This is going to be a very short post, but it's too good not to share. Yesterday, I heard someone describe another person as mindblown. It was clearly a single prosodic word, and was used as a preterite adjective. It seems to have arisen the way some other adjectives do, from a participle (like "burnt" or "downtrodden"). "He was totally mindblown by what I showed him."
Keeping with English's historical roots, it's also delightfully Germanic. Phrasal verbs -- verbs like "wake up" or "sit down" are sometimes separate words and sometimes "smushed" together in Germanic languages. An example from Dutch is the word for "participate," which can be literally translated as take part: deelnemen. From deel 'part' and nemen 'take.' When you participated, you would use the single word form conjugated for tense: deelgenomen. And here's a new English one.
There are a bunch of ways this could have happened. My pet hypothesis is people reinterpreting memes with "MIND BLOWN" to be a single adjective for the image rather than a statement, from the older (in the internet sense of old) "mind: blown," meaning "my mind is blown."
Not content to just love the shit out of this new word, I decided to look for its obvious relatives. And, lo and behold, people are saying things on social media like:
"What mindblew me the most was..."
"I've got video that will mindblow all of y'all."
Interestingly, I see a lot of people on Twitter using #mindblown in an ambiguous way -- for many, it seems most natural to posit that it's an adjective and not a whole phrase.
It's probably also important to note that people coin and learn new words all the time. What makes this particularly interesting to me is that it's a total grammatical reanalysis, and it's at least plausibly because of ambiguous input from -- Dun dun DUN! -- THE INTERNET.
All of this has left me feeling more than a little, well:
©Taylor Jones 2016
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