Let me begin with a disclaimer. Yes! A disclaimer. Oh, you're probably thinking. That can't be good. If he's beginning with a disclaimer, he must be about to write on a pretty heavy subject, or be putting a heap of swearing in here, or maybe there will be sex and violence; perhaps a gun or two. Maybe I don't actually want to be here. After all, I mean, if this is the sort of sordid musings I can expect from this point on, perhaps I'll just go and find a post with more wholesome content.
Well, no, that's not quite what you'll find here. You shouldn't have to run off just yet. There won't be any sex or violence, and I don't have any guns to sling around. The subject is not overly heavy, and there shouldn't be any swearing either. Not that I'm aware of, anyway. So, maybe sticking around will be worth your while.
Alright then smarty pants. Why the hell (not really a swear word!!) do you need a disclaimer then?
Well, I would like to simply bring to your attention that what you are about to read might give you the sensation of being a little bored. It might make you feel lethargic, and lazy - perhaps you'll even ask you Mum to get you something from the fridge. You could find that you start to feel a little insecure, and want to know where your place in the world is. You might even decide that you suddenly want to binge-watch some cringe-worthy Netflix tripe. But don't worry. You're not spiralling into some sort brainless oblivion. You're not hurtling head-long into a mid-life crisis, or any other problematic trauma. No, it's just that for the next few minutes, you will be entering the headspace of a teenager. Yes, you read me correct. The headspace of a teenager!
Now, before you go running for the hills in a blind panic, waving your arms hysterically above your head, screaming nonsensical ravings like a mad lunatic, take a breath. It won't be that bad. At least, I don't think it will be that bad. I know that for the most part, we have all got past those years, and for some of us, we have possibly vowed, to never, ever revisit them. And that's fine. But bear with me, because if you have teenage children, or work with teenagers, or are still a teenager yourself, you may have noticed something. You may have noticed that as you/they have grown, you/they have intrinsically developed a form of speech. A language, if you will, that is unique. You may also have noticed, that while you can understand the words that are coming from their mouths, you don't actually know what they mean.
Don't worry. It's not you, it's them!!
Phew... It's Not Me!
You may be able to recall, that as you grew, especially during your high school years, that you developed a lexicon that was all your own, well, not entirely your own. You probably shared it with everyone else in your year level, and possbily the surrounding year levels too. You probably also shared it with teenagers of similar age around the globe, it's just that when we were young, we didn't have access to people on the other side of the world as readily as teenagers do today (cheers Internet - love you!), so we siply didn't realise it. The point being - we have all been users and abusers of teenage slang at some time or another in our lives. It's almost a right of passage.
I can still remember some of the words that were popular whan I was growing up. Beast and wicked are two that instantly spring to mind, and despite what they conjure in me today, I know that back in the day, they were words we used when something was really good - awesome, even. Once at the dinner table, Mum spent a good ten minutes grilling me over what beast meant, and how it could actually be a term used for something good. I'm pretty sure, that to this day, she still does not really understand how it could have been used in the way it was, and I certainly remember how indignant I felt at having to explain to her one of my 'cool' words.
As a middle and senior school teacher, I get introduced to new words and phrases all the time. Some good, others I would rather forget I ever knew existed at all (if I tell you to not use the Urban Dictionay site to look up frosted flakes, you will, so I'm not going to tell you to do it! But seriously, your life won't be any worse off if you never know what this term refers to!). If I hear something a student uses that I don't know, a word, or phrase, I'll ask them what it means. I think as a teacher, it's good to know what students in your class are saying, expecially since online, there are actually references to items, such as the series of 'secret hashtags', that are used to connect teenagers who engage in self-harm and other self-destructive behaviours (#thinsp refers to photo's or messages that 'inspire' and effort to become thin1). I think being educated on this type of langage, especially as a parent, or a teacher, is actually quite important, just as knowing the release dates for television shows or films that could trigger emotive behaviour, such as some of the more recent Netflix shows (by the way, I'm not anti Netflix, I actually love the site - it's just that their original content really does push the boundaries sometimes).
By now, if you don't really have a lot of contact with a teenager, you may be scratching your head in bewilderment, wondering what in the world I'm talking about. Well, let me show you. The sentence below makes sense, in as much as it translates to a sentece you or I could understand. It may not be something that'd actually be used in a converstaion, I just wanted to string a few 'teenagerisms' together in a sentence, so you could get an idea as to some of the gobbelbygook they can speak. Read this:
Hey bruh let's grab the squad and skurt. I'm hundo p Dave won't throw shade - we'll just tell him it wasn't lit.
I Don't Understand..!
Don't worry. That's actually a pretty valid response! I remember the first time I heard a student use the word 'lit'. I corrected him and told him that wasn't the correct use of the word, because it changed his sentence entirely. He looked at me like I'd had a brain aneurysm or something, and then proceeded to explain what he meant by it. So, would you like to know what that sentence translates to? (How many of you audibly said yes just then? Three people... four..!) Okay then, it tranlates to:
Hey bro let's grab the (our) friends and go. I'm one hundred percent certain that Dave won't say anything bad about us if we tell him it wasn't awesome.
So, to break this down further, we have the following2:
- Bruh - this is a casual nickname for 'bro'.
- Squad - a term for a group of friends.
- Skurt - to go away or leave.
- Hundo p - short for 100% certain or sure.
- Throw shade - to give someone a nasty look or to say something unplesant about them.
- It's lit - short for cool or awesome.
The terms I've used above to illustrate some of the language used by our teenagers today are quite mild. There are a great deal more words and terms that, as I stated earlier, are, or can be, much more sinister in their meaning. I'm not going to delve into them here bacause that would be a breach of my disclaimer from the beginning of this post. If you have teenagers, or work with them, maybe now is a good time to familiarise yourself with the vocabulary that they use. Or at least some of it. Understanding how they think is an important way to understanding how they feel, and often language is a great way of deciphering them.
You can also use it yourself! I'm old, well, old by the standards of the students I teach. I love watching them cringe as I use the words that I learn from them. I never take it too seriously, and they love ribbing me over how much of a dag I am. Telling a class full of year seven's that I'm getting salty because they are not working quietly enough often is met with peals of laughter, and even wonder that I actually know what salty means. No, it is no longer a seasoning - for our younger generations, it means to be bitter, or angry about something, or someone.
As this post wraps up, I feel I should finish with a bit of happy news. If you found yourself becoming despondent, downcast, or even salty, as you read through this, don't fret. The feelings will dissipate - you will eventually regain the same demeanour with which you began reading. I hope you managed to have a bit of a chuckle along the way, and maybe picked up a new word or two. Feel free to have a browse of the Urban Dictionary if it so appeals, but don't blame me for what you come across. Some of it is pretty interesting.
Thank you so much for reading, and as always, feel free to post any comments, thoughts or suggestions below. I appreciate you taking the time to write something. I am especially interested you hear your thoughts on any words or slang you have heard recently from teenagers.
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