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Ya Burnt: A Catchphase for Our Time

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Who knows how far it will go? The infectious "cut down" catchphrase; "Ya Burnt!", after exposure on last week's episode of NBC'S deservedly-hit comedy 30 ROCK, is poised to take the lead in American catchphrases. This is some really positive news in the wake of the mediocrity that the catchphrase industry has been putting out lately ("that's hot!"?... "That SUCKS" is more like it).

Used primarily as a declaration of superiority in a verbal encounter, "Ya Burnt!" is the next generation of the more lowbrow "Gotcha!" or "Suck it!" (Also used to great effect on the glorious 30 ROCK). The genius of the phrase lies beyond its natural instinct to be exclaimed with an "In Your Face!" (popular in the 90s) attitude. "Ya Burnt!" can also be used with a questioning inflective as if the one who is supposed to be "burnt" has to answer for themselves as to whether or not they in fact are burnt by the situation at hand. In this way it is an evolution of the still-sometimes-invoked; "Ya think?" which CLEARLY lays the onus on the insultee to question their very own thought process.

Although there's not a volume of data yet suggesting that "Ya Burnt!" is reaching beyond my household where I've been tossing it at my wife for almost a week, it seems to me that there is a bright future for a catchphrase that so efficiently reflects the level of discourse in our social, political and entertainment (the big three) realms. Perhaps truth seer Tina Fey has foretold the future by using "Ya Burnt!" in the episode's soon-to-be-classic Hardball scene with real live burners Chris Matthews and Tucker Carlson (who you could tell was "acting" because he wasn't wearing a bow tie) being "Ya Burnt!"ed by ingénue Jane Krakowski's ditzy Jenna Maroney character. Is it too crazy to think that politicians or their flaks will start invoking "Ya Burnt!" during what promises to be a vitriolic 2008 campaign? When will we see the first Post headline: "Guiliani to McCain: Ya Burnt!? " I mean the Washington Post.

These are difficult times though. Like any good catchphrase, in order to be truly successful "Ya Burnt!" will require heavy use by the Gen X, Y and Nexters. However, I believe strongly that it is so potentially sophisticated Boomers will be using it in divorce proceedings, book club arguments and sex therapy.

America, we need a new catchphrase that embodies our time, and "Ya Burnt!" is poised to move to the front of the line ahead of "Cut n' run." I can only hope that in this YouTube- attention-span starved era, when it's so hard to maintain a good catchphrase, "Ya Burnt!" is able to reach it's deserved greater glory on T-shirts, mugs, one-a-day calendars, bumper stickers, school folders, screensavers, ring tones, and as a staple in English As A Second Language training schools.

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