How To Talk Like A Wahoo

By Carrie Grigg

   So you wanna be a Wahoo? You've got the clothes and the car, the brains and the books. You're almost ready, except for one thing. You need the language and the lingo.

The first thing that one must remember when learning University-speak is that there is a definite right and wrong way. There is not getting around it; if one doesn't know his or her stuff, others will know. Consequences ranging from strange looks to social ostracism could result from a lack of knowledge-- so pay attention! Let's get started. Take for example, the area on which University structures are built. One might be tempted to refer to this as the "campus." But beware! According to Jeffersonian tradition, the word "campus" must be replaced by the word "grounds" in one's vocabulary. NO exceptions.

The other most important phrase for one to learn before coming to UVA concerns how one refers to his or her year of study. Again, a temptation arises. Years of socialization in the institution known as high school leads people to describe themselves as freshmen, sophomores, and the like. But be prepared to break this bad habit once and for all! Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the university, put great emphasis on the continuity of education. Since he felt that one never stops learning, one must classify his or her self as a "first year" or "second year" and so on. It is out of respect for TJ that this tradition lives on.

Okay, now you have mastered the basics. Let's get into the details. There are tons of little phrases which can be used here and there; the mastery of these terms is what puts the finishing touches on the new vocabulary. First, most of the schools inside UVA have shortened names. The Architecture School is the "A School," the Commerce School is the "Com School," the Education School is the "Ed School," and the Engineering School is the "E School." (The Nursing School has not yet been labeled--but keep your ears open--you never know when a new name will arise.) In addition to the schools, there are several completely random terms. Here's a quick list: it's the "Cav Daily" not "The Cavilier Daily," the "Pav," not the "Pavilion," "Mem," not "Memorial Gymnasium," and please, please say "AFC," not The Aquatic and Fitness Center.

And don't forget--the ever-industrious UVA students continue to make up dialogue on a daily basis--and it spreads like wildfire. Not long ago, first year students began to refer to Observatory Hill Dining Hall as "O-Hill." After several meals were served, this term quickly evolved into "O-Hell." As one can see, keeping up with constantly changing vocab can be tough. But take heart! Keep studying and in no time one can be speaking UVA's polished slang like a professional Wahoo.

ENLT 214M, OCTOBER 1997