Sup, Emo and Homie: "WTF are kids talking about?"
Barry Artiste, Now Public Contributor
Ah, Yes, the Gansta Lexicon of Languages spoken by our Kids regardless that they would not know a Gangster if it slapped them upside the head. My own child at times uses "Wass up", "Homie", "Gangsta", "Homeboy" etc.
Yes, the Whitebread set want to be the Faux Gangsta Niggas from the streets. Though the closest they ever get to the "Hood" is when playing "Grand Theft Auto".
If I were a Black Man, I would be furious at these stereotypes, no wonder as Bill Cosby, much to the outrage of the Black Community, stated "As a people, we are our own worst enemy"! Truer words ever spoken.
Many such as P.Diddy, and other Rappers, may use Gangsta in their music and with friends, but when it comes to business use proper English, as they know which side their Bread is Buttered on. Are they hypocrites? Hell NO, they are selling a product, themselves, a product identifed by a disenfranchised youth, who dream of one day being a P.Diddy, or a Will Smith!
This in stark contrast with some who once they become famous, the closest they ever get back to the hood is when shooting a music video.
I just friggin cringe when I hear my son and his friends speak Gangsta like he is a slack jawed guest on Maury Povich or Springer. He is not a Gangsta, he is a spoiled middle class kid with every opportunity afforded him. Though for a couple of years, we lived in a First Nations community when I was working there, there was a Hood Mentality amongst the community kids. But far from the street Ghettos of New York.
First Nations Elders would want to bitch slap the taste out of the youths mouth when their Blood and Crips street language got the best of them, especially in front of an elder. First Nations, have enough stereotypes to deal with they certainly did not need new ones. And I agree.
Even Disney animated movies trying to be Hip and Uber Cool interject Gangsta Lexicons into their story lines.
These movies are geared towards pre and primary school children, is this something you want your child to be spouting in public? Give me a friggin break, learn the Kings English or be forever known as Slack Jawed Rapping Yokel. God gave you a brain, so you may as well use it.
I have yet to see a successful person other than Celeb Rappers who use Gangsta Language. Much like Hippies did during the Flower Power generation.
My son, 19, wanted to go to the SharkClub last night and was told by a Bartender friend their new policy is to wear a button down plain solid coloured shirt as coloured patterned shirts or shirts may be construed as Gang Colours.
Hopefully my son will grow out of this idiocy, but when ladies are all a flitter over Gangsta Language, he is stuck for the time being.
In my Opinion, those in their 20's to 40's who do not dress age appropriate and constantly use Gangsta Language in their daily life in all liklihood pretty much have their future careers mapped out for them in the Fast Food Industry or as I said before as guests on Maury Povich in any episode of "Who's Yer Daddy Beeyach!" I never knew "Low Intelligence" was a way to impress the babes.
Sup, emo and homie: what are kids talking about?
Mark Abley's new book, The Prodigal Tongue: Dispatches from the Future of English, takes a look at the wild, wacky and sometimes baffling road our language is taking in its evolution. In this excerpt, he asks a class of teenagers to teach him the latest slang.
On a bright October afternoon, I was standing in front of a class of sixteen
and seventeen-year-olds in a small town west of Montreal. Their English teacher had invited me to give a writing workshop in the high school library. The hour was nearing its end when abruptly I switched course. Instead of talking about metaphors and similes, sweet conclusions and dynamite beginnings, I asked each student to jot down a few words or phrases that older people would not understand, and then provide a brief definition for each term. I gave the class no advance warning. The risk was that this impromptu assignment would induce a yawn-filled silence, a retreat into heavy-lidded boredom. But instead the students-especially the girls, I noticed-set about the task with enthusiasm.
"You mean any words?" said a preppy-looking girl in blue. "Even the ones that aren't in the dictionary?"
"Especially the ones that aren't in a dictionary," I replied.
I waited a couple of minutes-time was short-and asked for the results. Arms filled the air. Hands waggled. I'm a reader, a parent, a viewer, a listener; I thought that all together, the students might come up with a dozen words I didn't know. So much for the vanity of age.
Cheddar, said the first, meaning "money, lavish earnings." (I'll give this and all the other definitions in the students' exact words.) He got owned, said another: "rejected, shut down, beat up." On the go, added a third: "it's like going out, but not official." I recognized some of the expressions, of course; even a senior citizen of fifty can comprehend eye candy and loaded, poser and flame. Did these innocent, cool teenagers really believe their generation had invented high? But as I stood there in the sun-dappled library, I realized that the majority of the students' words and phrases left me bemused. What on earth was burninate? Was d-low somehow related to "below," "delay," "J Lo"-or to none of those terms? (Not wanting to keep the meanings secret-to d-low them, that is-I'll suggest that you'd burninate something only if you had the fire-breathing powers of a dragon.) More generally, by what learned or instinctive command had these young people enacted their self-assured takeover of the language?
Before the bell freed them from the joy of learning, the students handed in the slips of paper on which they'd scribbled their definitions. I have them still: scraps torn from notepads and workbooks, a page from a disintegrating paperback, a yellow Post-it note with a smiley at the top. Overlaps were surprisingly rare; just one word-noob, meaning somebody new, ignorant or inexperienced-was defined three times.
Looking at the sixty-six words now, I'm struck by the diversity of their origins. A few emerge from the online world of instant messaging: rofl, for instance, which gathers the initial letters of "rolling on the floor laughing." Others are abbreviations: sup, for instance, originally "What's up?" and now a synonym for "Hi, how are you?" Almost anywhere you go, the power of hip-hop seems unavoidable: surely that's how homie (friend) and foshizzle (I agree) migrated from America's inner cities to a small, waspish town in Quebec. Hip-hop and cyberspace together encouraged the spread of phat, which morphed from "sexy" in the 1960s to "cool, great, wonderful" by the '90s, and which is now widely regarded as an acronym for "pretty hot and tempting"-its original meaning, in short. Drug culture is just as influential; blame or credit it for fatty (an oversized joint), gacked (on speed) and pinner (a small joint). It's unfortunate That's so gay has come to mean "That's stupid, not worth my time." But what could be the origins and adolescent meanings of lag and One and die in a fire?
It was humbling to read an impromptu definition of scene, a word I thought I knew, that deployed a word I couldn't quite pin down-"style (knock-off of emo)." Emo? It was even more humbling for me, a writer, someone whose livelihood depends on the rich and exact use of words, to realize how far the English language had slithered away from my grasp, not for reasons of ethnicity or culture but simply because of time. "But at my back I always hear / Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near," wrote the poet Andrew Marvell in the seventeenth century. It's not a chariot any longer; it's a Dreamliner.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that all these expressions are destined to enter the permanent storehouse of English vocabulary. Many of them will be as fleeting as youth itself. Young men and women have always used slang as a weapon to cut their lives free from the nets cast by their elders- didn't I aspire, unsuccessfully, to be a groovy freak? Older people have no reason to try and memorize the throwaway lexicon of the young. But the cascade of teenage slang I faced that afternoon can stand as a symbol of the astonishing rate at which new words are pouring into English. Nobody can control this breakbeat language; nobody can even keep track of it.