This Took Actual Field Research

When I began teaching in the fall of 2002, I was fresh out of college and only 22-years old. In retrospect, I was likely as “cool” or “hip” (or whatever cool or hip word the kids use to describe “cool” or “hip”) as I was ever going to be. Time hasn’t helped my legendary awkwardness; it has only lessened the opportunities for it to be exposed. Regardless, among the few advantages I possessed back then was my relative nearness in age to my students. My first year I was responsible for three classes of sophomores and two classes of freshmen. I more or less understood everything they were saying, even if it was slang. Over a decade later, though, it has become increasingly difficult for me to relate to my students. Their age always stays the same, mine does not. While I suppose I can still understand what it is my students are trying to say, their slang terms are organic to them, not to me. As such, I can never truly appreciate them in the same manner. While I won’t make the bold claim of saying I am an adult, I feel it is acceptable to say that my mindset is no longer that of a male in his early 20s. I suspect this is why some of the language employed by my students puzzles me.

To that end, I have decided to create something of a glossary in this space featuring my research of the student body’s commonly used terms. Bear in mind, not all of the students at my school speak in this fashion. Many do not. There are some who use these terms ironically, which – as you might imagine – delights me. I will define the terms, provide the parts of speech, make mention of their variations, and use them in sentences for the purpose of contextualizing their use. If possible, I will include the word origin. As a bonus, I will list each term’s 1990’s counterpart if applicable.

1. One (article) – a replacement for the articles “a” and “an.” After school I going get one fresh fade.

2. Game (adjective) – willing to participate in a given activity. Who going Haunted Plantation? I’m gameGamebird (noun) – the embodiment of the willingness to participate in a given activity. I betchu Mark going Haunted Plantation, he’s one gamebird90’s equivalent: Down.

3. Unboiz/Unbraddahz (adjective, also as an interjection) – hurtful in a way that erodes the bond established between (male) friends. A) You heard Joe them wen ditch Mike at Sandy’s? That’s unboizB) You went Mitsu-Ken and nevah tell me? UnbraddahzA direct descendant of the word “uncool.” 90’s equivalent: Unz.

4. Cherreh (adjective) – any number of positive conditions. A) Chris get one cherreh ‘dama. B) Sandy’s was cherrehC) How’s dis pikchah? Pretty cherreh, ah?” D) I feel all cherreh! Synonym: Prime. Antonym: Not-too-cherreh.

5. Rando (noun) – A pseudonym for a person who is unable to endure a given situation. Reid no like liff wit us cuz he’s one randoVariations: Randall, Randall-Cannot-Handle, Rando-No-Can-Hando.

6. T(h)ick (adjective) – muscular. Nobody messes wit Jim cuz he’s too tickPronunciation Note: Tick features the local silent “H.” For example: the silent “H” is also conspicuous by its absence in the numerical time designation of 3:30, which is pronounced “tree-tirty.” 90’s equivalent: Buff.

7. Ho (interjection) – any number of greetings including – but not limited to – “hey,” “hello,” “what’s up,” “wazzap,” “‘sup,” and “ope” , intended to gain the attention of an often – but not necessarily – nearby person. Tonally, Ho often connotes awe or surprise, whether sincere or sarcastic. A) Ho, Mistah, how come we get one tess on Friday? B) Ho, not da Rando-action, ah? A possible descendant of the word “Whoa.”

8. Yeah You/Yes You (interjection) – a statement meant to draw attention to or celebrate a given occurrence, but oddly not to address a person. *receives test marked with A* Yeah youContextual Note: Yeah you/Yes you can be used as a direct address, but only if a proper name follows the phrase. Yes you, Phil!


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