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?

By Laura Diaz original article published for  BlueSuit Mom Magazine 2010Image

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!”

Then , 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! 😉



  1. jenny
    December 10, 2015

    Thanks for the chuckle. Very relateable.


  2. Taylor
    August 26, 2015

    This was funny! Thanks, I needed a smile of encouragement today.


  3. MoniquQ
    August 10, 2015

    Fun article, thanks for this.


  4. David P.
    August 9, 2015

    Good job!


  5. Carlos
    August 9, 2015

    This made me laugh. I bought your book by the way. You are an awesome storyteller.


  6. Chase
    June 9, 2015

    Hilarious… true. 🙂


  7. Roger
    June 7, 2015

    I do the same thing myself. The snoring part. Fun post!


  8. cher
    February 14, 2015

    Good info! Your site has been real helpful. Thanks!


  9. Monty
    November 10, 2014

    Very entertaining. Love your blog.


  10. Calvin Enzo.
    November 7, 2014

    This cracked me up!


  11. Jordan Jenkins
    November 6, 2014

    This is so funny but also so true. Thanks for taking the time to do this and giving me a smile today. J.J.


  12. Missy Simmons
    November 4, 2014

    You write in a way that has me picturing everything you’re talking about. Very fun!


  13. Nikki
    October 19, 2014

    Okay, I was laughing so hard I coughed on a skittle I was snacking on and it pinged of my pc screen. thanks for the chuckles. this is a great blog with lots of humour and useful resources. Keep it up, thanks.


  14. ray
    October 17, 2014

    Wow! True and hilarious.It’s all cool and chill. 😉


  15. Bee
    August 20, 2014

    Great site, Thanks for sharing!!


  16. prsachs
    January 6, 2014

    A very interesting post. Thank you for liking my post “Empire”
    Regarding this topic, I tease my children, who are all in their 20s, by using slang from the 70s. “you’re going out tonight?” “yes” “where are the cool places to get down, nowadays?.” They groan, I laugh. they laugh.


  17. bntroadstar
    December 9, 2013

    I agree that it’s important to a least know what your teens are saying, but to so far remove yourself to the point of using no slang can make a parent seem cold and uncaring. In the professional world, depending on where you are working, most office atmospheres are becoming relaxed enough that co-workers are free to use common speech so long as it’s not in use for or in front of customers. Some places even encourage common speech with customers to make the them feel more at ease, like hair salons, grocery stores, and your average restaurant (not upscale). On a side note, I think it’s ridiculous that a parent should be sending their child to “charm school” to learn the essentials of respect, value, and integrity. If you’re too busy to teach your children the basics, then you shouldn’t be having them, am I right?


    • Laura A. Diaz
      December 14, 2013

      Thanks! I think you and I are on the same page with this one. I found it comforting to know that even though I am slang guilty, my kids seem to understand the time and place deal. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: