Every generation has its own slang terms that generally confuse the older generations that came before them. For instance, kids today are saying things like “bussin” when something is really good. Usually, it’s in reference to food, or so I’m told, but it could be anything. Or perhaps you’ve heard the word “bet” in response to someone asking if your plans are still on for later. This one wasn’t as confusing as a few I’ve heard. Some slang terms go full circle and come back around. Just like fashion. Young people think they’ve created something when really, it originated with their great-grandparents or even *gasp* their parents.
But what about words for things that aren’t necessarily considered slang… they’re more or less just outdated terms from the “old world?” I mean I’m sure pretty much everyone calls pants, pants now. My grandparents, however, generally referred to them as slacks. Do you ever remember your grandparents taking you to see the pictures? Of course, when I say pictures, I’m not referring to a photo album store but rather the movie theater or cinema. Speaking of which, it used to be just cinema. Now it’s the movie theater. As a kid, I remember wearing galoshes which are practically only referred to as rainboots today. At least to my knowledge. Do teens even go necking anymore? I doubt most of them even know what it means, but yeah, I’m sure they still probably do it.
While I’m on the topic of speaking the proverbial “old tongue,” I have a small story that highlights exactly what I’m talking about. Just the other day I was out shopping with my daughter, and I told a young cashier at the store that I loved her blouse. It was in fact quite lovely. Sheer black with a muted white design, buttoned collar. As soon as the words left my mouth, I had that weird sensation that you get when you think someone is awkwardly staring at you for a reason you’re not completely aware of. As I looked up from digging my wallet out of my needlessly cavernous purse, I found that I was right. This young woman had the most confused look on her face as she tried to make sense of what I had just said to her. After a few seconds she had given up and responded hesitantly with, “…my what?”
As I was trying to figure out what blouse might rhyme with that could cause offense if misheard (in an effort to know what type of apology needed to be offered), my daughter swooped in, and quickly explained to her that I was talking about her top. Apparently, my daughter explained later, no one says blouse anymore. The cashier’s face brightened and she cheerfully said, “thank you!” The crisis created by my attempt at a compliment was averted. In that moment, I felt old. So old.
This whole situation reminded me of some previous writings where I discuss my ability to bewilder my kids with phrases that I’ve grown up with that they’ve never heard of. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Piss or get off the pot.
- It’s like trying to herd cats.
- I’ve got no dog in this fight.
- That dog won’t hunt.
But blouse?? Come on, that’s a common term, right? When did we stop saying blouse? Who knows, I was probably absent that day.
As each generation develops, matures into form, there are, different uses of meanings of words and, phrases, and, the former generation may not understand what this current generation is, referring to, and that, is where, the generation gaps, occur, and we, as younger generations, try to, adapt ourselves to, what this, younger generation is talking about, using the words, expressions that are, foreign to us, and yet, we can’t, ask our elders to, accustom themselves, to our uses of language, because, they’re, already, set in their, beliefs and ways of thouhts, and, that’s why, we have more of that, advantage, compared to our parents’, generations, in the sense that, we can adapt, more easily.
Sometimes the differences are geographically generated. To most British, pants are ‘underpants,’ and, somehow, ‘fanny’ has moved around to the front, and is not mentioned in polite company. Anyone within 500 miles of Atlanta refers to all soft drinks as Coke, even if the are Pepsi or RC. 😳