Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Was it Confuscius who said, "She who attempts to do three rooms at once will only do one room at a time despite many lists"?

Maybe that was a Russian aphorism, but I am here to say: IT IS VERY TRUE. And because there is stuff all over the place in this house and it's weird, crazy hot and swampishly humid outside, I need to avoid both my writing work and the housework. So I've been keeping a new list: one of words that are new to me but not new to the under 18 set. 

For those of you who are YA writers, take heed. The majority of these were lifted from sentences of the teens who infest my living room. In no particular order, here are the ones I've culled:

TwitLit - a "dumb" book that has no depth - taken from the mind numbing supeficiality of Tweets

Bacne - the appearance of zits on the back and/or shoulders

AFK - Away From Keyboard - as when asked any question as in, "Philip, what is the capital of Delaware?" It is answered, "IDK AFK" because the actual BOOKS are in the other room and he's already on the couch

Butter - a term that has nothing to do with what we once spread on toast; this now means that something is wonderful or the best

In this sentence, the bolded words all mean the same thing: That idiot is such a tool and his friend is like totally 404 (as in the message error 404 for vacant page)

How was the movie? Great, it was intense and riveting (Mom) Same sentence in teen: It was H (for hardcore)

Mouse Potato - replacing the Couch Potato of my generation who sat in awe of cable movies playing on the living room tv, this is a person who engages in much of the same nothingness in front of a computer screen

Swipe Out - when a debit card funded by a 'rent has been ground down to zero dollars

See if you can figure this out: I saw Erin chillaxing and she looked fly. She got new rides.

Answer Key: Erin was not stressed, she looked good and she had new sneakers on. It took me a bit to get rides meant shoes and not boyfriends who drove.

Maybe I was being a wanksta which I'm pretty sure is the dorky version of gangsta, as in a person who is trying to be all cool and fly but is in fact, a mom or a teacher (or in my case, both...)

Then there is this strange one: "So just because I asked for ONE belly piercing, Mom, you don't have to get all salty on me, ok?"

Say what? Am I the only one who thought of old, grizzled sailors cursing into their beers while sitting in seedy, dockside bars? Apparently, salty here only means difficult.

Then there is Christopher, back from his college summer, explaining to me that the girl I thought was lovely at the freshman orientation had, in fact, a tramp stamp visible above her thong. Ok, I thought, do I want to know? I couldn't resist; the rhyme forced me to press onward and ask. A tramp stamp is a tattoo (a tat in teen) right above the rump. I could have gone right on living without ever having known that little nugget.

Also in college, there is the dreaded, rushed paper called a Wikidemia which is writing solely researched on that a student submits hoping/praying that the professor will not check sources

College kids also run off to check their vitals, which means they run to the nearest electronic device to check their Facebook page (myspace has gone the so yesterday route of "emo" and voice mail), their texts and emails.

In the car today, Emma said breezily that she couldn't wait to see her bra back at school. After much confusion and a sense of surrealness that I had lost track of time, my children, and the motions of the planets, Emma explained that a brah is the female equivalent of a bro, or a best friend. 

Right. Got it. Or rather, I'm down with it.


Shannon said...

Hahaha! I was laughing as I read this one. Some things are different on this coast though (and I think unique to SoCal:

"SKETCH"--as in "dude, that's totally sketch" or "that's sketchy" means dubious, fear-inducing, an uncool move on somebody else, anything in an unfair situation. Eg: 1) That alleyway's sketchy, man, let's go around the real road. 2) I got too sketched-out (afraid, forewarned into paralysis etc) , so I didn't go to his party. 3) "My boyfriend's cheating on me with my best friend." "That's so sketch!"

"TIGHT"/"SICK"/"Legit" - cool, awesome, amazing Eg 1) "Hey I just pulled my first kick-flip" (skate-boarding trick) "Tight!" 2) I love fedoras; they're so sick. 3) 'Legit' is just the shortened form of 'legitimate', but I think that's been around longer.

Shortening words also pops up occasionally. "Brilliant" to "brill" etc. With guys everything becomes a "brofest", "brodown", etc. I've never used "brah" to refer to a female friend though. That one's new to me. has a lot of 'slanguage': some definitions are really funny, others are slightly crude, but it's still a useful tool. Oh I forgot the most important one:

"Meh" - expression of indifference/apathy, a sheep sounding noise/verbal shrug of the shoulders Eg 1) "Hey, do you want to go for a burger?" "Meh" "All right, let's go the beach" "OK".

Lisa Amowitz said...

LOL, Anne. Yes--I am familiar with the infamous *tramp stamp*. Gotta listen closely to what comes out of daughter's mouth when she returns from sleepaway camp.

Anne Spollen said...

EVERYTHING is diff is So Cal, Shannon (how's that for shortening?) and I think, at least from the East Coast perspective, in a way I would love to see for myself. Did I ever tell you that Emma is LA obsessed and has a clock in her room set to LA time? She also knows all lyrics to most Red Hot Chili Peppers songs because that band reminds her so much of LA.

I knew "meh" and "legit" but not the others. I do think language is regional. And thanks for these - it's interesting to see how slang is used, especially among teens since adult language pretty much stays the same.

Sleepaway camp, Lisa? That's my house this summer for the local teens...but yeah, I'll bet she comes home with some new ones. And "tramp stamp" was a new one for me...

Glynis said...

Well I had just got used to saying cool. Thanks for the lesson Anne!
BTW in the UK there is online help for parents...jargon buster...

Now you can compare LOL

Shannon said...

I guess that's the same thing with the kids here liking New York , ("New York" is a metonymy for "New York City" at my high school because it's still revered as a "happening" cultural spot closer than San Francisco--which reveals either that American students are truly geography confused or that the movies we watch focus on these titanic-sized capitals of consciousness too much) and obsessively listening to MGMT all the time. I agree with Emma--the RHCPs do capture a slice of LA, or at least, a more saturated shot of it than normally seen on your average vacation. :D

Marcia said...

I love the inventiveness of these, like wikidemia. The only one that left me totally clueless was bra pack. Thanks for the laugh!

Mary Witzl said...

My kids probably don't know all of the slanguage you've mentioned, but I'm guessing they'd be able to guess the context perfectly.

Here in Scotland we've got 'buggin' to mean 'cool' and 'That bites' to mean 'That sucks'. And a few dozen other ones that I can't remember because my kids aren't around right now. Which is sort of buggin.

Anne Spollen said...

Thanks for the jargon buster, Glynis! It seems teenagers all over the world have their own set of vocab

Metonymy! Oh Shannon, a girl after my heart - I try explaining things like this to my kids, and they put pillows over their heads. I think Emma just sees LA as THE glamour capital of the world, as do most tween girls here. She goes to NYC all the time, so she sees the garbage blowing around and the bums on the subway. LA is NY without the grunge. (Actually, I would love to go to CA; I'll get out there one of these days)

You're welcome, Marcia! I was clueless on a few of rides and fly.

Mary, you're in Scotland? Not Turkey? I must have missed the blog wherein you MOVED -- well, at least now I know. Yes, those teens come in handy. You miss them when they're not around.

Anonymous said...

Funny stuff. I was familiar with a few, not all of them. It's also interesting to see that some teenspeak is national, while other words are regional.

adrienne said...

Mouse potato - that's a great one!

Good luck with the room repainting...I tackled that one last summer (so glad it's behind me).

Vonna said...

Fun post! Lately, I've noticed the pre-teen set here (Houston) throwing out a lot of short Shakespeare quotes, but it's clear they have no clue where these quotes came from.
Alas, poor Yorick!