July, 20 2018

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Need For Teenage-English Dictionary

Around the house, we have a Spanish-English dictionary, a French-English dictionary, Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and a few others.

But what we really may need is a Teenager-English dictionary.

It would have come in handy many times, such as when I first heard "fo' shizzle" and wondered what it meant.

The mysterious expression called up dormant skills from back when the kids were very young and we sometimes had to puzzle out what they were saying.

"My weep!" one used to yell when he wanted his toy broom to play at sweeping.

"See-Yo!" meant cereal.

Yo, dawg, those were the days.

Now the cryptic expressions we hear are teen slang, filtered down through pop culture or learned in the hallways at school.

And that old parental delight at the way little ones mispronounce words has morphed into uneasiness.

Should a parent worry about slang, or ignore it as an inevitable rite of passage?


Still, it's comforting to know other parents also sometimes feel stranded on the shores of yesterday's lingo.

Case in point: In the comic strip "Zits" recently, 15-year-old Jeremy Duncan looked into his lunch sack and found a boring sandwich, chips and apple.

He handed it back to his mother and said, "Pimp my lunch."

She responded, after asking him what the phrase meant, by putting some lettuce on his bologna and cheese.

A thousand thank-yous, creator of Zits, for that moment of vindication.

The meaning of pimp, as parents of TEENAGERS probably know, has flipped. Once a pejorative term for a person who exploits women, pimp now means to make something nice, stylish or pumped up with extras.

There's a show called "Pimp My Ride," for example, on which clunker cars are given customized makeovers.

But back to fo' shizzle.

Those who remember Pig Latin will understand the basic premise behind "izzle" speech, a recent fad, which is to delete a letter or two from a word and substitute "izzle."

Innocent enough, if izzle-talk wasn't also, usually, pimped up with bad words, perhaps because of its origins in the world of hip-hop.

As for what fo' shizzle means I've decided to translate it as, "Certainly, mom, whatever you say," and ignore it until it goes away, which it will.

That's one good thing about TEEN slang -- it's transient, but also one problem with creating a Teenager-English dictionary.

Another problem: Any Teenager-English dictionary would require a lengthy parent-to-teenager section as well.

Because they don't understand us any better than we understand them.

I found that out for the nth time during one of those conversations in which parents try to keep lines of communication open with friendly remarks.

Mine was about boys making (or not making) passes at lasses who wear glasses.

"Passes?" my son queried.

As far as he knew, passes happened only in sports.

"Let's bust out of this joint," he said, as we pulled into the driveway. Luckily, I knew that meant he was impatient to jack some calories from the refrigerator.

So we bounced from the car, which is so unpimped it's ghetto, and headed into the crib for some chow, or whatever they call it now.

They say the only way to truly learn another language is to immerse yourself in it.

Yo dat.

Now, where's my weep?

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