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Old June 14, 2011, 07:51 PM
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Random and randomness

These words in informal American language puzzle me as I can get a fixed notion and I suspect that it has different meaning according to age group or its meaning may be evolving "as we talk" and it hasn't stabilized yet.

Of course, I think it's fair to say that all of us understand the basic meaning of "azaroso" or "aleatorio", and all its associations with chance and patternless outcomes. But the actual use seems to be random itself. For instance I think I understand "random thoughts" as an unchained sequence of thoughts and "ideas que van y que vienen" typical of people who is relaxed, or tired, or in any other situation that prevents them from focusing their thoughts. In that case I think "ideas sueltas" and "pensamientos desordenados" may do. Options are welcome.

On the other hand today I came across a video about some "pool randomness" with some teenagers fooling around by and in a pool to the point of hospitalization. It was apparent to me that they were just, if you excuse my French, "boludeando", "haciendo pendejadas" and other "gilipolleces variadas".

But I remember an interview maybe a couple of years ago where Letterman got Matt Daemon making an impression of Mathew McConaughy, talking with a Texan accent and speaking of barbecuing something and recommending Letterman "taking his shirt off to get more chicks". Letterman congratulates Daemon with an "Excellent!!" and Matt replies "Random!!". What did he mean by "random"?

Any insight on this random word is welcome.
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  #2  
Old June 14, 2011, 09:37 PM
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I looked up "random" at urbandictionary.com; from the posting there, it appears that "random" has recently become a slang term in some teenager circles. The postings also lead me to believe that the term is at least partly related to a current or recent fad for trying to be funny by saying something unrelated to the context of the current conversation. I haven't heard it myself, but I also have very few opportunities to interact with current teenagers. I don't know how widespread the term or the fad are right now, though the highest-rated posting at urbandictionary suggests that it is especially popular among teens and university students in Britain.
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Old June 15, 2011, 08:00 AM
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"Random" has become a modern phrase that really replaces "Weird" in some ways. It has to do with what wrholt mentioned where the statement/question does not follow the normal flow or sequence of events as expected.

In the Letterman thing, Matt Damon was saying that the question was not normal or expected in the logical flow. Letterman jumped to a random topic which was deemed by Matt Damon as "random" (not expected, odd, etc...)

For teenagers, a similar thing applies where a group of teens may be talking about a school exam and one person blurts out "I really want a new pair of shoes."

The girls in the group would say "Random!" in response. In this case, the shoe shopping girl was having random thoughts and expressed them out loud.

"Random" as a word has grown to also mean "unexpected" or even "weird" in some cases in American culture.

Hopefully that helps.
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Old June 15, 2011, 09:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrholt View Post
Ithough the highest-rated posting at urbandictionary suggests that it is especially popular among teens and university students in Britain.
Hopefully though not amongst the maths students, if there still are any.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Awaken View Post
Hopefully that helps.
Yes thanks, it helps me to feel depressed and old. I'm not sure which is worse.
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Old June 15, 2011, 10:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aleCcowaN View Post
There are words in informal American language that puzzle me as I can't get a fixed notion about them. I suspect they may have different meaning according to age groups, or that its meaning may be evolving "as we talk", and it hasn't stabilized yet.

Of course, I think it's fair to say that all of us understand the basic meaning of "azaroso" or "aleatorio", and all its associations with chance and patternless outcomes. But the actual use seems to be random itself. For instance I think I understand "random thoughts" as an unchained sequence of thoughts and "ideas que van y que vienen" typical of people who is relaxed, or tired, or in any other situation that prevents them from focusing their thoughts. In that case I think "ideas sueltas" and "pensamientos desordenados" may do. Options are welcome.

On the other hand today I came across a video about some "pool randomness" with some teenagers fooling around by and in a pool to the point of hospitalization. It was apparent to me that they were just, if you excuse my French, "boludeando", "haciendo pendejadas" and other "gilipolleces variadas" or horsing around as commonly used in American English.

But I remember an interview maybe a couple of years ago where Letterman got Matt Daemon to make an impersonation of Mathew McConaughy, talking with a Texan accent and speaking of barbecuing something and telling Letterman "to take his shirt off to get more chicks". Letterman congratulates Daemon with an "Excellent!!" and Matt replies "Random!!". What did he mean by "random"?

Any insight on this random word is welcome.
Nunca o* este uso nuevo uso de la palabra random, pero decid* hacer unas
pequeñas correcciones.
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Old June 15, 2011, 11:47 AM
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Thank you everybody. It has been very informative so far. I think I got the slang word for my region: "descolgado", a very wide concept that evokes the idea of a parachutist landing in our back garden when all we expect is a nice siesta in the hammock. Descolgados with their descuelgues ask the Queen which product she uses to get the toilets so spotless at Buckingham, they stop a line in the theatre just to hit on the box office clerk, they think that a microwave is a good idea to dry off their pets and their schedule to do school chores is 3 hours (2 hours sharping the pencils, 1 hour doing the rest). People on hard drugs are famous for having a behaviour totalmente descolgado, or simply for being unos descolgados totales, almost -if not also- loose cannons. I have no idea about how to say it in neutral Spanish or in any other locale.

Here's Matt Damon interview(I have misspelled it Daemon. I suppose it was a Matt Damon for Linux):



I suppose Damon uses "random" in the same way we say here "salido de la galera", that is, an improv hustled that may contain incongruences and sharp edges, maybe to prevent anyone thinking that he has a rehearsed routine to publicly mock McConaughey.

@Poli: Thank you for the corrections but, are you sure I should've used "impersonation" instead of "impression" when the "impersonator" is doing no effort to imitate the gestures and appearance?(ya se que McConaughey es medio un palo seco, pero igual)

Quote:
im·pres·sion
n.
...
6. A humorous imitation of the voice and mannerisms of a famous person done by an entertainer.
...

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
I first learnt the vocabulary on this subject from this episode of Inside the Actors Studio [People who like this sort of things will found this the sort of thing they like -Abraham Lincoln]

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Old June 15, 2011, 12:30 PM
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Your use of the word impression is valid but not best term. An artist's impression is best reserved for painters, poets in my opinion dispite the fact that in the not-too-distant past impressionist was a word for a comedian who imitated famous people. If you feel that impersonation is too elaborate a term, perhaps imitation would be a better choice.
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Old June 15, 2011, 12:40 PM
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I think impression is the correct word.

Matt Damon did an impression of Matthew McConaughey. (My preference)
Matt Damon did an impersonation of Matthew McConaughey.

Impersonate:
1. to assume the character or appearance of; pretend to be: He was arrested for impersonating a police officer.
2. to mimic the voice, mannerisms, etc., of (a person) in order to entertain.
3. to act or play the part of; personate.

Impression:
...
9. an imitation of the voice, mannerisms, and other traits of a person, especially a famous person, as by an entertainer: The comedian did a hilarious impression of the president.


Looks like both are correct, but I think impression is the more common term.

Last edited by Awaken; June 15, 2011 at 12:44 PM. Reason: Added definition.
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Old June 15, 2011, 02:02 PM
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Thank you both. I made a small research using COCA and it gives 12 instances of "an impersonation of" -including one involving 'an impersonation of a turkey' without capital t-, and 290 instances for "an impression of" which obviously includes many different meanings. Perusing quickly the first page of results I found many about "an impression of Name". Without taking the time to analyze all the instances and make a serious tabulation of data, I would say that both ways are sort of tied, but "impression" wins when a person is involved and "impersonation" wins when a profession or nationality is involved. But a careful look to that corpus and other sources could change the figures.

Thank you again for correcting my mistakes and feeding me with deep insights of how English works. These last few days I started to reference new concepts in English in relation with other concepts in English that I had. This is completely new to me, and maybe a sign of English starting to become language-2 to me after a whole score.
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