A few months ago, back when life was warm and sunny, I wrote about my favorite, tongue-tickling words. I love those words because they aren’t used commonly, making them rare vocabulary treats for welcoming ears. The 10-cent words I love have been replaced by a lexicon of abbreviations, acronyms and made-up terms, spearheaded mostly by millennials like myself.
The beauty of language is that it evolves and changes with each generation (excluding dead languages). The way we speak is malleable, directly related to technology, current events and socioeconomic backgrounds. That’s how slang comes to be and I get that. There’s a reason we don’t speak in Old English—heck, there’s a reason I can use three contractions in the same sentence. And while I don’t use “groovy” the way my parents did, I live in fear that my kids and grandkids will adapt terms with no identifiable origin other than sheer laziness. What if by shortening and misspelling our words, we’re shortening the depth of our communication? The meaning of our feelings?
William Shakespeare has been credited with the invention of more than 1,700 words, some more successful than others. Are we all burgeoning bards or inarticulate fools? Let’s take a look:
Bae. It’s the bae-n of my existence. I admit, I do give in to some slang terms here and there (and often out of irony), but I have never gotten on board with bae.* Does it mean babe? If so, what’s so hard about adding one extra letter? Urban legend claims it’s an acronym for “before anyone else,” but that’s a terrible use for an acronym if you spell it out in a sentence: “You’re my before anyone else!” “You don’t understand proper sentence structure, bye.”
I’m no etymologist, but I think we have Pharrell to thank for this tragedy.
*Bae is only acceptable as Bey, an appropriate nickname for Beyoncé.
2. Turnt, lordt, wrekt
For the love of language, please stop misspelling words and replacing -d or -ed with -t. IT DOESN’T EVEN CHANGE THE NUMBER OF SYLLABLES, PEOPLE.
Made popular by drag queens and Nicki Minaj, this enthusiastic alternative to a simple “yes” has the ability to make sober people sound completely wasted. And also stupid. Only cats are allowed to use this term.
I have used “cray,” but I’m not proud of it. My tolerance for this term has sharply declined over the last year or so, made worse by the soccer mom double offender: “cray cray.” A warning that if you use this word in front of me, I will immediately start thinking of crayfish. And I don’t even like shellfish.
5. Additional Idiotic Shorthands
Including, but not limited to: wifey, hubby, preggers, adorbs, totes, deets, dat, tho, perf, amaze (when used in place of amazing), offish (official), and however you spell the abbreviation of usual (yoosj? uge? yuge? Don’t care, I hate it.)
So there you have it. Are you concerned about the future of language? If yes, I challenge you to spread better vocabulary into your conversations, texts and tweets. If not, I challenge you—at the very least—to consider adding the rest of the word to your abbreviation.