Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Speak the Speech, I Pray You

Did you watch The Brady Bunch when you were growing up?

Wait, what am I saying? Of course you did. 

Remember how Carol and Mike were always shaking their heads, bemused, over the hip teen slang that Marcia and Greg (and Jan and Peter and eventually Cindy and Bobby) used? Phrases like "Outta Sight," "Groovy"  and "Far Out!" 

Some words we used in the 1970s are still all right. "Cool," for example, in its laid back minimalism, hasn't really lost its relevance. "Neat" also works, in moderation.

Like any generation, though, my teenaged daughter and her peers have come up with a whole new glossary of terms for us. Many are shaped by the 21st century phenomenon of texting. So, for example, you don't just see the acronym "WTF" on your mobile, you hear people say it. The initials themselves, I mean. Not the complete (and colorful) phrase they allude to.

Language is a living thing. Sarah Palin will be the first to point out that Shakespeare himself invented words and turns of phrase as he wrote his wonderful (or should I say "amazeballs?") plays. In fact, without him, we wouldn't have such common colloquialisms as:

All's well that ends well
Brave new world
Come what may
Dead as a doornail
Eaten out of house and home
Flesh and blood
Good riddance

I could keep going (after all, there are another 19 letters in the alphabet and at least five times that many sayings purportedly coined by the Bard).

Who knows? Will one of today's teenagers come up with the next "What's in a name" or "Wearing my heart on my sleeve?"

Um ... doubtful. 

But, let's stay optimistic and embrace change anyway. As the mother of a teenager, I long ago (l-o-n-g ago) gave up trying to be "with it." As a writer, though, I enjoy staying abreast of our evolving tongue. To that effort, I've compiled some current teen slang for your reading pleasure. Remember, slang changes at the speed of ... well ... at the speed of a seventeen-year-old texting. It's tough to stay au courant, but I'll have a go here:

Bae - Special person, acronym for "Before Anyone Else," also short for "Babe"

I Literally Can't - Truncated exclamation for something that's so fantastic you — literally — can't finish the thought

Thirsty - Desperate for attention (not for water or Diet Coke or anything liquid)

Yaass - Emphatic synonym for "Yes"

On Fleek - Adjective meaning penultimate, exactly on point

Ship - Verb that means to support a relationship

OTP - Acronym standing for "One True Pairing," as in Katy and Russell (or not), or Justin and Selena (or not), or Taylor and Taylor (or NOT)

Turn Up - To get excited and prepared to party, related to post-partying "Turnt," which conveniently rhymes with "burnt"

Basic - A dismissive description for someone who is so unoriginal that the only place they shop is The Gap and the only music they listen to is One Direction

Throw Shade - To give someone the evil eye, particularly effective on the red carpet

Ratchet - An adjective for mean, annoying, gross or just plain nasty

There are countless others and more invented every day. In fact, if it's on my radar at all, it's probably way past its expiration date. Should we applaud their creativity? Or wring our hands in despair?

Oh, my young friends, speak the speech, I pray you. 

Because I literally can't ...

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of Lovin' the Alien at www.lovinthealien.com.  

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