What becomes of the language - The Explorer: Editorials

What becomes of the language

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Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 11:00 pm | Updated: 1:26 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

When pondering our adolescent years, my friends and I often wonder how our parents understood us when we talked with them. Another interesting question we discuss is whether or not we cared what our parents thought?

As teenagers, we had our own language, as do those of today. In a sense, it's a form of code or slang that youngsters use to communicate among their friends and oftentimes perplex their parents.

Slang is typically associated with a particular social culture and time. For example, I grew up in the '60s and that was a diverse transitional period for the people, the country and for our language. I recall our first black and white television set and the way it seemed to open a window to the world for us and our parents as we watched it intently every evening. Rules of life were in flux and our verbal communication seemed to follow suit.

Here are some words that were commonly understood by most people during the '60s, but have evolved into a chasm of unintelligible utterances or, at best, have assumed drastically different interpretations today. The '60s adaptation is shown immediately after the word; the current comprehension follows that listing.

Bag - A person's personal interest; something used for carrying objects

Blast - Having a good time; an explosion

Bread - Money; sliced and used for sandwiches

Cat - A person in the know; a house pet

Dig - To comprehend; excavate

Flick - A movie; to fling an object

Heat - The police; summer in Arizona

Hip - Someone in the know and popular; something often broken as we age

Lid - A hat; the top on a container

Made in the shade - Success guaranteed

No sweat - Not a problem; what we experience at times other than during the monsoon season

Split - To leave; what happens to our pants as we gain weight

Unreal - Exceptional; what some believe about the Roswell, N.M., alien story

All wet - An erroneous notion; what you sometimes get when walking to your car during the monsoon season

Big cheese - Someone important; a special pizza offering multiple types of cheese

Cheese eater - Someone who releases sensitive information about another person or business enterprise; a constipated vegetarian

Cat's pajamas - Something in vogue; what they sell in an upscale pet boutique

Cheaters - Eyeglasses; people intentionally breaking a rule or the law

Crush - An infatuation with someone; what happens to a Smart Car in an accident

Hooch - Illegal or bootleg liquor; a name for your dog when you're out of ideas

Joint - A local hangout or club selling alcohol; something sold and smoked for medicinal purposes in California

Lounge lizard - A man that tries to pick up women in bars; some things never change

Pet - Amorous behavior; an animal we have for companionship

Sheik - A man with great sex appeal; a rich Arab

Swell - Wonderful or acceptable; what happens to our ankles when we sit too long

Over the line - Where the toe of our foot is placed when standing at the foul line for a basketball free throw; having exceeded acceptable societal constrictions

Coke - A popular bottled beverage; an illegal narcotic drug

Hop - A school dance; to jump up and down

Flat top - A typical boy's hair cut style; the roof of a Southwestern adobe style home

Goober - A peanut; a somewhat naïve, uninformed person

Out of pocket - To be away or out of one's usual area; at personal expense

Stuck in neutral - A vehicle transmission that won't shift into a forward or reverse gear; doing nothing productive

Lame - Physical mobility limitation; a weak or implausible excuse

Like it or not, communicating in today's world involves using, or at least having a modest comprehension of technology-driven acronyms (e.g., cell phone text messaging and computer chats). The use of actual words and complete sentences is being rapidly replaced by a dizzying array of acronyms with many having multiple meanings. If you Google the phrase "common text message abbreviations" you'll have nearly 200,000 web pages to scan for insight. FYI (For Your Information), I don't have the patience to wade through them. While a few of these abbreviations may come in handy, there are so many to keep track of that it's comparable to learning a newly conceived and evolving foreign language. BTW (By The Way), I'm fairly comfortable with English and fumbling with Spanish, so the odds of me becoming an accomplished acronymologist are slim to none.

TFR (Thanks For Reading), BFN (Bye For Now), SYNW (See You Next Week).

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