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The slang you use will date you

Many of us search for that elusive fountain of youth that we know doesn’t exist. Yet, we buy into age-defying products and spend big bucks doing so.

We subscribe to the fashion of the day from skinny jeans to maxi skirts. We are slaves to the latest hair trends. Have you noticed that rainbow colored hair is in vogue?

Guys have taken to wearing loafers or sneakers without socks. Some “Hollywood types” will wear a tux with sneakers.

 

We can do all the above, and perhaps, get away with shaving a few years off our age. However, once we open our mouth and say, “neat” or “outta sight,” we might as well be wearing bell-bottoms!

Yup, words can age you.

I found this out at the hair salon. (My salon is a Mecca for information.) While chatting it up with the stylists, I used the word “garish.” My hairdresser repeated the word. “Garish?” I said, “You know, sleazy, flashy, trampy.” She laughed and said, “Ceil, you are dating yourself.”

I looked up the word “garish.” Whoa! I found that it originated around 1540. Obviously, I don’t go back that far. “Garish” is a Mom word. She lived the word “proper,” as in proper dress, manners and most importantly, proper English.

The stylists also chided me for using the word “trampy.” The new word is —————–. Suffice to say It refers to a gal of ill-repute who is disguised as a lady and has many sleepovers.

Geez! I use the same slang that was popular when I was a tad younger — say 40 years. I shifted my brain into overdrive and came up with a few oldies that may ring a bell:

airhead — silly girl
BFF — best friend forever
big time — more than usual
chill — cool it
lame — not cool
whoa — no words
rip-off — fraud
the low-down — truth
outta sight — cool
peace out — saying goodbye with a peace sign
psyched out — mind games
freaked out — me, sometimes
operator — a good looking guy who is smooth with women
peacock — a good looking guy, who knows it and is smooth with women

Obviously, Mom’s “use proper English” lectures didn’t have that much influence over me.

Would kids of today understand our slang? Better yet, do we understand theirs? Curious as always, I did some research. Here’s some kid-speak of today:

sus — shady or sketchy
boots — This word is added to express what you are saying *
Stan — hardcore fan
extra — trying too hard
ship — relationship
phishing — scanning method to get personal information
PID — stupid
FR — for real
GOAT — greatest of all time
sup — what’s up
BHD — bad

Back then, we didn’t have the Internet to coax us into using slang, it was all about being cool.

Nowadays, kids communicate with one another through social media and text messaging. Internet slang has been coined to save keystrokes or compensate for small character limits.

Slang seems to be creeping into the classrooms. Kids are turning in assignments filled with slang, sans capitalization and punctuation.

Some folks believe there is reason for concern, that the advent of heavily abbreviated text messages could bring about problems for the English language in the future. Other folks recognize that slang can be a quick, informal and efficient method of communicating.

Today’s kids live hectic lives. Parents over-schedule them with activities and sports. (God forbid they go outside and play streetball.) Perhaps, there isn’t time to write messages in full.

I question whether slang is getting a bad rap? The English language has evolved over time. There is a reason we don’t speak in Shakespearean language, right?

According to Google, during the 30s and 40s, the hot phrases were: “make tracks” (leave quickly), “slip me five” (shake hands) and “blow our wig” (excited). Although I never heard Mom use slang, she was a feisty gal. My bet? She did — in secret.

I am reminded of the show-stopper tune from the musical “Bye, Bye Birdie” titled: “Kids.” Without dating myself (I checked this on the Internet), the first lines hold a whole lot of truth:

“Kids I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today.
Kids who can understand anything they say.
Why can’t they be like we were, perfect in every way,
What’s the matter with kids today?”

Slang has been around since the beginning of time. Who knows? Maybe Adam and Eve communicated in slang!

Chill out and peace out folks, there is nothing wrong with the kids of yesterday, today, or tomorrow. “Boots!” *

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Celia Marszal-Iannelli
Celia Iannelli is a native New Yorker enjoying a second career — in 'retirement' — as a freelance writer. She lives in Jamesport.