Sunday, April 30, 2006

Like So Totally Random

random (adjective) happening, done or chosen by chance rather than according to a plan

I’ve been hearing ‘random’ a lot recently. It seems to be mainly used by young women and used in the same way that ‘totally’ or ‘like’ are used.

This morning whilst buying Sunday papers I overheard one young girl say to another,

“I’m just like randomly swapping jobs.”

The other day at work G said,

“That’s just like our Shona to be telling her life story to some random stranger.”

So is ‘random’ where it’s at these days? Or am I behind the times?


Adam said...

Never thought about that... though I do use random a lot now that I think about it
I'm doing alot of work on my blog today!! :D

ed said...

'Random' is like, totally so 2004. Or it might even be 2002. I can't remember. I was using it in that context within my first dozen posts, back in the dark days of Jan 03, I know that.

The random wordage that's getting me at the minute is the milly usage of the phrase "Oh mummy", taken to mean "I can't believe that ....". Ie, some strange tweenager shouting Oh mummy, I can't believe she got off with Sean Paul, she knows I'm so in love with him. At 2am. Outside my front door. At the cops.

Ah, the joys of Belfast kids.

Caroline said...

I've just randomly hit the link for your blog over on Cyberscribes :)

Nelly said...

Adam - glad to hear you're getting that (purple?) blog together.

City Boy Ed - probably has taken the random word a while to hit hicksville. But that 'oh mummy' one must be a retro comeback for I remember it being common usage in 1974.

Caroline - welcome!

Mr Bolan said...

Well, now, y'see it all depends firstly what you mean by random, and secondly whether you consider random to be a meaningful concept, or even philisophically sound.

Physically speaking, I don't believe there is such a concept, as it is more probabalistic than random. Does something with a vanishingly small probability mean it is random? No, just unlikely to happen. Whereas something with a probabilityh approaching one is more than likely to happen.

Radioactive decay, you say? Hardly random. Thermodynamical systems? Surely not.

Back to the spides and millies, sure they don't use English in a meaningful way, so God know what they intend it to mean. I would guess something that exists outside their own limited sphere of influence.

Nothing is random.

Nelly said...

Mr Bolan - I'm only going to challenge you on one thing (for the rest of what you say is profound and true and I worship at your black converse all-stars etc. etc.) That thing is - the users of random are not spides & millies but young and reasonably articulate peeps. Spides & millies rarely use words more than four letters long i.e. eff-you-see-kay or gee-aye-urr-oh.

Mr Bolan said...

Aha. I blame television then. Is there some televisual entertainment programme from the New World whose main protgonists use such vernacular?

Nelly said...

I would hardly know. I'll ask Hannah.

Could it have filtered down from the West Coast of America via movies, MTV, Nicole Richie, whatever?

Isn't that where 'like' and 'totally' came from? And what about 'Oh. My. God.'?

Does Radio 1 have anything to do with this blight? Again I would hardly know although The Archers makes a brave attempt to keep up with modern mores. Re Radio 1, we'll have to consult His Edness, as I believe he often has his wireless tuned to that particular station.

Beowulf said...

There's no such thing as random!

Nelly said...

Do you mean by 'no such thing as random' that everything is pre-ordained?

Mr Bolan said...

I think he said a bit more succinctly what I was alluding to in my wending and voluminous use of vocabulary.

The opposite of 'no such thing as random' isn'that everything is pre-ordained.

Oh, oh, does this mean we can now have a long and intricate debate on free-will vs determinism, Calvanism, Hobbesian theory and ecumenical dichotomy?

Nelly said...

Feel free fellows. I'll just sit here listening and learning.

What I do know is next time I hear the inappropriate use of the random word I shall interject saying, "Gels, gels. There's no such thing as random. Dontcha know that everything, but everything, including your actions is determined by what has gone before and furthermore Stray Toaster and Beowulf...."

I expect strange looks and lots of puzzled head-shaking.

ed said...

re: the Radio1 butchery of the language, may I suggest that you listen in between 11 and 1 on a Friday night. The dancehall show is, quite possibly, the strangest thing on national radio today.

Nelly said...

How very intriguing. And it's not as if I'd be doing anything else between 11-1 on a Friday night. At my age?

Beowulf said...

As Mr Toaster points out, the opposite of random isn't that everything is pre-ordained.

Random cannot be proven, therefore it does not exist. Isn't that how it works? Or do we pick and choose the philosophies that suit us...

As I understand it (from Marc) random numbers can only be proven within certain limits, which I take to mean that philosophically random doesn't really exist.

The discussion I started with Marc about this ages ago was to do with evolutionary progress which is often described using the word 'random', that isn't true as mutations are more probabalistic than anything... blah blah blah, I work with crayons what do I know?


Beowulf said...

PS You can't really 'butcher' the english language, and therein lies it's strength. As apposed to French with the Académie française policing your every utterance...

Nelly said...

I'd agree with Beowulf that the English language is very flexible. What I'd like to know is what exactly does random mean in this most recent usage.

Poincare's toupee said...

Wolfram on random numbers may help.

May we never have a language comittee. This is why I am not overly a grammar nazi. English changes, it always has. But what we need, when trying to discuss something, is a common understanding of what we mean by our terms. We cannot have a discussion about _anything_, unless the foundational meanings are established. We may *henceforth* disagree, but we can't start unless definitions are established.

So when a given Young Thing uses the word random, we must ascertain what is meant before we can have a basis for dialogue.

Of course we pick our philosophies to suit ourselves, it is up to us to meld in new ideas into them, and not be overly (and overtly) dogmatic. Without jettisoning the core of our beliefs.

But what do I know? Nothing, I tells ya, nothing. I just hit a keyboard with fat fingers and a fatter brane all day.

Nelly said...

I'm going to Mingerton now and if I should happen to come across a Young Wan with a half-functioning brain I shall find out what randomness die mean to them. Goodbye all. Enjoy what remains of your bank holiday for I must go toil.