Monday, August 29, 2011

Understanding & Speaking Teenglish.

They say the best way to learn a language is by having full immersion into the culture of the people who speak it, so given that my life rotates around half a dozen teenagers, it hasn’t been too difficult to start picking up the lingo.  It’s a mixture between English phrases as I once knew them, only now they have a completely different interpretation to what I once understood, along with some new vocabulary. Of course, how you interpret it is also connected to the vitriol, whine, mutter or whisper with which the language is uttered.
So I’ve learnt that "I’m bored" really means "I need your help, I don’t have the confidence to do the things that would inspire me so now I don’t know what to do with myself". Of course, if you answer in English, it will not be understood, so if you have to answer in Teenglish by thinking of what you would like to suggest and then rewording it to make it understood. So let’s take another example such as "I hate you" which in fact means "I need you to tell me you love me”, you would think of the answer (for example: how could you say such a hurtful thing after all I do for you, you ungrateful little so and so?) Then you translate it back into Teenglish which will give you something like: “you might hate me, but come over here and give me a hug because I still love you, you brat.” Things like ‘I hate school" mean ''Something happened at school. Ask me what happened" and “I can do whatever I want" means "I feel helpless and out of control". Teenglish sounds so much like my native tongue, English, that at times if I were to take it as that it would well and truly push my buttons into believing that the correct response would be a clip across the ear. But no, I’ll probably be a native speaker by the time they’ve left home, reverted to English, had babies and start suggesting  I learn Babglish.
Anything described as ‘gay’ has nothing to do with either homosexuality or homophobia, it’s just gay. Expect it, and most sentences to have the word ‘like’ pronounced ‘laak’ at the end of it. So something that’s ‘a bit gay laak’, is probably something old fashioned, respectable, uncool or all three.
“You never give me what I want" means "I need something from you and it is hard for me to convince you". Of course don’t take the word ‘you’ as meaning you, it in fact means that the teenager who is speaking is having a sudden hormone rush go through them so that the word ‘you’ means any thing or person outside themselves that is within pointing or shouting range. "No one loves me in this family" is the cue for "I am looking for some attention" while “I am going to run away" means "I am afraid of ever leaving this place, I’m stuck."
At times your teenager will speak to you in human language too, but listen to them converse with their peers and you may hear things like ‘yo sup homie?’ which means ‘how are you, my friend?’ or ‘you got mad skizzils’, meaning that they find the person in question to be very talented, while I recently discovered that ‘the lights are on’ means there is a parent within earshot.
"You don't care about me" means "I need you to tell me you care about me", but sometimes it just means “I know how to rile you and I have a few other things that will get you going if this one doesn’t work.” "All the other kids get to go and I don't" means "One kid is getting to go and I’m chancing my arm that I’ll be allowed go too".  In this case I advise asking for a list of ‘all’ the kids so that you can confirm with their parents (in English) that this is the case. It may then change to “Well my friend is allowed go, and if I get to go so will so and so.”
 "I don't have to listen to you" means "I wish I didn’t need to listen to you" and "You are cruel" means "Tell me you love me" (Although in my case it can be the exact same meaning as the English version, and not without good reason). "You never let me do anything I want" is Teenglish for "I wish I was already an adult and I’m going to take it out on you that I’m not".
And everything is fly. Not fly as in the pesky little insects; rather, it describes the cool, normally preceded by ‘pretty’. So if you are pretty fly, it’s the new cool. (And I thought cool was a cool word, but apparently not). Wicked has nothing to do with witches, wicked is brilliant. Abbreviations have turned into words, so it’s OMG and LOL laak…
When all the pretty fly friends have exited the house, your teen will revert to full sentences such as  "I don't need you", said in a huffy voice and translated as "I need you so much I feel helpless". "I wish you would die" means "Get out of my way, I can’t see the telly”. I suggest you do get out of the way of the telly in this case.  "Life sucks" means "I need your help in finding meaning in life" and “It is all your fault" means "I feel guilty" But remember that feeling guilty is part of the human condition and demonstrates that your child has almost become an adult. This the part where I find myself speaking Teenglish believing deep down that whatever is wrong really is my fault, and who cares if the damn teen feels guilty for belonging to the planet, because most of the time, so do I.

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