, and Breton soldiers, who quickly established Latin and French as the standard languages throughout the British Isles. French and Latin words were absorbed into English like fried Twinkies in a county fair goer's stomach -- that is to say, poorly, and with much regret. "Seize" and "siege," for example: In French, those words (and those vowel combinations) have very different pronunciations. But that distinction didn't survive the migration to the new language, even though the spelling did. Now we write them totally differently but say them the same, because we're just giant wrecks here and nobody is coming to help us.

The problems continued: Norman scribes convinced English speakers to change "cwen" to "queen" and "cwic" to "quick," because, English being the language of the lower class, French speakers were the only ones who could afford any books. Naturally, those original spellings look stupid to you now, but that's only because you're not used to them -- if you're thinking in terms of logic and accessibility, why would you just start throwing "k"s and "q"s around like that? Someone's gonna get hurt. The "k" has those big sharp pointy arms, and that "q" may look soft and round, but it's clearly trying to hide some sort of little club behind its back. Don't you trust the bastard
Read the whole article here 
My point? Exceptions happened because of idiots a thousand years ago.  You know what else happened a thousand years ago? The Motherfucking Crusades. In modern times, we've adapted to a language that, for the most part, follows basic spelling rules, with a bunch of difficult-to-memorize exceptions.  I'm arguing that for any NEW words, we should stick to the spelling rules that we've all learned. Why complicate things for immigrants who need to spell the word "vadge"?

Who decides if "vadge" becomes a new word?  A new word gets in the dictionary by tracking its usage among regular people. If enough people use the word in the same context, it just "becomes" an official word. I'm fighting for proper spelling so that when "vadge" gets put in the dictionary next year (mark my words), it'll be spelled correctly. I'm not too worried though, because I'm assuming that folk over at the dictionary will look at the word, regardless of how it's spelled commonly, and heed common spelling rules in favour of "vadge".

3) Hey Lefty, "vadge" is a terrible abbreviation, it's only one letter less than "vagina", whereas "vag" is three. I can count. 

First off, "vadge" is not an abbreviation in the typical sense of the word. This distinction is necessary because several people have brought up this numerical "proof". Let's all take a second to learn what an abbreviation is:
abbreviation [uh-bree-vee-ey-shuh n], noun: a shortened or contracted form of a word or phrase, used to represent the whole, as Dr. for Doctor, U.S. for United States, lb. for pound.
While it doesn't explicitly say so in this definition, it's pretty evident from this list of abbreviations in the Websters Unabridged Dictionary that abbreviations are, for the most part, written and not spoken. Look at the list and see if you can find a single abbreviation that can be used in spoken word. Properly, I mean. Any of us can open our mouths and say "agric". I can also say "ungbatulark".

What I'm trying to say is, most abbreviations are meant to be shortened in the written word only. When the text is read aloud, we read the word that the abbreviation is meant to represent. Read this aloud: "I took my R.V. down Main St. to visit Dr. Feelgood so he could take a look at this growth on my vadge."

"Vadge" as we know it is most likely a word that started out spoken, and had to be retrofitted with proper spelling. As a spoken word, it's three syllables shorter than the root word, just like caf/cafeteria* and info/information. I'd bet you four dollars that caf and info started as spoken too. The spelling of their shortened forms were much more intuitive and therefore never became a hot button issue like vadge/vag.

*[edit: it's been brought to my attention that "caf" might be incorrect, alongside the word "prof" for professor, and that they should both end in double f's. The latter, spelled that way, should rhyme with "of", not "off". "Caf" is a different story because it doesn't seem to rhyme (spelling-wise) with anything. If you use "calf" in a rhyming dictionary, you get a whole mess of rhyming words with a bunch of different spellings. Note that not all words ending in "f" make the same sound. Of/if, for example. Now that I think of it, ARE there any other words that end with "-of" and make the same sound? Rhyming dictionary says no, and all rhyming words end with "-ove". Maybe the word OF itself is wrong. Same thing for "-if". If this has taught us anything, it's that English is indeed a fucked up language.]

4) Hey Lefty, you can't just change or add letters to a word when you're making it shorter, just to fit a pronunciation scheme. 

Just Watch Me, a story by me Lefty:
Stephen, an out-and-proud lesbian alcoholic, went to the refrigerator and pulled out a slice of baloney. "Hey Steve," said the baloney. "If you're going to eat me, you'll need some mustard, which is on the second shelf of the fridge, ya big old alky lez". The end.

5) What about spelling reform, you hyper-intelligent being from another, sexier dimension?

Holy crap, spelling reform. Some people think that they can actually change the English language.  There's a light hearted take on this over at Suffice it to say it's possible, with enough pressure, to change the spelling of pre-existing words whose spelling makes no sense in the context of English spelling rules, but I doubt anyone will make it happen within our lifetimes.

It's a neat idea but it doesn't apply here, because spelling reform "seeks to change English spelling so that it is more consistent, matches pronunciation better, and follows the alphabetic principle." It wants to take previously fucked up spellings and make them more intuitive.

In the case of "vadge", I'm just trying to fit it into the pre-existing mold determined by our spelling rules.  If you want to spell it purely phonetically, you could try "vaj" on for size, but the problem with that is that a j at the end of a word brings to mind a soft /j/ sound as in Taj Mahal. The difference is subtle but does exist: soft /j/ is used in French, as in the word jus (ie au jus), whereas in English it's a harder /j/, as in "juice".  So in English, we use "-dge" to denote the hard /j/ sound at the end of the word, even though we don't even use the soft /j/ so the distinction isn't necessarily... necessary.

Critics of spelling reform say that the written word, and not the spoken word, should dictate language. To that I say "I ain't tellin' ya to git the fuck outta here, but y'all should git the fuck outta here".  The evolution of language begins with the spoken word, evidenced by regional dialects of a single language within the same country. Those dialects don't come from groups of people living in an isolated part of the country and, within a period of several decades, coincidentally coming up with new words in writing, independently of each other. These new words come from people talking out in the streets or down at the bar or at the lacrosse match, and someone eventually deciding to write them down.

Joual is a GREAT example of this. Quebeckers are renowned for their complete butchery of the French language with their incomprehensible slang, to the point where you can almost call it a separate language. This Quebec slang is called Joual, and has its roots in the spoken word, not the written word. In the 60's, playwright Michel Tremblay published Les Belles-Soeurs, a play wherein the dialogue is written in Joual, and it blew everybody's minds. Here's an excerpt:
"J'pense que j'vas prendre le rouge avec des étoiles dorées. J'sais pas si tu l'as vu... Y'est assez beau, aie ! J'vas avoir des chaudrons, une coutellerie, un set de vaiselle, des salières, des poivrières, des verres en verre taillé avec le motif « Caprice » là, t'sais si y sont beaux... Madame de Courval en a eu l'année passée. A disait qu'a l'avait payé ça cher sans bon sens... Moé, j'vas toute avoir pour rien ! A va être en beau verrat ! Hein ? Oui, a vient, à soir ! J'ai vu des pots en verre chromé pour mettre le sel, le poivre, le thé, le café, le sucre, pis toute la patente, là. Oui, j'vas toute prendre ça..."                               For more Joual craziness, click here

My regular readers know I suck at conclusions, and that I tend to just end my writings abruptly.

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