People in Northern California have adopted an unconscionable piece of slang, which is “hella.” It doesn’t mean anything. Most slang is convenient shorthand or a colorful way to express something stupid, but “hella” is an adverbial intensifier which can be arbitrarily inserted into every sentence, and it sometimes is. I do not exaggerate. I live across from Berkeley High and hear phrases like this all the time: “Man, this shit be hella whack!” and “I gots to teach my students hella biology.”
In the last three hours alone, according to anecdotal evidence, things have been hella: cool, cold, hot, silly, good, bad, decent, hellish, apple, giraffe, Watergate Scandal, the, 1934, potatoes, $3.07, and hella. You can also say “hecka,” if you want to rob people of even more life energy. But I don’t know why I’m even talking about this. If this slang migrates outside Northern California and into the American consciousness, the problem will become indelible. I know it’s just an inane little word, but until you hear it said fifty times within a single hour like a jackhammer going off inside your skull, you have no idea how big a nuisance it can be. Signs are indicating that usage could already be spreading. I think I even heard somebody answer their phone, “Hella?” You must listen very carefully to what I’m telling you: “hella” must be contained. We’re all at risk. It is the colloquial avian flu.