Decoding the Language of Youth

‘The party was so lit. She totally slayed in that outfit. Ugh, I can’t even right now . . . I have a serious FOMO! Bye Felicia. POTD on the gram. We ‘bout to get turnt. I’m watching GG tonight ICYMI. He’s so OTT. Eyebrows on fleek. TTYL, bae!”

In all honesty, how many of you made sense of the above sentence? I am sure you’ve already Googled it. Or reached for your dictionary. Better luck with the urban dictionary, though. The above is a small sample of what is fast becoming the language of the young. Yes, and not so young!

Sure, it’s understandable why many of us use abbreviations when texting or chatting on social media. Who really wants to be sending long messages for half an hour? Who wants to waste precious time reading long messages (even when you have nothing else to do)? Most people don’t. But here’s the thing: abbreviations seem to have taken over regular speech and Standard English! I’ve heard it and I’m one hundred percent sure you have too. Nowadays, instead of sharing laughs, we write ‘Lol’ – shorthand for “laughing out loud.” Why? Is it that hard to let out some happy endorphins?

The cited abbreviations are briskly finding a home in the Oxford Dictionary. The English vocabulary is evolving with immeasurable speed. For example: “slay” once meant, “to kill, violently”. Today it means “sexy”or “succeeded in something”. It’s interesting to note how words change their meaning. You can’t help wondering how long before the older generation is unable to communicate with its offspring. I guess that’s something they’ll have to learn, in the same way they learned to text and e-mail.

WTH is wrong with your phone!

WTH is wrong with your phone!

I remember saying to some younger cousins: “The way you’re texting, I hope you don’t write like that in school.” But come to think about it, even the older among us use our smart phones to send out gibberish. At social gatherings or while hanging out with friends, we’re constantly on our phones. Some pretend to be busy on our phones so as to appear popular. Maybe some who seem attached to their phones are actually bored enough to turn to their phones for entertainment.

Many UK teachers are unhappy at the increase in the number of children who are using text-speak or social networking chat—such as 2mor, msg, lol and bk—in place of English grammar. Abbreviations commonly used on sites such as Twitter and Facebook are also making it into coursework, essays and experiment write-ups.

The majority of UK teachers believe mobile phones and computers are responsible for children being unable to spell as well as earlier generations. They also say children can’t write as well as they should because they are more used to keyboards and touch pads.

I am sure that teachers here in the Caribbean would be similarly alarmed.

Now, don’t get me wrong; social media and technology are both convenient ways to communicate with one another and gain more information. But we should also be able to communicate verbally! Know when to use the abbreviations and know words like “lol” or “fomo,” “brb” or “ttyl.” Oh, and allow me to translate the opening statement for you in case you haven’t yet figured it out.

“The party was fun. She looked hot in that outfit. I can’t handle it. I feel I am missing out. Anyway, that should be the photo of the day on Instagram. We are going to raise the roof.

I am watching Gossip Girl tonight, in case you missed it. He is so over the top. His eyebrows are perfect. Talk to you later, babe.”

(“Brb” is be right back.)

There you have it, folks!

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