My encounter with sup…
For some time now, my flatmate and I have been concerned about the trends in spoken English. The length of phrases and words in common usage is getting reduced substantially. The downside, with any technique of compression, is the risk that one may eventually lose some crucial information without which it maybe impossible to decode the phrase or word back to the intended meaning. But the human mind, and this comment is made with utmost sincerity, is getting better and better at this coding and decoding. Sup was a case in point.
My first encounter with sup was in the form a cell-phone message which went like ‘sup gal?’ The sender, needless to say, was from the fraternity of ibankers and since I at that time was only an uncool college-goer, my first guess on decoding was: ‘super girl?’??? That made no sense absolutely (I usually lack any airs about myself), so I thought there should be a catch. In the next attempt though, I nailed it with the answer that made perfect sense and restored my faith in my linguistic abilities – ‘wassup girl?’
But sup is not just like any other compressions that I’ve come across so far. For one, I felt a sense of achievement in my ability to decode it, the feeling which is not very common with other short-forms. Secondly, the sound of sup itself is unique, or exotic I would say. Where ‘what is up?” would sound ancient, ‘what’s up?” too long, ‘wassup?’ too stupid, ‘whattup?’ difficult to pronounce, sup is just right – neither too cheeky nor too easy. It’s what I call the epitome of ‘coolness’. Hence without doubt, it has left it’s competitors far behind. If someone says sup in the right way (oh yes! There is a right way.) you just know they are as cool as you are.
But before I go on and on about the tendency to compress words, let me point out a few contradictions. There are certain words for which we have actually found more lettered ‘cool’ usages. So while the poor ‘what is up?’ lost out to sup, ‘no’ became ‘nopes’ and ‘yes’ became ‘yeah’ or ‘yeps’. Why that would happen could no longer be explained by communication theory principle of usefulness of compression. So here my theory of ‘Inherent Flamboyance of the homo sapien in a Social Setting’ comes to rescue. The idea is that as a rule (and this one is without any exception), every homo sapien (in our restricted universe of the corporate world) would try to behave or look ‘cooler’ that he/she actually is. The result is a decrease in local temperatures while an absolute rise in the overall temperature. This I think can be a cause of global warming. This also explains why the backbone of centuries old language would be broken in the span of last 50 years.