Oh what a fuss the 'quality' papers seem to be making this week about the 'awful' language teenagers speak - how employers won't employ them because they can barely speak and have such a limited vocabulary. What's new?
Teenagers have always behaved in such a way that it is easy to assume they have a limited vocabulary. Alright, so some of them do - and the same applies to some adults too. When I was teaching I remember hearing that you only needed a reading age of eight years in order to read some of the tabloid newspapers. There will always be a section of the community that chooses to use only a limited vocabulary - the same section of the community I guess that has few or no books in the house. Well that is their choice.
But as for teen-language, isn't that one way of disassociating oneself from one's parents way of life? Hasn't it always been so - surely that is an essential part of growing up, stretching one's wings and leaving the nest? And it is also a way of being part of another group, speaking a different language and ganging up against adults. In my view long may it continue.
I tried thinking back to my teenage years - goodness what a long way back that is - to try and remember the words I used. I could only think of one instance and thinking of it made me smile. It was fashionable amongst the young to use the expression "I'll do you!" Oh how my mother hated that with its slightly suggestively sexual undertone. I used it regularly and rarely if ever without being castigated by my parents for doing so. How tame it now seems by today's standards.
Of course, it is also a class issue, isn't it? Only the quality papers seem to be making a fuss about it. And there is no doubt a 'class of teenager' who refuses to use such words as innit, but I doubt that they escape completely from teen-language.
Shakespeare is littered with 'yoiks' abd 'begad' and suchlike - the teen-language of the day???
I do remember my son as a teenager getting a particular word and using it whenever he could - the word 'banal' springs to mind; everything he saw was banal - in particular I remember the lovely fairy lights strung round the green outside his school at Christmas - if he called them banal once he used the word a dozen times in the same context. Ah what it is to be young.
We are never going to change things in that area any more than we are going to be able to get every child turning into an avid reader and user of language. And one thing is for sure - the more we complain about it, the more they will do it to aggravate us - isn't that what it is all about? Like dyeing ones hair red, or green or whatever it is surely a statement saying, "Look at me. I am an adult. I can do what I like and say what I like!" (that is until there is a crisis of some sort when the average teenager reverts to pre-bolshie days and asks for a bit of help).
Can you remember words you used and ways you used to nettle your parents? I do hope so.