The YS Guide To 'YS-Speak'
Good evening. If you'd care to take your seats, Professor of Linguistics Rich Pelley will begin his lecture on the peculiar subset of English known as 'YS-speak'. Or something.
YS Scan
Rich Pelley
Well, Spec-chums, for my contribution to the last ever YS I've been gently persuaded to present a small study into YS-speak. The spooky thing is though that as a reader or, indeed, writer for YS you can't help but pick up on the lingo used in the mag and start using it yourself. Actually, I seem to have started doing it already by addressing you, the readers, as Spec-chums; 'Spec-chums', I hazard, because you own a 'Spec'trum, and you are our 'chums' for buying a copy of our magazine. A bit further along I've also used the word spooky. My research suggests that, along with the word blimey, its arrival coincided with that of Matt Bielby. In fact, during Matt's reign as Ed, these words appeared in the mag at times more frequently than full stops. Further research suggests that this was caused by a mildly troubled upbringing coupled with an extroverted inferiority complex complicated by primary imbalance, or something. (A YS phrase in itself, spookily enough.) (Yikes.)
Viz magazine can also be held responsible for many of our idioms - or more precisely the Viz supplement we gave away with issue 25 when far more people had heard of (and bought) us than them! Implementing the word fnar after everything that sounded a bit rude (this of course proved fatal in a magazine where 'joysticks', 'tips' and, er, 'value for money' were commonplace), double 'fnars' for special occasions and, in exceptional cases, 'fnars' after words that didn't even sound rude at all seemd a good idea at the time. You weren't 'barking mad' or 'rather weird', you were completely hatstand. And if, as a writer, you weren't sure about a fact, rather than spend a precious few seconds checking your sources you simply tacked a bracketed probably after the dubious info. Lying, too, was no problem - the addition of a simple sarcastic honest let you off the hook.
The Voice Of God (A-ha ha ha. Ed)
The Ed's brackets have led a life of their own during YS, and I'm sure the collective Editorship won't mind me borrowing a few of them here to set as examples. The purpose of these brackets, as in magazines all over the world, is to remind everyone who's boss. When expressing any form of opinion, the humble staff writer or freelancer lives in permanent dread of such remarks as (Eh? Ed), (You're fired. Ed), (Are you quite sure about this? Ed), and (Don't listen to this person - they are quite clearly mad and will be shot at dawn. Ed) appearing when he or she re-reads their own article a month or so later. It is this sort of thing that fills the hearts of a magazine's staff with love and harmony for their Editor - not! (Luckily YS never seems to have succumbed to the perils of Wayne's World-y slang. This can most certainly be looked upon as a very good thing indeedy.)
    Er, what else? Well, there are everybody's favourites, the er, um and erm (with derivatives of anything from one to 100 r's and m's), and there's the fact that everybody seems to say and there's the fact. In addition, YS has poured scorn over the traditional concepts of grammar and sentence construction. Not for us the short, easily legible sentences of dry, unfunny textbooks - rather several short, easily legible sentences patched together with stale conjunctions in order to make a long, unreadable one (invariably and in fierce defiance of the educational establishment starting with well). YS and 'correct' English are strange bedfellows (to use a spooky sort of phrase - oh no!). We don't like to say things are diabolical, deplorable or tragic, we prefer to say they are crap. Bits of reviews or articles that serve no reviewing or article-y purpose are known affectionately as wibble, a noun also used as an adjective for describing people 'going a bit strange'. Any deviation from the topic at hand can be brought back on line with a swift but anyway, and we even like to admit our mistakes. Having found an error in the mag, readers can write in to claim a trainspotter (but will probably end up cruelly ridiculed).
Praise heaped upon praise
Synonyms of 'it's quite good actually' abound. In fact, every other word in YS means 'it's quite good actually'. Probably. We use corking, snazzy, beaut, smart, nifty, lush, gurt lush, gorge, peachy swell, fabby and ace to name but a few - even wazzy until someone pointed out it meant crap. Erk.
YS-speak really comes into its own with exclamations. Whatever your mood, YS has a word for you, or something. (Oh no!) (Yikes!) (Snip! Ed) The world-famous hurrah! has served us well over the years, as has the alarmed yikes!. Wagga wagga was in vogue during the T'zer years, and Duncan McDonald attempted to impress his very own yibble on the populace (but unsuccessfully, as nobody was as completely hatstand as Dunc). How well we remember oh no! and oops! (the YS equivalents of 'It's a nuclear attack', and 'I think I've just set off a nuclear attack' respectively).
    Apologetic? Try a fresh ahem. Relieved? Phew fits the bill. A bit antagonistic? You need a newly-picked you bast!, pronounced, of course, with a long 'a'. The list goes on and on, most probably terminating with a slap! from the Ed.
    Well then, I've almost come to the end of my word count and I haven't even got round to mentioning hmmm, squillions, utterly ber-illiant (or is that Timmy Mallet?) or oo-er. In fact I've completely run out of page and am going to have to stop there. (Except, of course, to point out that that we vastly overuse the phrase 'in fact'.) (And brackets too.) Class dismissed. (Hurrah! Ed)

Many thanks to Jonathan Nash for providing this article

Published in the September 1993 issue of Your Sinclair

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