Sorry everyone, been a little out of sorts lately. I started to write several journals, but after a few hundred words I was just losing interest. Hopefully, it won't happen with this one.
I actually didn't want to make my next journal about a topic like this one, but it's something I keep seeing and I believe it should be shot down whenever this nonsense raises its head.
Reading an article, written by someone with a B.A. in English, discussing research carried out on a select group of middle/high-school youths' usage of a particular slang term. While the article itself is fairly interesting, a particular tidbit of it forced a weary sigh from me - though that might be because I'm freakin' tired.
I kind of touched on this before, talking about the misuse of the term 'power struggle' when applied to young people, and it's a very pervasive problem. Lerner, whose book I frankly think should be required reading for any parent, to dispel the bullshit myths they likely believe, discusses it quite heavily.
To recap, a large body of what we would call "common knowledge" about teenagers is sheer myth. Anyone spending a few seconds thinking back to their own youth would know that hormones don't turn you into drooling, unstable morons, and that you never once got a particular haircut to shock or upset your parents. That's nonsense.
But it's not just myth & harmless misunderstanding. The prevailing notion is that adolescents are deliberately, and consistently, hostile and antagonistic towards their parents, and that hostility/untrustworthiness is the primary factor in the decisions they make. They're not people, they're weird animals who do things for reasons of spite or reasons beyond logic! No, no, they didn't get that hair-cut or wear those clothes because they like the aesthetic or wanted to copy a cool anime character, no, they are angry and crazy and hormone-addled and hate their parents, and they did it to spite them and assert their independence!
... Yeah, no. That's absurd. Frankly, these assertions were invented out of hole-cloth many years ago, and until recently nobody bothered to challenge their place in the body of common knowledge. Even psychologists believed some of this utter tripe without question.
Not to get into a huge rant about it, but it's not a minor issue. If, at the back of their heads, parents, teachers and so on consider (almost) every act an adolescent commits a product of willful antagonism or challenge, they basically react like assholes. Of course, our perception of why someone does something is going to alter how we react to it. It's a very pervasive and damaging attitude.
Case in point, this article quoted a professor of linguistics stating that the reason kids make up and use slang terms "is to come up with things that their parents and other adults don't understand." I've also heard this as a "reason" for why they type using that incomprehensible jargon most of us have seen on the internet.
Now, do I need to say this? Or can you think back to your own childhood and grasp it without me? What is this nonsense? Oh, so now kids are inventing a code-language to talk about their parents behind their backs! GASP! Those bastards! They're getting more devious by the hour!
Maybe some small groups did at some point in history, but the vast majority of children and teenagers have never consciously adopted a phrase or slang term in order to conduct clandestine conversations their parents can't understand (unless you played around with Pig Latin and stuff as a kid, which we all did, let's face it). Like secret agents, discussing those binge-drinking sex-orgies they always have, or how best to take a hit from a heroin-infused bong while robbing grannies.
It's absurd, and yet that's exactly what they're saying: kids are inventing code languages in order to discuss things behind their parents' backs, yet right under their noses! Gasp!
Some of them may adopt these slang terms and odd speech patterns in order to fit in with their peers, who likely picked them up from adults who absolutely do use slang for code words. But to most kids, that's just how they have to refer to a certain thing when in a certain social setting. It's just a word, no deception was intended or even required.
Truly, it's a weird, suspicious belief. Especially when you consider that most of the "internet slang" out there is either a reference to memes at their most obscure, or simple abbreviation most of the time. It's simply easier for someone who can't type or is none too literate to type like that ("sup man; nmu; chilin lol" = inane stupidity, not code). No child truly expects their parents to not figure out what these things mean, it's obvious - and when these kids (for definitely not all of them type this crap) spew this nonsense onto the internet, they might very well be talking to adults, expecting them to understand it. There's no deliberate deception. In fact, though it's certainly slower and less precise than typing normally, that regurgitated alphabet soup is really easy to understand.
It's not a freakin' code-language. Why the hell would kids invent a god-damn code-language?! They simply won't discuss these things in front of an adult, who could simply demand clarification or get suspicious. They're doing this, and talking this way, to fit in; whether or not the slang terms were originally invented, likely by adults, to be a way of disguising speech, doesn't change the fact that most kids are not adopting them in order to be sneaks.
As I said, I have never, never deliberately adopted phrasing or terms in order to obfuscate my meaning around "adults." However, I can share a little tale.
When I was in junior high (i.e., middle-school to you Americans), there was a place we would sneak off to when we wanted to smoke pot, or just if we wanted to skip a class. So, "Hey man, want to go to the Dome?" also implied the option of going off to get high.
That's about it. It's the best I can come up with. There was an implication, and it was pretty safe to say around the staff, but it wasn't a deliberately adopted code-word or element of a code language. In fact, it's not even slang. It's straight-laced English. "Do you want to go to the place we call [blah-blah]?" We didn't even come up with the name.
Most kids don't have anything they need to keep that secret anyway, what with most of them not touching drugs or committing crimes. It's a very strange idea.
IF there are kids out there doing this, then they are special cases. "Slang" is not, and should not be cast as, deliberate attempts at deception. Every generation has its slang, and even today without any need to hide anything from anybody in my daily speech I still use slang and vernacular terms. Young people are not out there speaking in tongues to plot the downfall of society.
Most of these so called "codes" are useless anyway, and nobody thinks for a second they'll deceive anybody. For instance, I once heard someone claim that "Leetspeak" was children (?!) using code language - yeah, such an effective written code that it uses characters that look almost exactly like the regular characters.
Yeah, guys, I see what you mean. After all, "lol" is some serious cryptography. Don't even get me started on 7h12 SH17, b4By! 1337 h4x0rz5P33k FTW! i <3 narwhals!