A vocab you won't find on the SAT
Wordification isnt a word, but it should be. If we truly live in a democracy based on freedom, people should have the power to add widely used words to the dictionary.
Actually, thats what happened with OMG and the Oxford English Dictionary. LOL, right? (LOL also made the dictionary. OMG, what is up with the people compiling that dictionary?) Its the First Amendment at its very best, or should I say, being a beast.
The question is: Why? What drives the radical, hipster, unshaven, socialist youth of society to constantly invent new words or meanings? Is it because we have such a bad memory we simply forget that similar words already exist?
Perhaps its that adults are not cool. Aside from TV show characters, Mark Zuckerberg and John Boehner, adults arent partying, reckless teenage role models. As such, teens want to make sure adults have no idea whats being said.
Thus, constantly changing the language is the easiest way to do this. Sure, you might know what hip means, but if your kid tells you that one of his friends is pretty sick, do you actually believe the friend has the flu? If so, teens, its working. Keep it up. After all, few adults have any idea what I mean if I were to say that my swag is slightly less sick than that of a tomato. Sure, part of that comes from the fact that even if you get the slang, that sentence doesnt really make sense. But you didnt get the slang, did you?
You might think that Id be betraying my fellow teens if I revealed our favorite slang. That is probably true. Since Ive got a column to write, though, whats a little betrayal amongst peers? It hasnt hurt politicians their popularity ratings are persistently high. Or, at least, higher than my English grade.
Speaking of English, our English teachers ought to be proud of us, because if weve learned anything, its that word choice is important. You can say cool once or twice, but if you keep repeating it, you begin to sound as repetitive as the Beatles Why Dont We Do it in the Road. (It has 18 lines, 15 of which consist solely of the title. This is made even funnier, of course, if you have an adolescent males mind. At least, thats what I was told; as a male teenager, I dont have any mind at all).
And, since teenagers are such mentally advanced humans, about (this is an estimate) 160 percent of what teen boys say expresses that something is or isnt cool. This means that weve come up with many intelligent synonyms for cool. As an added bonus, we discovered that adults because of their underdeveloped brains couldnt understand our new lexicon.
Thus, as if overnight, words such as chill, sick, sweet, smooth, beast, wet, ill, tight, fresh, kickin, boss and swag all became synonymous with cool. And, as if overnight, half of those words were instantly rejected for sounding too ridiculous.
Thankfully, the surviving slang is still unusual enough to baffle adults. If you say, Dude, that was so fresh its tighter than sick, within earshot of any adults their ears will melt. Tell any adult that you gots swag and theyll assume youre carrying around some free branded T-shirts of your corporation of choice.
The easiest part of wordification the part most adults have forgotten is that there is no logic behind it. The only discernable pattern is that each new word must stand in for something that is taboo, almost taboo, or just at the edge of being almost taboo. Really, isnt that what the most basic example, cool, is? What with global warming, its pretty taboo to be cold.
I suggest we take advantage of this fact, and start creating slang at a much faster pace. You drive a nice car? Avocado, man. You just aced that test? Dude, thats mahogany. See? You barely have to think about it, which is pretty rhododendron, if you get my drift.
Upon reflection, its unlikely we create words to confuse adults; adults are confused enough by things like dubstep. Rather, wordification probably arises from teens love of pushing boundaries, whether they are linguistic, fashion or driving test traffic cones.
Theoretically, in pushing boundaries, we create unique identities. In reality, however, we sometimes try so hard to be ill that we are no longer sick and simply become another tool. (If you cant speak teen, that last sentence meant: Dont stand out just to stand out because in doing so you dont stand out. Understand?)
Joel Kwartler is a senior at Lake Oswego High School. He writes a monthly column for the Lake Oswego Review. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.Add a comment