Word Viruses

You might know what I’m talking about when I say “word viruses” — and I’m not talking about Microsoft. I’m talking about memetic payloads that lodge themselves in your brain, sometimes even after hearing it only once, and you find yourself still randomly saying it years later. We all pick up catchphrases and idiosyncrasies and remember memorable quotes, but sometimes there’s no good reason for something to stick in your brain, but it does anyway. Those are word viruses.

An example: there’s a 20 second soundbite on Galactic’s Crazyhorse Mongoose called “Cafe DeClouet” where the lead singer talks about having his coffee, and his bagel, some hot chocolate. That album came out in 1998 and I quote it all the damn time.

Another example: there was an episode of “Mad About You” that I saw once, back in 1995, where one the characters picks up a habit of saying “splink splink” whenever he puts ice in a glass. It’s 23 years later and I still find myself randomly doing it (not every time, and sometimes it just pops out when I’m not even near ice).

How about you, do you have any word viruses? Things you don’t even remember where you picked up, but find yourself saying randomly?

2 thoughts on “Word Viruses

  1. Jessica says:

    Have you ever watched Pontypool?

  2. Nadreck says:

    I haven’t, but looking it up, it sounds neat! Memetic payloads was also a core concept in Stephenson’s Snow Crash.

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