I am dated by my vocabulary. All my favorites – fab, peachy, awesome, cool, hip, the bomb, diggin’ it, right on, etc. are things you hear in old TV shows and movies. I was thinking that it might be time to update my vocabulary, but then I heard one of the local radio stations use the reference “classic rock” and it made me think that all I needed to do was re-label my vocabulary as “classic Carol”.

Sure, “classic” is a euphemism for old, but it also denotes an enduring value. I like the notion of older things, be they vocabulary or items or people, being referred to as “classics”. It gives a sense that being new, bright and shiny does not necessarily trump that which is older, a tad faded and a bit dull. There is value in the “classics”. They are comfortable, tried and true and hold memories.

It is interesting the words and phrases that catch on. When I was in high school I remember using the phrase “pompous quadrate” to denote stuck-up squares. I also remember the statement, “Your epidermis is showing.” Yes, sad I know; but, in those days I took a bit of glee in saying such things (in truth, I try and use the epidermis line at least once in every one of my children’s formative years). These days, I stick with the words and phrases that provide emotional resonance and it just so happens that they are often from decades past.

I do try and stay on top of new lingo and insert it where possible. I learn things from TV, my kids, my colleagues and my students. From Grey’s Anatomy I picked up “seriously” and the “mc” effect. Seriously, one of my favorite words is “mc-nasty”. It has become particularly valuable in discussing germ-laden areas. An example, “The stair handrails in Minard Hall are seriously mc-nasty.” From So You Think You Can Dance I picked up “hot mess”. This term replaced one I learned from my former grad assistant Jeanine years ago – “FUBAR” – which is an acronym for fudged up beyond all recognition (and yes, one of the words has been slightly changed to protect the innocent reader).

The terms I learn from my kids are usually limited time only sayings. Cheyenne’s favorite words presently are “creepy” and “annoying” (typically a single person or thing is only one or the other – to date, no one has been annoyingly creepy or creepily annoying). Next month it will be something new and I will be looked at like a prehistoric dinosaur if I utter either word in a sentence.

My colleague Biga taught me “dude” and the diversity of its use. For a good month straight my response to everyone and everything was “dude” with the appropriate level of emphasis – be it disdain, questioning, glee or merely a greeting. Thank goodness that term has slowly faded into my vocabulary background (although I will confess that when I am around Biga I still use it frequently – I have come to consider it my Biga-speak).

From my students I learned that text acronyms could be verbalized. That accounts for two of my favorite newer exclamations – OMG and WTF. Breanna (a.k.a. – B), formerly an undergrad and now one of our grad students, taught me a series of terms and phrases. To her I attribute my acquisition of “oh…snap”, “sweet”, and the newest – “word” (a generically used term that is used for emphasis by itself or to conclude a thought). B is also the one who taught me that referring to oneself as a “tool” is not a good thing (but that is a story for another day).

I often wonder who starts these word fads and whether the original person who started the fad recognizes that it began with them. I am thinking that it may be possible to re-thread my “classic Carol” phrases through society and make them new and fresh again. Such is the case with fashion, music and other items so why not with conversational terms and phrases?

Wouldn’t it be fab if everyone when asked how they were doing would say “peachy”?  Dude, it would be the bomb! Seriously, I’d be diggin’ it. Or as B would say – word.

Day eighty-three of the new forty – obla di obla da


3 Responses

  1. PrairieWoman

    You’re funny. Makes me think about all the conversations that I have with my kids and their friends. It’s like three different dictionaries are necessary….

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