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Teenagers!

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Carrie Carrie | 22:16 UK time, Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Hi everyone,

A couple of weeks ago, I took a group of teenage girls away for a cooking weekend - basically a weekend spent teaching them how to cook some traditional British dishes (you'll find one of the recipes here: in the next few days). Spending time in a kitchen with a group of teenagers, you get to hear some interesting conversations! It wasn't long before the adults realised some of the girls were speaking a completely different language and so we sat down with them and had an English language lesson!

I'm sure this happens with every generation: particularly with teenagers - they have their own language, which is constantly changing. Words go in and out of fashion. I was trying to remember what words were in fashion when I was a teenager - but it was so long ago, I seem to have forgotten! However, no-one these days uses words like groovy or fab or says "Buzz off", and if you call a woman "a chick" you are likely to get a very rude reply! Some words even change their meaning over the years: in the 1970s, "sick" meant something odd or peculiar. When today's teenagers use "sick" they mean "cool" - which is a good thing!

Teenagers

My teenage dictionary experts!

But with this generation, language seems to be changing faster than ever before - the spoken language and the written language (then again, maybe I'm just getting older). I made two of them sit down with me and write a dictionary. I've explained the first few words, but can you work out what the rest of them mean? Here goes:

  • Innit = I agree - this can be used at the end of a sentence as a question or just as a statement in reply to someone
  • Peak/peaky-peaky = shame or "how embarrassing"
  • Younger = a good friend who is younger than you
  • Older = a good friend who is older than you
  • Wasteman = an idiot
  • Butters = ugly (this isn't very polite at all!)
And now it's your turn: what do you think these words mean?
  • Bounce
  • My bad
  • Jars - as in "It jars me"

Strangely, some of the written text language used on mobile phones has now become spoken language too. For example: LOL - means laugh out loud. Apparently, as well as using it in reply to a funny text message, you can also say it when someone tells you something funny - either spelling out the letters L.O.L. or saying lol as if it was a word. And how about that most common of slang words: OK? Well OK has been around for almost 200 years - but when teenagers want to send a text message on their mobiles they type "kk" instead of "ok" as it's quicker. Now OK has become kk in spoken language too. Hmmmm.

And finally... one of the words the teenagers told me was "beef" meaning an argument, but that was a word I understood and didn't need explained. So I did a bit of digging on the internet and discovered that this meaning of "beef" has been around since the late 1800s!! So it just goes to show that not everything is new!!
Don't forget to let me know what you think those teenage slang words mean!

Take care

Carrie

Groovy: Cool (today's teenagers would say "sick" instead of groovy!)
Fab: short for fabulous
Buzz off: Go away!
A chick: a pretty woman

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Hello Carrie!

    Thank you for writing such an interesting blog. I find teenagers using new words quite interesting but on some occasions I wish if they speak a bit formal language. I often notice my students use this new language in everyday speaking but I really don't like to see it in their writing as this takes the academic learning away from its standard of approval.

    I think I can only answer one of the three words you have given to write the meanings of. I only know 'My bad' and I learnt it through Hanna Montana and now I also use it. So it's an interesting way to say my bad when you admit your mistake and apoligise for that. I am eagerly looking forward to learn the meanings of bounce and jars. Another word I have learnt in Keep your English up to date is 'Pants' which means rubbish or 'poor quality'.

    Have a supertastic weekend!

    Naheed

  • Comment number 2.

    thanks for this intrestig blog . Sorry but i dont know the meaning of any these words > but these blog was realy helpful to me

  • Comment number 3.

    Your post is very interesting!!

  • Comment number 4.

    As Naheed I would guess that "my bad" has the same meaning as "my fault" or "my mistake".

    As far I know "jar" has the same meaning as "dissonance" Therefore I think "It jars me" means the same as "I am offended" or "I am annoyed" or simply "I am angry". But this is just guessing.

    I´ve found the expression "bounce" several times in the internet. When an email bounces, it is sent back. Despite of this "bounce" could have thousands of meanings, at least this is my impression. I like this word.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Carrie,
    Your blog is quite interesting. Sometimes, I surf around the net and meet many slang words, it's quite difficult for me to understand all of information. And I found that it seems the teenager now prefer to use slang to assert higher class in their friends' eyes. I don't like that.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi dear carrie ! How are you ? it 's too nice that we can hear from you times to time . most of the time I remember you in my mind and I say myself She is so busy to drop us some lines maybe some trips and so on . Please try to write more to us as you know it means a lot for us and they are so helpful as well ! Your latest blog we so interesting as you said teenagers use their own languages and they invent new words so rapidly ! thank you for the words meaning and keen on learn more about UK teenage language ! have a fab Sunday and bye !
    X0X0X

  • Comment number 7.

    Hello Carrie,
    I apprehended and rhetorical command over jargon. It replenished communicative work . I felt ur explanation well organised.Thanks for being with us.
    Raghuram Boddeda.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hello Carrie,
    I absoultely agree with your points. Teens easily use several words in their convienent. for example: you-u, are-r,yes-s,be right back-brb,tomorrow-2morrow,before-b4,Tea-t.I'm seeing these words when I'm chatting with my cousins,friends.Sometime,I don't understand. I came to know that,one of the professors was opposing the practices in different manner which leads complication when evaluation.I read the judgment of Indian Supreme court,this type of practice not permitting when student answering question in any examination.
    Carrie,thanks to be part of day to day usage and changes in the practices.
    Raghuram Boddeda
    Hemalatha Kandregula

  • Comment number 9.

    Hello Carrie,

    I'm a French teenager, I don't know any meanings of these words!
    However, I totally agree with you when you say that the world and words change very fast ! That's our generation, it must due to the development of social networks, and the Internet!

    Although , I can't bear when a person send me an email, whith abbreviation, or " LOL ", or "MDR in French " Mort de Rire" or anything else.

    A very interesting blog at all.
    Emilie, France

  • Comment number 10.

    Hello Carrie,
    To be honest, I think this is one of the most depressing aspects of learning a language and in particular, learning English. I mean, not the teenagers - they're perfectly okay! But slang in general, and especially the rapidly changing forms of it. It is something where I feel, no matter how hard you try, language is always ahead of you, moving faster than you can attempt to master it and, what is more, "behaving" in a different way on either side of the Atlantic Ocean (not to speak of Australia, New Zealand or South Africa, etc., of whose language I know next to nothing.)
    Of course I have no idea what the expressions you mentioned mean. (Maybe I should have watched - what? Hanna Montana?) I don't even dare to guess - it would probably be ridiculously wrong. So, please tell us quickly!
    CU
    Elisabeth (Austria)

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Carrie,
    I have no idea what these words mean but I think, "It jars me" could be something like "It annoys me". Or not? I don't know... The other two words are very mysterious for me.
    Have a nice day,
    Tereza (Czech republic)

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi Carrie,

    It is quite interesting your blog. Now I look those kind of short words in every language. My daughter always are using it, some times I can guess the meaning, and sometimes not. So, following the explanation I will try to guess:
    It jars me, That make me nervous.
    Bounce, great.

    I don´t know. Please let me know.

    Regards,
    Mario

  • Comment number 13.

    This is an interesting article. It also help us to [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] learn English. Thank you.

  • Comment number 14.

    Dear Carrie,
    Thank you so much for interesting story. I know the meaning of words because of you and now I can understand, use them. Lots of word is changing and for example, in Russian we have the same situation. Sometimes I cannot understand some words in Russian because our teenagers have changed the meanings. A lot of English words come to Russian and our older generations also have problems with the meaning. In Kyrgyzstan our citizens speak in Kyrgyz mixed with Russian and English but English they use less than Russian. It is because my Homeland was a part of the Soviet Union.

  • Comment number 15.

    Hello, Carrie. What a interesting story. In every language young people change/create new words and older people (this is may case) have to take as own. I have no clue about the other words. By the way, "sick" also means "ill" , isn't? or may be I'm wrong.
    Regards.
    Marcelo from Argentina.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi carrie, tanks for this blog. i think that kind of topics are really important and are such a good complemnt. i don't have any idea what this words means.
    I would dare to say that "it jars me", probably means something like "it affects me

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi, Carrie!

    It´s really interesting to know about others countries culture. Here in Brazil, specifically in Rio de Janeiro, where I'm from, teenagers invent a lot of slangs too.
    Instead of LOL we use 'rsrsrs....' that means the sound of laughing.
    It's well worth knowing what is changing around the world, in terms of language, although I think that is only for teenagers themselves, because as a not native English speaker, we shouldn't speak like them. In fact, we must speak a formal language just to be understood wherever we go.

    Thanks for sharing these discoveries with us!!!

    Kisses in your "tum-tum" (means the sound of heartbeat)!

  • Comment number 18.

    Hi,

    I've read through all the replies so far and found that I am not the only one not to know the slang words. Although, there were of course some, as I suppose, good suggestions: Naheed's and Nina's « admit your mistake and apoligise for that » for « My bad! », and Nina's and Tereza's "I am annoyed" for « it jars me ». As for « bounce » the dictionary seems to use it as a slang term to mean « eject », much more negative than mrf's « great », and probably even Nina wouldn't like the word if she herself was fired.

    Like other people here, I find the blog interesting. So thanks. But may I ask some grammar questions? Carrie, you write « I was trying to remember what words were in fashion when I was teenager ». I wonder if « when I was teenager » instead of what I would have expected « when I was a teenager » is a typo, spoken English or even standard English? In Swedish I would use « tonåring », ~ « teenyearing ». That is a word that ends by an -ing, like stripling, youngling,
    duckling, fledgeling. In Swedish I wouldn't use the indefinite article, so it does not shock me that you didn't use it. But I've learnt that the indefinite article should be used in many cases where it should not be used in Swedish, as in he is a teacher, a doctor, an actor etc.

    My second question is also about an article or rather the lack of it. You write: « When today's teenagers use "sick" they mean "cool" - which is good thing! » Had you written « which is something good » I would have agreed with you, but « which is good thing » sounds strange to me. Is it a typo, were you in a hurry, or is it correct English?

  • Comment number 19.

    OK! First of all, I am hanging my head in shame! Kirsti, you are quite right: 2 typos! I have now corrected them - well spotted!

    Are you ready for the answers? Actually you've all done really well.

    Bounce: to leave
    My bad: my mistake
    Jars - as in "It jars me": it annoys me

    Mind you, knowing teenagers, by the time you all read this, they may have completely charged the meanings!!

    @Naheed: if you like KYEUTD you'll also like The English We Speak: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/language/theenglishwespeak/

    @Pary: I'm never too busy to drop you a line ;-) It's just that we now have a staff blog rota - so my turn doesn't come round all that often!

    @Raghuram and Emilie: that's really interesting about the court ruling - and in my opinion it's right. I think some things are fine as text messages, but in an essay, certain standards should apply. I thought maybe it was just me getting old - but then I read Emilie's comment and now I feel much better!

    @Elisabeth: I shall have to watch Hannah Montana too!

    @Marcelo: yes, sick means ill. If you take "sick leave", for example, you take a day off work because you are ill. Yu can also "pull a sickie": this is a slang expression meaning to contact your place of work and tell them you are sick and cannot come to work when really there is nothing wrong with you!

    @Ana: I love rsrsrs

    That's all from me!

    Take care

    Carrie

 

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