When was the last time someone you know exclaimed “psychedelic!” when he saw something he liked? Or how about “radical!”? The truth is, language is changing all the time, and often teens are the ones who make it happen. Although some words are definitely not “in style” anymore — consider “sweet,” “groovy,” “far out” and “jivin’ ” — teens were the first to popularize them.
Regardless of the phrase, however, we are faced with a question: Do these expressions create a generational gap? Most words that have been “in” for a long time are not only accepted by adults, but often used by them, such as the age-old “cool.”
Newly popularized words like “tight” and “crackin’ ” came from teens first. Another common term is “dis.” I’m sure most of you know what it means, and while it’s short for “disrespect,” today’s teens have given it a whole new meaning. It connotes something similar to “making fun of,” “jibing” or “harassing” instead of the broader “disrespect.”
And, like, have you ever like noticed how, like, we use, like, the word “like” a lot, like you know? Verbal pauses or “fillers” also are a sign of poor communication skills.
Words such as “gay (happy),” “fruitcake (a cake),” “ass (donkey)” and several others have totally different connotations than they did with our parents and grandparents, which shows that the impact the younger generation has on culture can be both blessing and curse. Unfortunately, the “in” words today are mostly “swear” words. My peers have started filling our language with profanity rather than simple exclamations. I think the amount of cussing in the modern teenager’s vocabulary directly reflects on our intelligence and communication skills. The more someone swears, the less they are really communicating, and the more they are just showing their inability to express emotions. When emotions don’t interfere, a high amount of profanity usually indicates that the person isn’t very intelligent.
The English language is living, and we are the ones who must keep it alive. From the 1920s to the 1970s on into today, teenagers always have been a motivating factor for cultural change.
I’ve recently decided that new words need to be similar to those of older generations so that they help to close the generation gap. I recently coined my own word to tell someone I understand them: “nexin’.” Since a nexus is a merging of ideas or a connection between people, I hope it helps to close the generation gap.
We must use dynamic words that have meaning if we are going to make an impact on our generation and our culture.
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