Sara's Column: Text speak is for the teens

I was waiting at a traffic light the other day, and a school bus pulled up along side me.
Dec 13, 2013
Sara McManamy-Johnson

I was waiting at a traffic light the other day, and a school bus pulled up along side me.

I could hear the teenagers laughing and talking, and I heard one of them yell, “LOL!”

I cringed.

Sure, I’ve been known to text the popular acronym a time or two – OK, maybe a lot more often than that – but I’ve never quite understood using it in spoken conversation.

Why would you tell someone, “Laugh Out Loud,” when they’re standing right there to hear you laugh?

I’ll grant you, I’ve been accused of taking things a bit too literally at times.

But I started thinking about all the phrases that have snuck their way into the English language, their original meanings or purposes long forgotten.

Take “like,” for example.

Sure, it still has a distinct meaning, but it’s also become almost a filler word, something to act as a placeholder while you collect your thoughts.

As I was waiting at that stoplight, I quickly flashed to a recent conversation I had with a teen of about 14. We were speaking and I said, “Dude….”

He looked at me like I’d suddenly sprouted a third eye.

I realized at that point that I’d dated myself. Apparently no one says “dude” anymore. At least not the cool kids.

Each generation seems to have its own secret code, whether it’s “groovy,” “radical,” “rockin’,” “dude,” or even “YOLO” (i.e., you only live once, for the non-hipsters).

And I’m sure the parents of each respective generation cringed with every utterance.

“They’re butchering the language! What does that even mean?!”

I seem to remember my parents laughing and shaking their heads at my generation’s stash of slang.

I’ve realized, though, that this generation’s stash of slang is easily decipherable if you know the code key.

Text-speak.

It only makes sense, when you stop to think about it – after all, many of today’s teenagers have had their own cellphones, laptops, etc. since they were in grade school.

I almost kind of feel bad for this generation of teens, though.

Their secret code is not so secret, since my generation coined many of these abbreviations when we were too lazy to type out the full phrases during our ICQ and AOL chats.

So while I’ll probably continue to cringe every time I hear someone say “LOL,” I’ll refrain from comment, and I’ll probably play dumb when I hear someone say “YOLO.”

After all, it’s only fair that this generation of teenagers should have their own secret code.

 

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