Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Teenage Slang--Oh How I Hate Thee

Just three more days of the template experiment. Todays' theme is the Swirly Blue theme. Check in on Friday for the poll.

I'm not a fan of non-words that are meant to make the speaker sound cool, and I never have been. Just the other day I was watching a movie and one of the teenage characters said "chillax," and I shuddered. My stomach has been twisted into a knot ever since. I remember a phrase growing up that always gave me the same reaction: My bad. Ugh. I'm cringing right now just thinking about it.

The writer in me just rebels against this disgusting use of the English language. At times, I feel motivated to go on a crusade to purge the world of the slang infidels! Okay, yes, I go overboard. But it really gets to me and I have no problem calling someone out on it when they say something stupid like that in front of me. Some might call it cruel, obsessive, or nit-picky, but I call it attention to detail.

And you know what? If you're writing YA, you should most definitely stay away from using slang. Though "chillax" may be cool to say today, in a decade or so the next generation is going to laugh at anyone who actually said it. And dating your book like that is a very bad thing.

And uber. Uber is bad too. *shudder*

~Emily White


  1. I am anti-slang, too. When people speak "street" to me, it really drives me insane.

  2. Great points! Anything dating a book isn't good, unless you WANT to date the book lol!

  3. I'm with Mia. I also use slang online. I use a little when talking, depending on context and who I'm speaking to. "My bad" makes me squirm, but most slang of SoCal origin unnerves me. I thought it was funny in Clueless, but the entire point there was to poke fun at "cool."

    On the other hand, some slang can stress a geographical region. But I completely agree that it can be hard to avoid in dialog. Dating the story is not good, and I see that point. But language does convey lots of things about class, education, and so forth.

    So making a character "real" but not sound "old" or "preppy" without relying on slang in a YA piece, can be difficult. This is one I'm working on myself.

  4. I'm barely out of teenage-dom, and I can barely speak a lot of today's slang. Not all teenagers use slang, and of those that do, not all of them use the same words and phrases either. Putting slang in your work is definitely a way to date it. (Although the line between slang and colloquialism can be blurry.)

  5. You're right. You have to be careful with slang in YA. That's why it's best to stick with terms that have survived the times . . . or make up your own.

  6. I can understand how slang can get annoying, but it's hard to completely weed out. Sometimes a slang phrase is the only way I can sum up a personal feeling. I use awesome/awesomesauce and fantabulous on a regular basis when I'm talking and online chatting, but I keep them out of my fiction. But I don't really write anything contemporary: historical fantasy YA, fantasy, and SF. Any slang that will be in those will be derived from the culture.

    A little slang goes a long way.

    And for my vert word: let's have some RECESS!

  7. i understand what your trying to say but some people feel like they have to use slang, but an overuse if it does sound vile and stupid. living in london i hear slang everyday of my life and im use to it, infact i use it a bit myself but not to an extreme level. in a way its like a seperate language....lol, but i feel that whoever wants to use it should and those who dont shouldnt =)


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