Buffing up on Buffy speak…

I missed the now cult TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer first time around but I’m currently watching my way through the third series with my teenage daughter.

Created by writer-director Joss Whedon, Buffy is an American TV series which originally aired from 1997 to 2003.  One of the distinguishing features of the series is its playful and inventive use of language – particularly the dialogue spoken by the slayer herself and her friends (the Scooby Gang).

The series turns on its head the whole cinematic trope of the ‘helpless blonde girl getting killed’ – in that Buffy has super strength and, although still attending Sunnydale High School, slays the vampires and demons that plague the town, which sits atop the ‘Hellmouth’.

Bonnie Kneen wrote a brilliant analysis of the language of Buffy in an Oxford Dictionaries  blog post.  The use of ‘in’ words for the gang is an important feature. They talk of ‘slayage’ and ‘kissage’, they use compound words, and incorporate pop culture references. Nobody ‘freaks out’ – they ‘wig’.

And, as Bonnie Kneen points out the show has given us new ways of talking -  “it was Buffy, both the film and the TV series, that popularized the use of much with a ‘preceding adjective, infinitive verb, or noun phrase, forming an elliptical comment or question’. (Geek out, much?)”

Here are a few quotes from the show to give you a taste:

“Yeah, I’m also a person. You can’t just define me by my Slayerness. That’s… something-ism.”

“Yeah, you’re the Slayer. We’re, like, the Slayerettes.”

“It’s officially nippy. So say my nips.”

“If the apocalypse comes, beep me.”

“Oh my god, he’s looking at her! He’s got his filthy, adult, Pierce-Brosny eyes all over my Cordy.”

“He got hit by the Buffinator. Now he’s powerless.”

“I’m jonesing for a little brainless fun.”

“No candles? Well, I brought one. It’s extra flamey.”

Analysis is fine and dandy but there’s nothing like going direct to the source to really grasp the Buffyness of Buffy. If you’ve never seen an episode of Buffy I strongly recommend you head over to Netflix.

In the meantime, here’s a video clip on Buffy speak … tempted, much?

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2 Responses to Buffing up on Buffy speak…

  1. Ciara Milne says:

    Hi. I was doing a research paper on Buffy and was wondering if “Buffy Speak” was actually used in future shows. I was going with a theory that the Buffy language inspired future generations of writers, or if this particular trope has already been used before.

  2. Sue says:

    Hi, I’m sure the language used in Buffy by the team of writers under Joss Whedon’s direction was hugely influencial on television writing in all genres. But, alas, I have no proof and haven’t done the research – I’m sure you a find some! Good luck and happy hunting.

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