04 January, 2018

Decoding TeenLect

(Image Courtesy : DailyMirror via Google)

Have you recently had a conversation with a teenager ?

Well, it is a rather unique experience, a very enlightening one, one that will make you throw all your copies of the Oxford / Webster’s Dictionary or anything remotely connected with what you'd thought was normal human language, right out of the nearest window.

Welcome to the world of the TeenLect - The Teenage Dialect. 

Go and grab a seat within earshot of a bunch of teens, get yourself a nice cup of chamomile tea (chamomile is said to have calming properties on the human mind and if you’re going to sit and listen to a bunch of teens speaking, trust me when I say, you’re going to need that chamomile) and make sure you’re sitting next to a hard, concrete wall (just in case you need to turn around and bang your head on it … it happens every once in a while and it would save you the trouble of getting up to find a wall).

I asked Macadamia and Pecan something today and got a reply so encrypted that it would put spies the world over, to shame.  Having spoken to parents of other teens too, we are all in agreement about one thing –  teen replies, monosyllabic or otherwise, have left us convinced that space agencies all over the world have successfully managed to not just find extra-terrestrial life in the cosmos but that they’ve also transported a few of those life forms onto this planet too.

Macadamia, through her teen years has continuously and consistently foxed me with her brand of dialect.  For her, such language / slang is a natural thing but it used to leave me rather sapped and faded. I speak in the Past Tense because I was under the impression I was immunized and quite anaesthetized.  I thought wrong ! Pecan stepped into teen years and has decided to up the ante to an extent that leaves me rather breathless just trying to keep up with his brand of the teen dialect.

I feel like a headless chicken when talking to either one of them and it does make me rather acutely aware of my slowing synaptic responses. Robs me of the ability to think straight or rather, if it is one of those long-drawn conversations, it simply robs me of the ability to think altogether. I’m basically too busy trying to keep pace with the slangs that form such an integral part of their speech these days. If both of them are talking to me (or better still, fighting over something) then I retreat to a safe corner with a cup of that chamomile tea I told you about, earlier.

I vividly remember this incident a few years back when I was checking my emails and suddenly, a little box popped up seemingly out of nowhere on my gmail screen. It was Macadamia saying “ Heyloo – whatcha doin ?” Errr…. were we not in the same house, under the same roof ?? Sitting in the same house, having a conversation on Google Chat was a rather surreal experience for me. “OMG” she goes. I waited- simply waited for the bomb to drop. “Holy Cranberries !!!!!” appeared on the screen next. “Cranberries ?” I wondered, in a stupor of sorts. “Does she really mean the cranberry cranberries or is this an abbreviation or slang for something else ?” asked a portion of my brain that still happened to be sane. “Holy Cranberries” she typed “something’s seriously flipped”. OK – now we were “talking” about someone. Looking back at what happened though, it was really funny – me sitting in the bedroom, Macadamia and Pecan in the living room and us communicating through (of all the things) Google Chat !! The fun was absolutely compounded (for me, of course), given the fact that Macadamia was throwing language at me that I could hardly make any sense of. Later on, I was given to understand that Holy Cow was really old fashioned, Holy Moly has been used a lot of times and hence is really boring. Thus was born the new terminology “Holy Cranberries !”

Looking at it from a parent’s point of view, I would say they do parents a lot of good. They increase a parent’s imaginative power, they add “as yet unheard of” vocabulary to a parent’s dictionary, they work on increasing a parent’s fitness by getting them to work their facial muscles as never before done and they make parents teach themselves methods in self-preservation of sanity. Kids, ten and above, can be so effectively prolific in their communicative abilities that it simply leaves parents speechless, many a times.

The teen world, especially, seems to go into these phases, at times (fortunately, not all the time) wherein they sincerely believe that the words “HUH ??!!” and “STUFF ??” are more than sufficient, in their inexhaustible linguistic repertoire, to carry on what they deem, is an active two way communication with a parent.

Those single words have capacities beyond one’s imagination. But hold on. It is not just that word HUH what works its magic. It goes hand in hand with what we have, by now, named “The Look”.

The Look is a rather potent, lethal blend of “glazed over” eyes with slightly drooping eyelids. It is accompanied by lips that are either pursed together or stretched at the ends, giving out an aura of tediousness (don’t get me wrong – I am SO not talking about a smile here) and The Look would be more or less complete with eyebrows that would be raised about as high as they can go. A wee bit higher and they would be fused to the hairline!! “The Look” makes you feel right on top of the world, because apparently that’s where self-made dummies are usually found.

Now, today I asked Pecan something over Whatsapp and immediately comes the reply ‘cbbs’. While I was still trying to figure that one out, I sent him another question.  Yeah, what can I say ?  I’m an absolute glutton for punishment.  He replies saying ‘idts’.

You get the drift, don't you ?

By the time Macadamia and Pecan are done speaking those sentences that sound progressively like some alien language, I’m usually found reeling someplace in the house, trying my best to look normal and retain my composure, attempting to figure out what had actually been said. By the time my brain actually comprehends what they’ve said and by the time I formulate an appropriate response in a more human language, the siblings would have moved on to something else altogether, leaving me gaping and gasping like a fish out of water.

Ok. Let’s try some on you, shall we ? :-D

On point / on fleek / OOTD / OOTN / Ship / Otp / NOtp / Slay / TBT / idts / iccl / Dingis / sksv …… and the list goes on !!
Let’s see how many of you, who were, in all probability laughing at the sorry figure I must have cut earlier, figure those out ??!!

Did I just hear you say you don’t know what those intellectually coordinated strings of letters mean?  Seriously ??!!”

Well then, you’ve just been introduced to the infamous ‘TeenLect’.
I should probably patent that term and run classes called ‘Decoding TeenLect’.
For those attending, I promise a free flow of chamomile tea.  On the house !

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