Generational Speak

Every generation has its particular lingo. When I was in school, everything was “cool” or “neat.” If something was really neat, it was “neat-o!” When I was student teaching, the word was “mental.” Extracurricular classes were “mental.” Someone’s new hairdo was “mental.” It was “mental, mental, mental” all the time.

Just for the heck of it, I looked back on the decades to see what hip phrases or words were common. In the ’60s, people were still calling each other “Daddy-O,” and some called their parents “Dad-o and Mom-o.” When things were going smoothly, it was all “groovy.” Laid-back dudes who let their hair grow long and smoked organic weed called themselves “hippies.” And any person in authority was “the man.” You always had to watch out for “the man.”

In the ’70s, if you were going to meet up with someone later on, you’d say “catch ya on the flip side.” If you were “into” something, you could “dig it.” Something out of the ordinary was “mind blowing.”

The ’80s gave us “bodacious,” meaning “beautiful.” If you were just relaxing with friends, you were “chillin’.” If you were into technology and engineering, you were a “dweeb” or a “nerd.” But if you were a Valley Girl (i.e., California beach type), anything that annoyed you would cause you to sneer and say, “ohhh, gag me with a spoon!”

In the ’90s, if you were disrespectful to someone, it meant that you had “dissed” them. If you were at a party and dancing along with the music, you were “getting jiggy with it.” If you made a mistake, you said “oops—my bad.” Last decade’s dweebs and nerds turned into “geeks.” And if you agreed with someone on something they said, you chimed in with “word (as in ‘I agree’).”

The year 2000 brought us phrases like “hangin’ with my peeps” (meaning your friends, your ‘people’). Parents were simply the “rents.” If something was great, it was “sweet.”

Now that we are way up to 2018, I still hear that everything is “awesome.” If things are going your way, it’s awesome. If you were describing your dinner from last night and you were happy with it, it too was awesome. If asked how you feel, you would probably say that you were awesome.

I’m happy to say that I have stopped gritting my teeth about the awesomeness of everything. What I still can’t get over, though, is the overuse of the word “like.” It’s a good thing that I am no longer a teacher. If I still were, I would start the school year by telling my students that they would be allowed a finite amount of “likes” each week. Go over the limit and you will be immediately sent to a landfill where you will be turned into a speed bump.

How awesome is that?


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