Thursday, September 03, 2009

(untitled 314)

There's a new Strong Bad Email up at Homestar Runner. It's going to be the basis of this discussion, so I'll go ahead and wait here while you watch it.


Have you watched it? Well, even if you haven't, I'm going to talk about it anyway. Strong Bad provides us with four suffixes to be added on to nearly any word, creating humorous results: -valanche, -quake, -rnado, and -onsoon. He provides us with the following sample sentence:

This suckquake of a movie is a complete wastenado of my seven bucksonsoon.

For the most part, the connotations of each suffix are clear; they imply a greater degree of the noun to which they are appended, but in a pejorative sense (such as the case may permit; each non-frivolous case involves a negative noun). What interests me is that despite never having seen any of these suffixes used in this manner before (since they are all invented), I can clearly understand the meaning behind each of them through my native speaker's intuition. But can we divine the rules governing the use of each of these suffixes? Let's try.

-valanche. To me, this is the simplest of the suffixes. Adding -valanche to a word implies that there is a great deal of the noun in question, usually to an undesirable, or even catastrophic, degree. Examples given in the email are crapvalanche and pukevalanche, both of which are self-explanatory. The suffix tends to be appended to words with a negative connotation, although this does not always have to be the case (ex., "I can't believe I paid eight dollars for this cheesevalanche of a sandwich"). -valanche sounds most natural when appended to a word of only one syllable. Compare cheesevalanche with tomatovalanche* or dressingvalanche*.

-quake. Somewhat more complex than -valanche, -quake also implies a negative degree of a quantity or quality (ex., suckquake). However, this can also be used to imply a large amount of something in a positive sense (ex., meatquake). Since the suffix can imply either degree, its connotation must be determined by context, as well as the word to which it is appended. Compare "I can't stand the emoquake that is Panic at the Disco!" with "Which pizza would you like, sir? I'll have the pepperoniquake". -quake does not seem to suffer from the one-syllable limitation that -valanche does.

-rnado. Unlike -quake, -rnado seems exclusively to denote a negative degree. A term such as fishnado would imply an undesirable quantity or degree of fish (whether the creatures themselves, or simply the smell). Interestingly, Strong Bad initially refers to the suffix as -rnado, but only uses -nado. The -r, presumably, is frivolous. If -rnado is applied to a noun of neutral or positive connotation, it creates a somewhat unsavory feeling or condition (ex., cheesenado and sexnado).

-onsoon. Derived from "monsoon" and clearly frivolous.

See, these are the things that I think about that, for whatever reason, no one wants to give me a job considering.


Lisa B. said...

Oh my god I love this. Thank you so much for the alert. I will absolutely be adding these suffixes. I'm a sheep that way.

Jen said...

When I show this to David tonight, he will be absolutely delighted. He laughed for a good ten minutes over that email the other day.

Whistler said...

I'm having a fistquake of fun with these!

ambrosia ananas said...

Suckquake is the best thing I've heard all week.