The Linguistics of Drug-Stories

Jemand, der sich selbst nur Melody nennt, hat beim Scientific American einen langen, tollen Artikel über die Sprache aus Drogenerfahrungsberichten aufgeschrieben. Dazu hat er oder sie die Experience-Datenbank von Erowid.org gescannt und die Daten ausgewertet. Eine linguistische Studie über „Whoa, hast Du auch grade dieses ganz grelle Licht gesehen?“ (<-- Standardspruch und Zitat aus Terminator 1, den ich niemals in meinem Leben auf Acid-Trips gebraucht habe.) Fuck yeah, Science!

The use of drugs beyond the pale – of acid and ketamine, vicodin and methamphetamine, pills, poppers, angel dust, tweak, molly, aunti, alice, susie-Q (and so on) – is stigmatized, marginalized, made to exist in backrooms and alleys, rather than coffeehouses and bars. […] That drug use is taboo, even for being so readily on display, is reflected in our language. There are straight-edge folk who can use “high” or “drunk” in a sentence, like a blind child who knows the sky is blue, and it seems they have some idea what they’re saying (though likely all they know is a bit about language, and the way words go together). But what of drop, trip, toke, roll, jack, score, smack, sniff, pack, peak, split, blow? Everyday words, surely, but ones that, in the mouth of the drugstore cowboy, acquire meanings altogether different from their common use. […]

What makes these visualizations possible? The usage data was gleaned from a manually-created corpus of single-drug experiences, which comprises the top twenty-five public postings on Erowid for each of the selected drugs. Erowid is a popular drug library that hosts open forums in which users share their experiences, along with detailed information about the amount and preparation of what they ingest, imbibe, inject, and so on.

Visualizing the Language of Drug Experience (via Protein)