The following was written by Marie-Charlotte, a 15 year old teen, who will be submitting articles to Connect with your Teens from the teens point of view.
All teens are bilingual. They speak the mainstream language when necessary and teen language among themselves. Parents want to understand these words so that they can relate and at least pretend to be in the know. It is already so difficult for some parents to communicate with teenagers. Not understanding the words that we use makes communication even more grueling, so here are some of the more important words you should know.
Parents may wonder why we think everything is “awkward” and why we say “I mean” before every sentence. Here’s an example of a teen conversation:
Teen A: Let’s go to Zabars for lunch.
Teen B: Awks [notice the shortening of awkward] how you promised we would eat at Euro Pan Pizza.
Teen A: I’m so prepared for the quiz.
Teen B: I mean, awks how I haven’t even studied.
These are easy enough to understand even for the thickest of parents. Being awkward is the equivalent to being cool in a profound way. Not cool as in the cool you might find in a middle school dictionary (Overrated, Out-of-style, Loser) but cool as in…for lack of a better word (and this one of from the 1960s), “groovy.” It may seem weird, but in some ways having quirky little nerd moments actually makes you appear cooler.
Then we are faced with words such as the incessant “like.” I am a teenager and even I can’t understand why we say like to fill up every pause. It’s as though “um” became trite and was replaced by the incredibly groovy “like”. And “whatever” is another teen standby as a non-committal holding word in teen conversation. Another example of a conversation:
Teen A: Why is he so, like, stupid?
Teen B: I know! I, like, hate him.
Teen A: Whatever. Do you want to like go to the movies at, like, 6:00?
Teen B: Sure, whatever. Wait, did I tell you who’s, like, coming to camp next year?
“Like” and “whatever” are not just bridging words from one thought to another, but also filler words, designed to fill the void in a conversation and avoid awkward silences (we teens HATE awkward moments). But, when you want to try to speak teen, don’t completely rule out the use of “um”. “Um” is a word that I doubt will ever leave any of us.
Another popular and potentially confusing term is “sick.” It has been a popular term for quite some time. Most teens are already moving on to “ill.” If I were to say, “Oh my God, your blackberry case is so sick!” I would basically be saying “Oh my God, your blackberry case is “hot.”” The same goes for “ill.” Although you don’t want to be sick, you do want to be a sick or ill person with sick or ill belongings. Get it?!
This next newly popular phrase is synonymous with freaking out. Well now, get ready for, “You’re, like, having a baby!” For example, in class the other day, a student raised his hand for almost every question and argued with those who said he was wrong. This act was swiftly met with, “You’re, like, having a child.” It means that they are acting as though the world will end tomorrow and EVERYTHING is about to change big-time. You can also use the phrase instead of saying “When she finds out she will have a cow.”
Kid. Cow. Whatever. Hope I cleared some things up for you. If not, awks…
I hope it is helpful learning how to connect with your teen directly from the source. Please let us know if there are any particular areas you would like her to cover in future articles.