I moved to
For months, I heard the word as join’ or jon’. I assumed it was an abbreviation of joint, which we’ve all heard or used to function similarly as a kind of all-purpose pronoun (“that's my joint” or “that's the joint”). It wasn’t until about the billionth time this summer that I heard the word that I was forced to ask someone point blank what the fuck was going on. By the end of the summer, I was working at an inner-city school, and I began hearing it literally three and four times in a single sentence. Hell, three or four times in a sentence fragment.
So, I started to ask my roommate, “Have you heard anyone use this word--” I was cut off, “You mean, ‘jawn?’” Apparently, everybody knew but me. My roommate, who hears the word in her office apparently as much as I do at school, explained that it wasn’t a slurred version of joint but a unique word spelled j-a-w-n that rhymes with prawn or yawn. I didn’t believe her. I understand appropriating existing words (skeet, to use my favorite example of the last five years), but you can’t just invent words, right? I held onto my jon’ theory until the next day when, with a little time left in the hour, I put it to my fifth period class.
“Guys, I have a white question.”
“What is jon’?”
My spelling and pronunciation were corrected, and the already obviously versatile word was defined for me as, “Anything.”
Last weekend, I was in D.C. for a show, and I had to run the word by my hosts. “Have you ever heard this?” I was assured that it wasn’t used outside
We went back to the apartment to consult Urban Dictionary, and it had this to say:
As a noun:
George: Lemme get that jawns
As a verb (and a noun)
History teacher: Hello kids
Kid: If we jawns that jawns can we jawn it?
As an adverb:
Ferdinand: It was done in an extremely jawn fashion.
As an exclamation:
Kid: OMG I JUST FOUND A DOLLAR
Kid: OHHHHH NICE JAWNS!!!!!!
This omni-functionality of jawn raises an interesting question: Could language devolve into nothing but a series of jawnses?