Saturday, April 07, 2007

Too old to say "dude".... ?

Slang never came easily to me, not even in the 60s when there was a slang term for everything. Maybe the comfortable familiarity of it never felt right inside my skin. Perhaps I was just a pretentious idiot. It's probably somewhere in the middle. I was always a bit more on the formal side. Idiomatic speech would have sounded really strange from someone so quiet-natured and on the shy side.

Slang was insider jargon. Those who knew. Those who didn't. Altered words flew around our heads like spit-out olive pits, each one as ill-defined as the one before and very transient. It seemed to change day by day. Words took on new meanings that only the in-group understood.

Some of it was deceitful. .. like "five finger discount" or "Aunt Mary".

Some of it was funny. He's goin' ape, man, so don't have a cow!

I'm from Southern California where there was always plenty of surfer slang. Ankle-biters, amped up, off the wall! This is rippin', dude!

The current slang is disturbing to some of us older folks, just as our slang was disturbing to our parents and elders in the 60s. Parents would get irritated by the slanguage and constantly chide the kids to stop. It never worked and it won't work now. Even though I am getting closer to the end than the beginning of my lifespan, even though I don't know what most of it means (example: MILF - um), it seems important for people to create that sense of insiderness, the community of likeminded others. I never want to be one of those older people who clicks her tongue at youthful speech.

Some of it, I don't like because of the meaning. I do not like hiphop slang. Truly. I just don't care for it. Being a bit of a literalist where language is concerned, the meanings behind the words feel ugly. Prison slang doesn't seem like the highest verbal aspiration and words matter. What we say matters.

Just the same, the right of passage is important and the slang will fade into obscurity eventually, so hey, man, no sense shittin' a brick over it!"

So.. go for it.





caro said...

This is a universal phenomenon. I sometimes have to bite my tongue with the girls. What worries me isn't the slang per se. It's the way in wich they use the slang. I was listening to a crowd of young kids the other day and actually had to intervene." You're such a effing little bitch man. I should cut your face and on and on." All said in a calm even tone. Almost as though the kid was reading his grocery list. To me words are as palpable as objects and leave an imprint, a mark in the air when spoken. A couple of years ago, after 9-11, Toni Morisson wrote a beautiful piece in Vanity Fair. She spoke of the need for us to cleanse and refresh our tongues. And since I have tried to do just that. I try to shy away from cynicism and sarcasm wich are very funny in a T.V show but have no place in my daily existence. I am a blessed human being, I live in a country that allows me to say whatever I want. So I honor that privilege and try to make what I say worthy and mindful.

Thailand Gal said...

Caro, Love this statement! Absolutely, positively love it! Toni Morrison couldn't have said it any better than you just did. :)



Pam said...

Slang verbiage has never bothered me until now. I've "been there, done that" and understand why it's important to kids. I can be cool. What I don't understand is the excessive use of the worst four letter words or the constant use of words of violence.

Kicky slang at least shows some thought and imagination, slang that is foul only suggests lack of respect and a laziness of the mind.

liv said...

Slang doesn't bother in general. Old slang used when there's newer, lots cooler slang bothers me. I tend to use it in a tongue in cheek sort of way, perhaps in an even, dare I say it, patronizing way?

Did you really want to know about MILFs? :)

QT said...

I say "dude" all the time, an unfortunate side effect of growing up on the west coast : )

I do wonder if the "younger generation" has an idea of what they say sometimes?

MsLittlePea said...

Slang doesn't bother me if used in the proper situation. I'm like a parrot and can pick up any accent or local way of speaking wherever I am(not that I do, I just can). I like making up my own words and playing with language but I'm not going to use my made up words or funny grammar in a serious moment-of course. The only word I hate, I absolutely HATE is Bling-bling. I liked it in the original song and but hate it and cringe when I hear people say it seriously. I'm not exactly sure why. But I feel like screaming,"Just Say Diamonds asshole!" when I hear someone of any age say it. Maybe I'm just not cool enough to get it... :O)

At the ripe age of 30 I still remember that by the time anyone over a certain age finally picks up what a slang term means, it's already past it's 'coolness'.

I dated surfers all my life and married one, I can say with some authority that the surf slang never ceases with age. At least in my experience.

By the way, I loved your last post but it hit too close to home for me to comment. But I just wanted you to know that I read it and it definitely gave me a few things to think about.

jen said...

ha. i deliberately use slang for the absurdity of all. calling another woman dude. using words that mean something opposite or nothing even close.

it humors me greatly, the unexpectedness of it.

flutter said...

I say dude is a really loooonnnnng drawn out display of exasperation towards someone in particular, who uses it frequently.
Dude, I was like Dude, and then the other dude was all dude, and I said dude!!

which will always result in an eyeroll and Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude from me.

meno said...

My least favorite is the "Whatever", accompanied by the W hand sign that my daughter tried to use on me once.


Laurie said...

My new assistant is in her early 30's with two young children. I have enjoyed being around them immensely. The older of the two uses "gentle" slang frequently and I get a big kick out of it. Not as much of a kick as he gets out of me using it back to him, though.

Lee said...

I don't mind my kids' slang. It kinda cracks me up to hear them developing their own style. What does bother me is when they are trying to tell me a story and every other word is "like" or "and" because they are not well thought out. I make them start over until it's somewhat fluid and they aren't making my ears bleed.

I, too, use "Duuuuuude!" a lot.

rhea said...

I'm in my 40s but I still say 'cool' and 'neat'.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I use slang occasionally in an ironic way. Most of it makes me uncomfortable because it seems to be a substitute for actually choosing meaningful words. It's shorthand, and while it serves to identify those who are on the same wave length (and to exclude those who are not,) it is lazy speak.

When I was a teenager, my father said, in response to a slangy comment I had made, "You have a very good vocabulary. I expect you to use it. People who say things like that do not." I never forgot his saying that.

Mel said...

I can't stand it the way kids use the word "sick" nowadays. I find it wierd and so anti-thetical to it's real meaning that it's pure nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Ahh bro, c'mon, I say sick and dope all the time. Those words are tight.