The English language - especially the American version, absorbs words from every culture, industry, life style, sport or distraction. Many words, like "whatchamacallit", "whatshisname", "doodad", "gadget", "widget", "whatnot", and hundreds more are used as "place-holders" meaning they are used when we can't think of - or don't know - the proper word.
You can see a selection of these at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placeholder_name.
Every native speaker uses these in spoken conversation - but almost never in writing or in a formal setting. A learner of English, however, must, at the very least, know and understand these words even if they are never used.
The English language learner cannot be too careful when it comes to using these words correctly. Many of them have a very limited "shelf-life" and may only be understood by certain people - or those from certain regions or familiar with certain films or television series.
"Doh!" for example is from the television series "The Simpsons". There is, as with almost every word, a history and context for "Doh!" and the others and a speaker would be wise to look up these words - and their proper usage - before using them in public. Some can be rude or derogatory - so be careful.
Mastery of these words, however, will mark one as someone who knows - and belongs - to that particular group.
For a little more background on the history and use of these words, look at http://www.pbs.org/speak/words/sezwho/slang/. For a background on British slang, take a look at http://www.peevish.co.uk/slang/index.htm.
We are all learning. And it is always more fun (not FUNNIER!!) to learn together.
We can learn as much from the past as from the present.
Querem tentar um exercício bem simples sobre place-holders?
Clique para descobrir o significado:
- He's an ace reporter.
- Do you know where the action is in this town?
- My sister's boyfriend is a real airhead.
- all wet
- Your ideas about politics are all wet.
- I almost fell asleep during the test after an all-nighter.
- The gun was useless after the killer ran out of ammo.
- I really need some antifreeze in me on cold days like this.
- This town is really an armpit.
- What an awesome sunset.
- Wow, that was really a bad movie.
- He barfed all over the seat of the airplane.
- The boat was bashed beyond recognition.
- After working all day I am really beat.
- He just bought a new beemer to drive to work in.
- He was benched during the basketball playoffs.