Exuberant morphology

After I posted a link to Gay Pimp’s (Jonny McGovern‘s) “Soccer Practice” video on my X blog (here; note that this is X-rated territory), an appreciative friend sent along a link to Cazwell’s video “Ice Cream Truck” (Luke Cazwell, né Lucas Cazuela). Two outrageous fags doing white rap in a street-black style to a gay-disco beat. Tremendously unsubtle, campy, and also gay-affirming and often joyous.

Cazwell managed to get one of his videos (available for viewing here, with music that is, like McGovern’s, easily available on CD), “All Over Your Face” — yes, it means just what you think it does — banned from the LOGO channel. It has the memorable lyrics:

I masturbated till my K-Y faded [unnh] … I’m exhausticated

Exhausticated is the point at hand — a piece of “exuberant morphology”, playing on exhausted and exploiting that extra morphological material to go beyond it (as well as to make the line scan): if you’re exhausticated, you’re thoroughly exhausted.

You don’t have to be black or in a black persona. You could just be a woman pleased that she’s home from a trip but exhausticated.

Of course, you can get exhausticated out dancing at a club, and lots of folks seem to.

Exuberant morphology is stereotypically assigned to blacks and rustics, and to the “uneducated” more generally, where it’s taken to be a sign of ignorance in combination with a desire to “rise above one’s station” — and is therefore, like malapropisms and hypercorrections as a group, laughable. Flusticated for flustered and conversate for converse are often cited as examples.

But even if exuberant morphology sometimes has its roots in these motives, it can also originate as creative wordplay, and whatever its origins, can spread for its affective value and its value as a mark of membership in a social group. (It’s a mistake to think that knowing what people say leads you right to knowing why they say it.)  In fact, people are often willing to try to explain the details of how flusticate is different from fluster, conversate from converse, and exhausticate from exhaust. And to try to say who uses these non-standard items in what contexts, though that’s an even harder task than saying what they convey.

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