Calling All Sparklers: Teach Us Your Talky Ways!
If you’ve told your parents once, you’ve told them a million times—and yet your dad still awkwardly "holla!"s at you, and your mom signs every text “Love, Your Mother.” Somewhere between when they were your age and now, communication has completely collapsed—how to relate (and how to text and how to not be horribly humiliating at every possible opportunity) seems to have completely departed them forever.
Anne Curzan (a professor at University of Michigan), on the other hand, is trying as hard as she can to understand these things. She’s leveraged translators from the front lines (read: her students) to make sure that she not only knows the lingo, but that she knows how to use it. (Not awkwardly use it—all-the-way use it.)
But what’s really cute is that “slash” made the news this week. So how did it take this long, even for someone who is actually actively pursuing this stuff, to hit on that one? And what’s causing the gap, anyway—are teens really speaking to adults that differently, or do they just not invest in what they’re hearing because they have no application for it? Or both?
Granted, reading such a deliberate dissection of how “slash” works does feel a little awkward, like being probed by friendly, albeit thorough aliens under a glass bubble. Yet we still get why the kids in her class would love to help: it’s charming and endearing that she’s this into it, and it seems like some sort of major intergenerational public service to be able to translate for adults who actually want to understand. So long as they don’t, you know, go throwing it around at weird moments. Dawg.
So what words would you teach her? We figure she’s got a handle on “obvi” and “derp” and “!!!!!!1” (forget punctuation, that one’s effing numbers!!!!!1)—but then again, maybe not. So let’s give her a list! She’ll be so excited.
C'mon Sparkleheads, HIT US WITH YOUR BEST SLANG.