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# Mind your language

Posted by on January 14, 2014

Mind your language


Haven’t written a word in days. This can only mean that either my mind is a clutter of thoughts or we are on ground zero mentally and the brain cells are on a strike.

In any event, the fact that I have not been writing is a matter that has caused me some amount of concern. My older child hears me mumble something about how I will forget to write if I do not keep up with it and says, “What an odd thing to say, mamma. Do you ever forget how to eat food or how to walk? Isn’t writing like that too? Once you know it, you just know it!”

This is not true. Once you stop writing, your thoughts stop being coherent and words become elusive. Not that that should be a problem in the times we live in. If anything, this should work to my advantage in connecting with GenNext, that is assuming I wish to connect with them at all. But for those of you who are eager to bridge the gap between yourself and the incessantly Whataspping, Instagramming peeps of our times, you need to brush up on your lingo. This is not very hard to do as long as you can bring yourself to using words like cray cray (crazy crazy), totes (totally), amazog  (amazing, I assume) and you easily feel stoked (euphoric) about stuff. “Are you stoked about a totally cray cray Christmas?” This was one of the bizarre lines that I got off the net when I was doing some research online to enrich my vocabulary with these new words.

Since the lines between real language and Internet language are already blurring, who am I to stand in judgment of those who are twerking (yeah, that too) all over the English language with gay abandon.

Although my children are still too young to talk this talk, the one word that even my ten-year-old has picked up and is using generously, much to my annoyance, is #epic.

If you can find a whole bunch of things around you #epic, you would have proven that you are younger than you look. Everything is epic lately. Epic cheescake, epic car, epic game, epic cocktail, epic haircut …just so you have an idea.

Walk around a college campus for a bit and you will learn to find the world around you epic too. When something is not epic then it is #sick. You heard that right, when something is amazing beyond words, the expression used by this articulate generation is “It’s sick.” The match was sick. Jay Z’s new video is sick. Beyonce’s new song is sick.

However, if in spite of learning these words, you fail to use a hashtag (#) when you actually write in the language previously known as English, punctuations and upper lower case in place (*loser*), you should know that you are Epic Fail at tapping into your inner fool youth. When you use hashtag (#), you are excused from using space, punctuation marks. #lovetoeatwildstrawberries or #hangingwithmybestie or #someonepleasegivemevalium

The other word I want to give you is #ridonkulous. This is a word that will work better than an anti wrinkle/filler cream in convincing people that you are young. It means ‘ridiculous to another level’. Of course, you might sound ridiculous to another level when you use ridonkulous, but only to the ‘has beens’ born in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

Chances are that if, unlike me, you are gainfully employed or actually have a life, you would not have come across these bizarre, mentally stunting slang words. If you do not go to cafes, read/rant on Twitter or have only geriatrics on your Facebook friends list, you will be spared having to read these words, in your present lifetime at least.

You are also unlikely to have the good fortune of hearing someone tell you that they heart you. If you really must know, “I heart you” means that the person loves you but is not ready to say it yet. I am wondering how I would react if someone said “I heart you” to me. Would I wince or would I blush a scarlet hue? I think mostly, I will be just embarrassed that a person whose vocabulary includes a repertoire of tots cray cray (totally crazy crazy) slang found me worthy of his “heart”.

But as they say, when you can’t beat them, join them. Ignoring the fact that Wren and Martin (no GenNext, it is not the name of a deli in South Kensington, or the choreographer duo from Bandra) might be spinning in their graves, my friend Sangeeta and I decided to be our usual avant-garde selves by committing these words to memory and starting our year by using them without hesitation.

I used to shudder, cringe and generally go into an epileptic spasm each time I read or heard this ‘new and improved English’ myself, but since Sangeeta, we brought in the New Year by hashtagging our conversations liberally and generally sounding #mentally deranged.

I would elaborate more on the range of my linguistic skills if I did not have to rush and take a #selfie of myself. Now if you will excuse me, I need to get to work.

Oh and here is a link to Justin Timberlake doing a spoof on the hashtag culture in this conversation with Jimmy Falon. Do watch it.

6 Responses to # Mind your language

  1. Manasi Joshi Roy

    “Epic” blog Shunali 🙂 I heart this blog !!!

  2. Saurabh

    Superb(and hillarious) observation abt the new ways to converse…earlier I used to think most of these new words r used so dat the total characters r less and they fit in to the limits(fr SMSes and also Twitter) like YOLO(you live only once) but these days ppl use same characters but still diff letters…like “buzi” instead of “busy”

    I guess most of the “new” words r typed by mistake and then ppl take a fancy to these #epicwords…and since I too am technically challenged I searching(or rather googling) “xyz urbandictionary” wenevr I get a new word as I try to keep up wid the new generation by chatting a lot on FB(parents hv declared me addicted)…Also, coz u rightly said in the beginning dat if u dont do it, you forget it…in any case, pen(which has been replaced by keyboard) has always been compared to sword…so writing also will start rotting just like unused sword starts rusting…

  3. Kiran Manral

    This is #Epic and I heart you

  4. Dimple

    Ridonkculously funny! Laughed my donkeybooty off! I heart ya!

  5. Penny Aunty

    Wow! This brought me back to high school English class where we had to find examples on ‘Semantics’ and in those days I could not understand what the teacher was talking about as I thought everyone spoke slang (1965) and never knew or wanted to know where our expressions and phrases derived from because in those days we did not watch much TV (colour was introduced in 1975 in Australia so everything we watched was black and white) and there were only a few channels with old films or series which were either British or American such as soaps like Coronation Street (still showing even today), Disneyland, The Outer Limits, western series, Get Smart, Ed Sullivan Show but my favourites were the Aussie films and series such as Whiplash and nothing could compare to a good old Australian thriller in those days.

    I enjoy the English used in the Hindi films for subtitles as I can read better vocabulary and spelling than the ones the British use on the news when they are translating foreign films or news which make the Greeks laugh as they probably are better spellers than the British themselves when they come here to work or study because education is more difficult with more subjects and books to read than in the U.K. But this does not mean the Greeks of today do not use the common #internet language which seems to be spreading with no boundaries in borders, gender, religion or languages because they actually have a virtual relationship across the globe and it is amazing to see my 30 year old son playing X box football with a young girl he does not know in Greece and getting beaten by her or fighting with his comrades as a group of soldiers in ‘Call of Duty’ who are literally all across the globe, and has a big headset and microphone where they start shouting at each other about their movements like they are fighting for dear life and I truly do not wish to know if they can communicate between themselves from the swearing he uses which is contrary to his everyday life as a respectful and pleasant lad that our priest calls an angel! The computer game probably helps him grow horns!!!

    Being on Twitter helped me realise that my days as a telex user was a help as I know how to shorten my words and as a stenographer made me realise how I can mainly use the consonants and hopefully this does not make me a bad speller at work in the office as it is easy to get into a bad habit especially using bad grammar due to the limited letters allowed on Twitter.

    With time I have learned everything is about conditioning the general public whether for political, educational or marketing purposes so even the extraordinary seems ordinary such as someone using foul language on the street, a shooting or alas a girl being raped. Here in the U.K. I was shocked to see more people were interested in the birth of a royal baby than a child abused.

    I am glad at least your writing brings me back to sanity as I was on the verge to think something was wrong with me with the way I speak as people in the U.K. say I speak differently because I am an Aussie and my brothers in Australia saying I speak like a British??? My favourite was on the phone when someone asked me if I was in India!!!!!

    Penny Aunty

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