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Ad Lib: - snarky or just plain wrong?
by Andrea Baker, Special to

Do you have a snarky infix?

Maybe you aren't familiar with the term -- neither is anyone I know. But then, almost everyone I know is, like me, hopelessly out of touch. In the age of hip-hop, you might say we're the polka. And nothing drives home that painful truth quite as forcefully as the alien tongue that has become the language of the Internet.

Though I found out only yesterday about the snarky infix, I learned it's been part of Internet culture for at least five years.

(For the record, an infix is that witty or ironic statement people insert in quotes between their first and last names when they send an online message. As in Andrea "hasn't got a clue" Baker. People who frequent newsgroups call the device variously a nicksig, an internick, an internym, and even a tmesis, the Greek precursor for the term. Leave it to the ancient Greeks to figure out that something akin to online newsgroups would eventually arrive on the scene. So prescient of Aristotle & Co. to go ahead and coin the term we'd need! I like to think the spelling is their droll humor at work, wryly commenting on the witticisms they were naming.)

Getting back to our definition. If Pulitzer Prizes were awarded for these nickname descriptions, the winner would be the infix that is snarkiest. Now there's a word that doesn't exactly fall like music on the ears.

The fact that I didn't know about the snarky infix would not, by itself, be troubling enough to keep me awake nights. I can take comfort in knowing that English is a slippery beast, always mutating and surprising and confounding.

What gives me pause is realizing that the Internet has a slangy, cool-guy voice that I can't imitate. It's the voice of the streetcorner-slouch -- but a modern-day mall version. It's the lingo of peculiar young anarchists who care nothing about the fine distinctions between "each other" and "one another" that Miss Purtle drummed into her dull-witted students years ago.

Miss Purtle prepared us well for the society ball. But not for the Internet.

Cool-guy goes to Dogpatch?
So what am I to make of this strange banner I came across the other day: "Create an Invite Now!" I flinched, then squinted to see if there was displayed anywhere on the ad a logo for Dogpatch, USA or some sign that Ellie Mae or Jed Clampitt was a mere click away. "Pa, Miz Wartle's fixin' to cook up a mess o' possum stew an she sent us this here invite!" A Beverly Hillbillies online invitation service? Could be interesting. I clicked.

I arrived at, a pretty site that proclaims, "Getting your friends together just got easier!" but again exhorts you to "create an invite now!" Hmmm, was this site trying to imitate cafe society or be the neighborhood ice house? Or is something else going on here? Has the rogue Internet language struck again ... this time, not by taking me too far into the future, but by dipping back to '50s TV? lists scores of different kinds of events and lets you send invitations online. Everything about the site appears to be most civilized-from a color palette even Martha Stewart would approve of to a roster of events that presumably runs the gamut from poker to polo. Using Evite, you can meet a few friends for a casual afternoon of lunch and shopping or organize an entire charity event. About the only thing I didn't see that you could create an "invite" for was a wedding.

Now would someone please explain why needed to transmogrify the perfectly usable noun "invitation" into the repulsive aberration it chose? Does anyone really use "invite" as a noun? Is this the secret code those street-corner slouches are using to keep folks like me in a fog?

Sly devils.

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