Date: Thu, 25 Jan 1996 13:50:45 -0500
From: Jesse T Sheidlower jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PANIX.COM
Subject: Re: hella hawkin'
Mary Bucholtz wrote:
On Wed, 24 Jan 1996, Jesse T Sheidlower wrote:
Not entirely sure; it depends on how accurate the
transcription is. "Hella-" is an intensive prefix like
"mega-," that has been in use at least since the late
'80s. I've never heard "hawkin'" before, but I have
(rarely) encounted "honkin'" meaning roughly "exciting;
jammin', etc." Perhaps these are different realizations
of the same word.
I'd be interested in knowing where you've heard "hella." As far as I
can tell it's restricted to Northern California, esp. the Bay Area--does
that fit your own observations? I wouldn't characterize it as a prefix,
incidentally--what leads you to describe it this way?
We have seven examples in the galleys of vol. II of HDAS, of which
two are from Los Angeles (from Pamela Munro's two collections of
U.C.L.A. slang) and the others are not localizable. The earliest
is 1989 (two cites), but two of them suggest earlier dates.
I called it a prefix because three of the seven examples explicitly
use it as one (either dictionary entries defining it as a prefix
or an actual use as prefix, esp. "hellacool"). All the examples
are prenominal, and a use such as *"That party was hella!" seems
extremely unlikely. (Most of our uses are adverbial preadjectival,
but we do have an adjectival prenoun example.) But my position
isn't that strong on it, if you want to consider it a straight
Random House Reference
jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]panix.com