words we only say at christmas

there’s a new vid on my facebook page with a special christmas wish and some thoughts about the evolution of english.

the dialogue at :05 is

generation after generation in the english language the tendency has been reduce, contract, abbreviate.

contractions are combinations of words written as one word, with an apostrophe in place of the letters that have been removed. for example that’s, what’s, don’t, can’t and shouldn’t. reductions are sounds that are not pronounced. kinda (kind of), gotta (have got to), ima (i’m going to) and tryna (trying to) are all reductions that u can find in other posts here on richyrocks.com. abbreviations are shortened forms of words or groups of words like nsfw for not safe for work (a warning not to open a file in front of your coworkers), lmao for laughing my ass off or u.s. for united states.

women’s health that might not be safe for work

fun esl practice :) richyrocks english on youtube

however (but), despite the prevalence of these phenomena in modern english, there are two contractions that are traditional at  christmas time but have been phased out of (gradually removed from) english in general. listen at :16

and yet, expressions like ’tis, as in ’tis the season to be jolly or ’twas, as in ’twas the night before christmas have disappeared.

’tis the season to be jolly is a lyric from the christmas carol deck the halls. ’twas the night before christmas is the first line from the famous christmas poem a visit from st. nicholas. jolly means happy.  yet, similar to but, marks a contrast; in this case between all of the contractions, reductions and abbreviations that we have today and the disappearance of ’tis and ’twas.

a visit from st. nicholas

a visit from st. nicholas is a famous christmas poem by clement clarke moore published in 1823. the first line of the poem is ’twas the night before christmas.

it’s a curious condition that generates this question at :24

wtf? was there a generation in there that said, “’tis, ’tis, ’tis’; ’twas, ’twas, ’twas. naaah. those abbreviations just will not do”?

wtf? is an abbreviation of what the fuck? which is used to show frustration or confusion. will not do indicates something is unacceptable and should stop. it could be written as the contraction won’t, like in the cool cut 99 and a half just won’t do by wilson pickett.

wilson pickett greatest hits

whatever the reason, outside of christmas nobody uses ’twas or ’tis nowadays…

cuz try to use ’tis or ’twas any time of the year that’s not december. people gonna be telling u, “stfu benjamin franklin. stfu ben franklin.”

cuz is a reduction of because. gonna is a reduction of going to. stfu is an abbreviation for shut the fuck upbenjamin franklin was a founding father of the u.s., and his face appears on the $100 bill. he can be considered an icon for the word ’tis as several famous quotes attributed to him contain the abbreviation. here’s a couple…

’tis hard (but glorious) to be poor and honest


’tis easy to see, hard to foresee

foresee means see the future, as in ben franklin couldn’t have foreseen that 250 years later nobody would use ‘tis anymore.

’tis benjamin franklin

and that’s the conclusion the vid arrives at–that it’s odd (peculiar, weird) we don’t still use ’twas or ’tis anymore given how many shortened and abbreviated words we use regularly in the 21st century.

a usage of odd that u probably recognize

are u familiar with deck the halls and a visit from saint nicholas? have u heard any other “christmas words” that u never hear during the rest of the year?  share your answers under leave a reply

merry xmas 🙂





have fun, amigos.

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