Dee-dubs! Learn the teen lingo
Learn how to decipher adolescent adages
Teen talk is so bad, it’s sick. A rough translation, that means it’s great, if you’re a teenager. If you’re a parent, on the other hand, it is quite literally bad – a foreign language that leaves mums and dads ‘riding the struggle bus’, as their teen-talking kids might put it. And that is why Mark Leigh, a father of two teenagers, wrote the book on the subject.
As a regular customer at Starbies (the ‘affectionate’ nickname for the coffee chain Starbucks), Leigh heard so much indecipherable teen slang, he decided an entertaining guide was needed.
So he researched (with the help of his teen children) and wrote How To Talk Teen, a “totes awesome” dictionary of teen slang.
“Eavesdropping on teenagers’ conversations, I was just thinking ‘What are they talking about?’ I wanted to know what they meant,” Leigh explains.
A great example of teenagers’ utter lack of spoken effort is term ‘BT dubs’. Clearly the phrase ‘by the way’ is far too long for teens to bother typing or saying out loud - but, unbelievably, even acronym ‘BTW’ is excessively lengthy for this age group. That final ‘W’ is three whole syllables and, quite frankly, saying all three is a waste of precious teen time.
So the troublesome ‘W’ is shortened to the easier, singlesyllable slang ‘dubs’. Sorted. In a similar lazy vein, a teenager might use the bizarre phrase, ‘Om, nom, nom’ when tasty food is mentioned. This onomatopoeic gem originates from the Cookie Monster in TV’s Sesame Street, who made the sound when munching his favourite cookies, meaning something is appetising.
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A major contributory factor to teen speak is text and social media, and young people’s need to get their meaning across with a minimum amount of typing (and effort). “They want to convey the most information in as short a space as possible, because they may have a limited amount of characters and also because they just can’t be bothered to type,” says Leigh. Part of the motivation for using teen slang is also for young people to show peers they know the words, and to prove they’re cool. “A lot of it is suburban kids trying to look cool and get one over on their peers, especially if they’re using acronyms,” Leigh points out. One such acronym is HFFA, meaning ‘hot from far away’ - the closer a person gets, the more unattractive they become. Leigh suggests the plethora of TV channels and US shows now available means US slang is more widely used today, and circulated via social media, so it rapidly becomes accepted parlance. “It’s a combination of all these things coming together, and it’s only going to get better or worse, depending on how you look at it,” warns Leigh.