Laura A. Diaz ____ Teach Write

TEACHER, AUTHOR, EDUblogger "I want to (read and) write books that unblock the traffic jam in everyone's mind." ~J. Updike

Chill, It’s All Good! What So Wrong With Slang? A study of my use of slang and snorting when I laugh

One rare and lazy Saturday afternoon, I parked myself at my local Barnes and Nobles/Starbucks, and happened to hear from a nearby table, “Chill! It’s all good, Ellie!”

And then the reply, “You do know that as a grandmother you shouldn’t talk like that?”

The grandmother replied, “I was saying ‘cool’, ‘awesome’, and ‘chill’ before you were even born, girlie.”

Yes, the grandmother! Now if you think the grandmother’s use of slang had me gritting my teeth and calling Grammar Girl, you’d be wrong. Although the grandmother was much older than me (so I’d like to think), I felt a sense of kinship. You see, I have been guilty of peppering my casual conversations with “cool,” “awesome,” and yes, the ever-annoying “dude.”

However, this unintended eavesdropping did mark the beginning of some serious introspection for me. I began to consider that when those first few lines around our eyes begin to appear in the mirror, if our use of the slang from our youth should begin to disappear?

Chances are that even the most hardened ambassadors for the proper use of the English language would find that they unknowingly use slang in their everyday speech. For instance, if you refer to someone as being an “ace” at something, that’s slang! If you say “O.K.,” that’s slang! Okay, so maybe that’s not as bad as “awesome” or “dude,” right?

Not right! Emma Thompson would disagree. The 51-year-old Oscar winner told the Radio Times in September 2010 that people who used slang when they spoke drove her “insane.” She added, “Just don’t do it. Because it makes you sound stupid.”

Elena Neitlich, an international etiquette expert who has trained etiquette trainers in over 30 countries and is owner of “Etiquette Moms” by Moms on Edge, says that although she agrees with Thompson to a point, she views the teen use of slang as “harmless.”

However, regarding adult use of slang, Neitlich says, “I believe that by the time we reach adulthood, our days of exploiting the slang lexicon are over. Slang use by adults is ‘ginormously’ sophomoric.”

Is “ginormously” slang? Or “sophomoric”?  I’m so confused!

Concerning slang use in general, “Etiquette Moms” list a few simple rules:

  1. Never use your kids’ slang.
  2. Kids can use slang with each other but never with an adult.
  3. Abstain completely from sexual slang; it’s offensive.

Teens agree with Moms on Edge about the adult use of teen slang. In fact, there is a Facebook page, “Adults shouldn’t use teen slang,” dedicated to protesting this heinous crime. The page Officers, listed only as Debra’s Doodle, Vernacular Vigilante, and Jessica Wallace, Jessican of Jargon, say on the page description, “Adults out there get your hands off our vernacular!” They go on to clarify this statement by saying, “Don’t worry if you’re in your early to mid twenties…BUT OLDER ADULTS THERE, we are watching you!”In fact, in 2008, they claimed August 20th as “International Correct an Adult Using Slang Day.” Wow! Sounds harsh, dude! I think I’ll stay home on that day.

Is there anyone out there who thinks adults SHOULD speak slang with their teens? I don’t think so; but there are those who say parents need to know WHAT their teens are saying in order to understand them.

Joining this movement is “Middle Earth,” a non-profit, community-based organization in Somerset, California. Their March 2010 article, “Teen Slang and Acronyms,” provides a list of common teen slang and encourages parents: “Although sometimes it feels easier to live in the dark rather than try to understand teenspeak,” parents shouldn’t give up.

In an article in The Independent, “Teenspeak is not for adults,” Martha Robinson writes that adults should steer clear of teen vernacular. She says, “You don’t need to speak like a teenager to speak to one, but you’d better respect them enough to talk to them like a grown-up.”

I am in agreement with many of the points Robinson and the “Etiquette Moms” make. However, is it really so wrong to occasionally use teen slang from our own era?

I am the mother of three teenage boys, two teenage girls, and a “tween,” 12-year-old girl. Since I have my finger so firmly placed on the pulse of teen angst, I decided to interview the “real” experts.

My sons, unanimously, with all of the enthusiasm a teen of the male persuasion can give, each mumbled a variation of, “I don’t care. You got anything to eat?”

My daughters shed a more illuminating light on this perplexing puzzle, especially my 17-year-old, who told me that she didn’t mind my occasional use of “awesome” or “cool.” She even said that this just made an adult more personable when they occasionally used their own slang. She made this stipulation, however: “If you try to use our slang, like, ‘bomb-diggety, or ‘g’, I tell you this—we’ll just stop listening to you altogether, ’cause it’s fake!”

She then put her arm around me in a motherly gesture and reminded me that I should never go to work and say to my boss, “Dude! This is awesome!” In an echo sounding vaguely like my own voice, she continued, “Because we both know that there is a time and place for casual conversation. Capeesh?”

My 13-year-old chimed in with, “Yeah. What she said. You just gotta’ stop snorting when you laugh. Because that’s WAY more embarrassing!”

So, this is my vow to all those teens up-in-arms with adults who hijack their teenglish: I will never tell you that something is ‘bomb-diggety’ or ‘g.’

However, you will just have to bear with me if I tell you, “Dude! You’re gonna’ hafta’ chill!  This is an awesome movie and the light from your cell phone is so NOT cool!

But about that snorting business when I get to laughing?

Chill, it’s all good!



14 comments on “Chill, It’s All Good! What So Wrong With Slang? A study of my use of slang and snorting when I laugh

  1. Zeb
    December 6, 2015

    This was fun to read.


  2. Sherrie
    August 22, 2015

    Thanks! Hilarious mom.


  3. MarissaHewitt
    May 29, 2015

    This made me laugh so hard! Thanks for this. I really needed a pick me up today. 🙂


  4. Travis
    March 5, 2015

    Thank you for the laugh I really need this today! Keep writing you have a great style.
    Best wishes,


  5. LizBrandon
    July 20, 2014

    Chill, it’s all good! This article I mean. Hilarious! You had me laughing out loud. Also, very challenging. TKO Technical Knock Out.


  6. RichardS
    July 20, 2014

    Say whuuuut? This is SICK! Just kidding! Love this, love the solid information you’ve got here, and apreciate your relatable honesty.


  7. Travis
    May 28, 2014

    I was laughing so hard! Your writing is so visual!


  8. Michelle'sMommy
    May 28, 2013

    This is awesome and so are you!


  9. NanaV
    May 28, 2013

    Good posting, you had me laughing out loud and nodding all the way through. Keep up the wonderful writing.


  10. Tica
    May 28, 2013

    ROFL! 😉


  11. dylan dude
    May 22, 2013

    LMAO! Y o u had me at Chill!


  12. ddclaywriter
    April 23, 2013

    Hi Laura,
    thanks for checking in on my blog site.


  13. I just kept smiling all the way through your post… I sometimes use the slang equivalent in Spanish with friends my age, but I make it a point to aboid even a hint of it in front of my students and children… I do think it blurs the line of respect we strive to define… My mom suddenly uses words that my sister and I used when we were in highschool and it isnsomfunny to hear her using them in a sentence… Vintage slang, jajajaaaa gracias por in post tan divertido! Read you soon, Alexandra


  14. ddclaywriter
    April 21, 2013

    Reblogged this on Clay Tablets.


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This entry was posted on April 21, 2013 by in Beyond, Christian Life, Latina blogs, On Being a Parent and tagged , , , , , , .
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