So … (my rant of the week)

31 May

So …

My rant of the week.

By L. Stewart Marsden

I had a conversation with my middle-aged daughter the other day. She’s not middle-aged as in her forties or fifties. She is the middle of three daughters. Almost the middle of five, but not. She’s a teen, mere days away from “qualifying” to drive by reaching her sixteenth birthday.

I argued that vocabulary these days has become quite complex. In fact, that groups of people consciously use words and phrases to delineate and segregate themselves from others.

Some of the words and phrases my daughter uses require my asking “What did you mean by that?”

Okay, it’s true when I was in high school there were words and phrases probably alien to my parents and their generation. But they were pretty hokey — CoolPadMan. And more I guess. Pretty lame stuff compared with today’s hot word meanings and phrases.

But I digress.

Ever hear of the language abbee-dabbee? Like Pig Latin, it is a simple insertion of ab after each consonant of a word and the remaining letters. So if I want to say, “Have a nice day,” I’d say

“Hab-av-ab-e  ab-a  nab-ice dab-ay.”

Those practiced at it can rattle on and on in the midst of others — even say some fairly nasty things about people right there — and not be understood.

My daughters and Ex do this. They may as well break out into French or German as far as my ability to understand them when they do.

It’s a bit more than irksome. It separates me from those who are “in the know,” and becomes a way to segregate the ins from the outs. 

Today the practice is used by many. Some of the words and phrases are the fault of technology and social networking. My kids use abbreviations like LMAO in their speech. I’m always running to catch up on the trends so I’m not taken unawares, but it’s a losing battle.

Then there are the irksome practices.

So when did “so” become the must-use first word of each sentence?

It’s very much like the old Valley Girl speak. It isn’t a big thing. I take that back. It is a big thing. To me. It’s why I wrote this little comment.

I’m going to don my parental persona right now (some of you will understand that small bit of information … I’m hoping at least the parents will) —

Just like how you dress, how you talk speaks to others about the kind of person you are. If you are conscious about correct word usage and grammar, it says to others, “I am a well-versed and educated person to whom you should pay attention and heed what is said.” Or not, if you choose to embrace poor grammar and use words incorrectly. I’ll let you decide what the “or not” conjures up.

While street speak and techno-babble and social media syntax separate the user from others, the usage identifies the user with groups that are maybe not so admirable.

Meanwhile, correct word usage and grammar also separate the user from others. It identifies you with a group of people who has an entirely different image. Educated. Intelligent. Able. Promising. Motivated. These and other descriptors come to mind. This group seems to be on the wane. It’s getting smaller and smaller and is less prevalent and even less approved.

It doesn’t mean you can’t slip into other forms of communication. Of course you can. When it benefits you and your audience. When you are trying to be heard and understood. Or, conversely, when you want to alienate yourself from those close about. There’s even a place for abbe-dabbe. But the overriding hope of this writer is that some of you reading this, who practice the undisciplined way of communicating, will reconsider putting effort into learning and using a higher level of speech. Remember what your mother and father probably said more than once — just because you could doesn’t mean you should. 

So, I’m just sayin’ …

As much as these trendy ways of communicating help you to blend in, don’t forget to nurture and develop correct word usage and grammar as well that might help you stand out — in a good way.

The trendy stuff will eventually go away. I hope.

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 31 May, 2015
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2 Responses to “So … (my rant of the week)”

  1. Sharmishtha June 3, 2015 at 2:11 am #

    ha! generation gap! these days so many words are picked up from internet!

  2. RoSy June 15, 2015 at 10:50 pm #

    Abbee-dabbee is new to me. If my son (just turned 18) ever used it – it was never around me. Or – I would have probably questioned it too. My grammar isn’t always proper. But – c’mon!

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