Thursday, July 3, 2008

Youth Culture, part 4 of 4: Language

My last three posts have taken a brief look at youth culture. I've mentioned that I see 4 major elements of identity formation when it comes to what constitutes any given culture, all of which apply to youth: (1) Artifacts, (2) Behaviors, (3) Ideas, and now (4) Language.

By the way, if I haven't mentioned it already, I'm indebted to The Rev. Whis Hays for a lot what inspired this material, and particularly the way of categorizing and framing it.

This post, the last in the series, is about the language youth use. As with the other elements of youth culture, there are as many teenage languages as there are teenagers in the world, but there are at least some commonalities here. And because others have done some great work and research on this, this post is link-heavy. Check 'em out!

*The Source 4 Youth Ministry has a great page on teen lingo.

*Media tends to dictate (or at least influence) a lot of what teenagers (and the rest of us) are saying--The Center for Parent and Youth Understanding has a great page here on media.

*The online community (Facebook, Myspace, Instant Messenger) and "online-speak" has really filtered into everyday language. For example, I've heard students (and myself!) jokingly say out loud what was once intended to be an online abbreviation, but it's caught on. Examples: LOL! (Laughing out loud), omg! (Oh my gosh/God!)

*Schools also tend to be a breeding ground for language and its variations. Teens pick up a lot of how they talk from their friends on a day-to-day basis.

*The best way (in my humble opinion) you can find out what language youth speak? You guessed it, befriend and ask a youth! Not rocket science when you look at it that way. Or, if you're really brave, pull up a book and a notebook and pen and cup of coffee at your favorite local coffeeshop, wait for some teenagers to show up, and just listen to how they talk. Not that I'm encouraging eavesdropping.... but some coffeeshop-goers talk loud enough that you can't help but hear their conversations!

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