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D Sealey Presentation, Assnt 3, Language, Discourse and Power


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Debbie Sealey, Language, Discourse and Power Presentation, Assignment 3 2009

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D Sealey Presentation, Assnt 3, Language, Discourse and Power

  1. 1. Language, Discourse and Power Assignment 3 <ul><ul><li>Online Slide Presentation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>by </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Debbie Sealey </li></ul></ul>
  2. 2. Youth As Agents and Adopters of Language Change <ul><li>Y outh today are evolving faster than ever before in the history of man. They have been born into a world of rapidly-developing technology and global communication, and the English language is changing alongside them. I chose to explore this phenomenon as the topic for my online slideshow, where I will illustrate the ongoing neology produced by contemporary youth . </li></ul>
  3. 3. Neologisms (dictionary definition) - recently coined words or phrases, or recently extended meanings of existing words or phrases. <ul><li>S uch is the extent of the use of neology by youth today that there is now an online dictionary available - </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Aaron Peckham, the founder of, said his website is really just about &quot;helping people understand each other better.&quot;,where words both &quot;fularious&quot; and &quot;ridonkulous&quot; are explained, draws 15.5 million unique visitors a month. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Peckham and a group of volunteers sort through about 1,000 submissions a day and discard about 50 per cent of them.” (Ryan, D. 2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>T hat means that 500 new entries are accepted for recording in the Urban Dictionary every day. An extremely high rate by anyone’s measure! </li></ul>
  4. 4. I t is significant in todays youth culture that neologisms are particularly embedded by 'tech talk' – lexicology which includes and reflects the rapidity and complexity of technology and its advances. Todays teens have grown up with computers in their classrooms and cellphones in their hands, and have thus attained a vocabulary that is far wider than ever seen before in young generations. Another significance is the ability of these neologisms to spread globally at a pace that is almost immediate and unparalleled previously. New words uploaded onto the world wide web are instantly accessible to all with access to the internet, extending the English language on such a rapid basis that it has literally become organic - taking on the appearance of a constantly growing organism. (Aaron) Peckham, 28, started as a lark when he was a college student in 1999.He recently left his job as a Google software engineer to run his website full time. Eighty per cent of's users are under 25. The other 20 per cent, Peckham figures, includes parents trying to decode what their kids are saying, texting and coining. Staying current isn't easy simply because language among the under-20 set morphs so rapidly. Ryan, D. (2009)
  5. 5. N eologism Examples W ords - Mascary - when a person wears a scary amount of mascara Nonversation - a completely worthless or meaningless conversation Sapiosexual – one who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature. P hrases - What evs - meaning ‘whatever’ Brevvie - meaning ‘abbreviation’ Ave - meaning ‘average’ A cronyms/Initialisms Rofl - ‘rolling on the floor laughing my a… off’ Lol - ‘laugh out loud’ Lqtm - ‘laughing quietly to myself’
  6. 6. O ther Ways of Self-expressing Used by Contemporary Youth ‘ An’ I dunno what to say ‘ cos it’s been a bitchin’ day An’ I gotta find my way…’ * G raffiti (having you own ‘tag’) * R hyme Speak (as heard in rap music) * A ccent Change (for example, imitating American English) * G rammar Rearrangement (‘… and I was like, duh ,like, whatever!’) * R apid S peech (many parents are unable to keep up with the speed of the conversation) * T ext S peak (abbreviations, excluding vowels in spelling, etc) * P ig L atin (rearrangement of words, for example ‘amscray!’ meaning ‘scram!’)
  7. 7. Reasons for Neologisms - I dentifying with others (in-groups) W ordplay - creativity E xclusion – keeping the 'oldies' or 'uncool' out (gatekeeping) S ecrecy in conversations (privacy) R ebellion (resistance) S ocial Capital – ('The power to impose reception' – Bourdieu. (1997, p. 648))
  8. 8. Adults Speaking 'Teenspeak' Pamela Munro, a linguist and editor of UCLA Slang 6, defines slang as &quot;language whose use serves to mark the user as belonging to some distinct group within society.&quot; In other words, when your kid is slangin,' he's really saying he is different than you - and he likes it that way. &quot;Slang is a kind of code or password if people are trying to show that they are a member of your group,&quot; said Munro. For teens, speaking slang like getting the key to the kingdom Ryan, D. (2009)
  9. 9. What do the Young Ones Think? I had a talk about this with my 18-year-old daughter. When asked for her opinion on adults using 'teenspeak' or contemporary slang she said – 'they just make themselves look like idiots. They're not young. They try too hard. They should just talk how they talk – not try to talk like somebody else.'
  10. 10. A 19-Year-Old's Opinion: Martha Robinson: Teenspeak is not for adults 'Rather, the special brand of comedy gold produced when someone old enough to know better tries to be &quot;down with the kids&quot; is so patronising that it is likely to alienate teenagers further from their elders. Interactions between &quot;adults&quot; and &quot;teenagers&quot; should be stimulating and natural conversations between people – not a desperate attempt to translate adult ideas into something relevant with the help of some choice gobbledygook. Parents and teachers don't need to understand teenage slang, because they don't need to use it. Anyone who can speak &quot;teenglish&quot; can also speak &quot;English&quot; and, if I may be so bold as to make a suggestion, their conversations with adults should take place in &quot;grown-up&quot; language – adultese, to coin one ridiculous word to fight another.'
  11. 11. Parents Embarrassing Teenagers True: I love my parents to death. False: My parents never do anything that embarrasses me. It is a fear that plagues most teenagers: embarrassing parents, specifically in public or around friends. Sometimes it is difficult to get mad at my parents because I know that they only have good intentions in mind when they do things to try and be cool, like using slang. I know that they are trying to be hip but a highly awkward situation cannot be avoided when your 50-something year old parent asks one of your friends if they are going to “bounce” soon or if they will stay for dinner. Nasser, J. (2008)
  12. 12. And so, the conclusion of my research on adults attempting 'teenspeak' and teens' views on them doing so is - Parents, Do Not Try This at Home!
  13. 13. Conclusion: Teens use and create neologisms for a variety of reasons – gatekeeping, exclusion of adults, to create, keep in with or keep up with in-groups, privacy in conversation, and as a form of creativity, amongst other reasons. It is quite clear that they consider adults to look foolish if they try using 'teenspeak', and adults are not going to gain any respect from teens by doing so. They are expected to act and speak like adults, stay within their own in-groups. This may be seen as 'otherization', particularly towards adults, but it would appear that it does no lasting harm and as the teens get older their needs and attitudes change. Before they know it, they too will be adults and parents and perhaps rushing to to understand the next generation of young ones.
  14. 14. References Nasser, J. (2008) Be Kind Rewind Retrieved 5 September 2009 from Robinson, M. (2008) Teenspeak Is Not For Adults Retrieved 5 September from Ryan, D. (2009) Teen Slang - The Language of Keeping Adults Out Vancouver Sun; Canwest News Service Retrieved 5 September 2009 from