De­cod­ing the Lan­guage of Youth

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Michele-Lau­ren Hack­shaw

‘ The party was so lit. She to­tally slayed in that out­fit. Ugh, I can’t even right now . . . I have a se­ri­ous FOMO! Bye Feli­cia. POTD on the gram. We ‘bout to get turnt. I’m watch­ing GG tonight ICYMI. He’s so OTT. Eye­brows on fleek. TTYL, bae!”

In all hon­esty, how many of you made sense of the above sen­tence? I am sure you’ve al­ready Googled it. Or reached for your dic­tionary. Bet­ter luck with the ur­ban dic­tionary, though. The above is a small sam­ple of what is fast be­com­ing the lan­guage of the young. Yes, and not so young!

Sure, it’s un­der­stand­able why many of us use ab­bre­vi­a­tions when tex­ting or chat­ting on so­cial me­dia. Who re­ally wants to be send­ing long mes­sages for half an hour? Who wants to waste pre­cious time read­ing long mes­sages (even when you have noth­ing else to do)? Most peo­ple don’t. But here’s the thing: ab­bre­vi­a­tions seem to have taken over reg­u­lar speech and Stan­dard English! I’ve heard it and I’m one hun­dred per­cent sure you have too. Nowa­days, in­stead of shar­ing laughs, we write ‘Lol’ - short­hand for “laugh­ing out loud.” Why? Is it that hard to let out some happy en­dor­phins?

The cited ab­bre­vi­a­tions are briskly find­ing a home in the Ox­ford Dic­tionary. The English vo­cab­u­lary is evolv­ing with im­mea­sur­able speed. For ex­am­ple: “slay” once meant, “to kill, vi­o­lently”. To­day it means “sexy” or “suc­ceeded in some­thing”. It’s in­ter­est­ing to note how words change their mean­ing. You can’t help won­der­ing how long be­fore the older gen­er­a­tion is un­able to com­mu­ni­cate with its off­spring. I guess that’s some­thing they’ll have to learn, in the same way they learned to text and e-mail.

I re­mem­ber say­ing to some younger cousins: “The way you’re tex­ting, I hope you don’t write like that in school.” But come to think about it, even the older among us use our smart phones to send out gib­ber­ish. At so­cial gath­er­ings or while hang­ing out with friends, we’re con­stantly on our phones. Some pre­tend to be busy on our phones so as to ap­pear pop­u­lar. Maybe some who seem at­tached to their phones are ac­tu­ally bored enough to turn to their phones for en­ter­tain­ment.

Many UK teach­ers are un­happy at the in­crease in the num­ber of chil­dren who are us­ing text-speak or so­cial net­work­ing chat—such as 2mor, msg, lol and bk—in place of English gram­mar.

Ab­bre­vi­a­tions com­monly used on sites such as Twit­ter and Face­book are also mak­ing it into course­work, es­says and ex­per­i­ment write-ups.

The ma­jor­ity of UK teach­ers be­lieve mo­bile phones and com­put­ers are re­spon­si­ble for chil­dren be­ing un­able to spell as well as ear­lier gen­er­a­tions. They also say chil­dren can’t write as well as they should be­cause they are more used to key­boards and touch pads.

I am sure that teach­ers here in the Caribbean would be sim­i­larly alarmed.

Now, don’t get me wrong; so­cial me­dia and tech­nol­ogy are both con­ve­nient ways to com­mu­ni­cate with one an­other and gain more in­for­ma­tion. But we should also be able to com­mu­ni­cate ver­bally! Know when to use the ab­bre­vi­a­tions and know words like “lol” or “fomo,” “brb” or “ttyl.” Oh, and al­low me to trans­late the open­ing state­ment for you in case you haven’t yet fig­ured it out.

“The party was fun. She looked hot in that out­fit. I can’t

han­dle it. I feel I am miss­ing out. Any­way, that should be the photo of the day on In­sta­gram. We are go­ing to raise the roof. I am watch­ing Gos­sip Girl tonight, in case you missed it. He is so over the top. His eye­brows are per­fect. Talk to you later, babe.”

(“Brb” is be right back.) There you have it, folks!

WTH is wrong with your phone!

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