The teenagers I know seem to talk what sounds and feels “like” another language (or dialect), “ya know.” And (sadly) sometimes they grow into young adults who keep the teenage verbal ticks.
This post is literally prompted and inspired by a conversation had between my daughter, her father and I. We can’t help but notice how her language fluctuates depending on whom she is spending time with. Does this ever happen to you?
My daughter is approaching the most important age of 12 and as a Middle Schooler I watched before my very eyes her language habits morph quickly. Somewhere in elementary school, even with a mother like me, who “Teaches and Preaches” writing and speaking intentionally for a livelihood, she picked up some “habits” I hope she loses before high school, and like really soon. Yes, I wrote that.
And yes, I get that she lives in an age where communicating is changing and she will be subject to even more change in technology than I ever was.
Take TEXTING or CHAT via Messenger or Yahoo or Facebook or GMail. It didn’t exist for me, a teen of the 1980s. As much as I stayed connected to my best friend during school, passing notes in classes or talking between them, we always phoned each other as soon as we got home “to talk.” My mother said often, “Didn’t you just spend five classes at school with her? What more could we have to discuss?”
A lot mom! Parents just don’t understand. Oh, wait, I am now the parent and my own daughter is telling me…a similar story. I am determined to understand BUT she wants to text her friend who lives quite close and that darn alert is driving me crazy. “Why don’t you just call her,” say I. “Mom, that isn’t how we do it and she doesn’t like to talk on the phone so much, you know,” she replies. (So instead i set time limits on her chats that are nothing but short and pithy lines back and forth full of acronyms that stand for exclamations and my question is: so how does her verbal skill evolve in a silent dialogue of TTYL and OMG and BFF and LMFAO?)
My wish for her and her peers is that they learn the multi-faceted art of conversation (written and spoken) and appreciate an ability to “talk” as much as they do the ability to “text” or “fring.”
Texting with all its shortcuts is here to stay, and luddite me simply holds the hope that writing and speaking in complete sentences never becomes fully passe. (At least, till we can jump from speaking to pure telepathy.) But wait, even if we could read minds, don’t we still have need for a means to record our thoughts? Not all of us are gifted with a photogenic memory.
If you have ever experienced someone with a photogenic memory, it’s quite remarkable. In high school I LOVED that my favorite history teacher, Mr. Oder had an encyclopedic memory for stories (not in the textbooks) that made Modern European and United States History FAR MORE memorable.
A good story, well told, with exquisite details shared just so; may it never go out of style.
My Bottomline for now: 1. Sometimes Less is More. 2. Striking the right balance is the art of communication. 3. I hope our younger generations don’t entirely abandon Strunk and White.
P.S. I would “like” to acknowledge that I DO realize that language as spoken and written will continue to change and what constitutes “good writing and great storytelling” will shift as it has been shifting since the invention of “cave drawings.” And I could be “down with that.”