Teen Speak – The Good, the Bad and the Infinite.
Teen Speak is the language frequently found across Facebook, Twitter, MSN, Bebo and many more social networking sites. It often baffles parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and any othermember of the family! As a teenager, one rapidly approaching fourteen, I have often thought about the subject, and wondered if it was really as bad, or good, as different opinions make out. This article looks at various perspectives on Teen Speak, as well as some other interesting points that don't often come up...
Starting with the bad, to get the worst over with, Teen Speak can be very confusing to those who don't understand it, or have even missed out on some of the latest terms. Like any other language, Teen Speak is always evolving and changing, albeit a lot quicker than more traditional languages. It is a language predominantly made up of abbreviations, and as soon as one person makes up a new word, it can and will be quickly spread around to school, town or even country. Also, like any other language, different areas speak and type Teen Speak in slightly different ways, making it confusing to understand what someone is saying. Many words can also mean something else, adding to the confusion, and sometimes it can be unclear what words mean. For example, if you tell a joke to your friendly (or not) teenager, and they reply lol with a completely straight face, it can be frustrating for those who do not understand. (I know that lol is a fairly common word now, first example to pop into my head!)
Another problem that causes division between parent and teenager is that parents have spent years, since the moment the teenager was born, teaching him or her how to talk, enhancing their vocabulary everyday with conversations. After spending so long trying to teach a teen how to speak, it can be infuriating hearing the English language twisted and bent. Also, it makes us teenagers sound very uneducated and badly brought up, which in most cases isn't true.
However, Teen Speak isn't all bad. In fact, it has some very good points, for example the fact it is a quick and easy way to communicate. When you are talking to multiple people at once, it is good to have a shortened way to speak, so people don't feel ignored. For example, it is a lot quicker to type: "Meet u at town tomoz, c u l8r" , than it is to type. "I will meet you at town tomorrow, see you soon". Also, when you suddenly need to go out, it is a lot easier to type : "Gotta go out, cya!" than it is to type "I have got to go out now, speak soon".
The many nuances of Teen Speak also can help us accurately tell whether someone is upset, happy, or making a joke. If someone is talking with full punctuation and correct spelling, it is often an indication that person is upset. If they are using smiley faces, it usually means they are happy. Over cyber space, sarcasm or jokes can easily be lost, so different ways of typing and smiley faces can be added to emphasise different parts of the sentence. It is a little like applying make-up or icing a cake: you start with the basic sentence you want to say, and then add different decoration to make it say what you want, how you want!
In this day and age, many people know and regularly use Teen Speak in day to day goings on. I have an aunt who regularly rofl's, a Nan who might not lol, but certainly cqtm (chuckles quietly to myself)! I have friends in other countries who, when I use more formal English, might not understand the terminology, but when I speak in the universal language of slang understand exactly what I mean. Go to anywhere in the world, and you will find many people who could tell you what lol, brb, or kk mean.
Finally, on to my last point, and perhaps the most interesting one. The point is, ready, drum roll please... Teen Speak isn't new! For generation after generation, the young people have made up slang that drove their parents to distraction, then grew up and had kids that would then drive them to distraction through their bizarre and wacky ways of talking. Words such as "wicked" or "hip", and goodness knows how many before that. Even back to Victorian times, you will find that children, especially ones in poorer districts, had a vibrant vocabulary which we in this day and age would have as much difficulty understanding as their parents did! You never know, perhaps in 500 years, they could look back at us and say: ï¬»ï¬¼ï¬µ ï¬¼ï€ï¬¸ï¬¾ïŠïŒïŠï€ï‹ïï¬²ï¬µ (What does lol mean?) ïŽï¬ ï¬«ïŠï¬®ï¬±ï¬¾ïŒïŠï¬¹ï¬¼ï¬¬ï¬´ï¬µï¬³ï‡ï‡ (No idea plrothk!)