Buffy (and SNL) ‘much’ much?: Slang research with Hulu.com, Part 2

[EDIT (6/7/10): I broke this long post up into two posts.]

This is Part 2 (Part 1) on finding early uses of American slang and colloquialisms from the television clips and episodes on Hulu‘s (language corpus of) shows from NBC Universal (NBC, USA Network, Bravo, Sci Fi, Sundance Channel, Oxygen) and News Corp. (Fox, FX, Fuel TV).

While searching in vain for the Steve Martin “NOT!” clip on Hulu for the Part 1 post, I found another “The Nerds” sketch from Saturday Night Live and stumbled on an old usage of yet another expression. This time it was post-adjective much? (e.g. “Awkward much?” for “You’re very awkward”).

I first noticed post-adjective much? in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer pilot, (“Welcome to the Hellmouth,” Season 1, Episode 1; first aired March 10, 1997). Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) informs Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) that there has been a mysterious death at their high school. Buffy wants to find out if it was the work of a vampire without blowing her secret identity:

BUFFY: How did he die?

CORDELIA: I don’t know.

BUFFY: Well, were there any marks?

CORDELIA: Morbid much? I didn’t ask!

(Welcome to the Hellmouth, 15:37-15:43, hulu.com/watch/48/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-welcome-to-the-hellmouth [EDIT (6/7/10): no longer available])

The construction not surprisingly predates the show, but I was surprised to find it two decades earlier.

On SNL’s October 7, 1978, episode (Season 4, Episode 1), with The Rolling Stones as host, the teen nerds Lisa Loopner (Gilda Radner; William Safire (1992) spelled it “Lupner” in On Language; Not! New York Times Magazine. March 8, 1992, 20.) and Todd (Bill Murray) are hanging out in Lisa’s kitchen:

TODD: I really need your help with my history homework.

LISA: Well, Todd, you know if you sincerely need my help, you can count on it.

TODD: Oh, good. Because I’m studying all about [grabs at Lisa’s shirt neck and tries to peek down her shirt] underdeveloped nations!

LISA (shouting and smiling): Cut it out, Todd! Cut it out! [lightly swats him away] Stop it!

TODD (points at Lisa’s chest and mock laughs to a pretend audience): Underdeveloped much?

(Nerds Broken Fridge, 02:37-02:55)

The bit is quite crass, of course, but there’s the post-adjective much? construction way back in 1978.

As if I couldn’t waste enough time watching comedy and other clips and episodes on Hulu, now I shudder to realize that there’s a corpus linguistics use as well. NOT! No, there truly is.

See also:
Gateway to Corpus Linguistics

Corpus.byu.edu (English, Spanish, and Portuguese online corpora)

Slayer Slang: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Lexicon by Michael Adams (2004, Oxford University Press, ISBN13: 9780195175998)

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