The esteemed editor of your favourite parenting mag advised me this issue’s theme would revolve around change.
Coincidentally, that is one of my favourite topics since, as your humble parent looking back, I am regularly mesmerized at the type and scale of it.
(That is until, like my contemporaries, I forget what mesmerized me in the first place. Then I just shrug till the next hyped new thing shows up).
But today, I’m going to toss out just one: the change in daily kid language I hear and read, and especially how it has morphed between generations.
As a community college teacher, I now routinely hear my students, say “I feel like” in place of “I think that …” And say “love you,” instead of “see you later.”
They seem inclined to turn the everyday tasks into monumental moments capable of delivering life change.
For example, a 20-year-old may say, “I’m excited for supper tonight,” instead of what I would say at that age, which was likely nothing, “Oh gawd, not that again” or in my most polite mode, “I’m looking forward to supper tonight.”
Here’s a direct quote from a student openly wondering about the state of a tool he needs for class the next day: “I feel like something is wrong with my camera flash.”
Now let’s put aside what our Grade 10 English teachers would say about the iffy grammar for a moment, and parse it in context. How does anyone “feel” a deficiency?
A more accurate summation when I was 20 would be, “I think something is wrong with my camera flash.” Feelings really had little to do with the thought.
I posed this difference to my 28-year-old daughter, a millennial in the communications industry who can decode the language of her generation like a ninja linguist. Or a linguistic ninja.
“It’s because we were encouraged to talk about our feelings,” she felt, uh, said.
I worked hard to recall ever having either daughter do that. And in fact, on their most verbose days brought on by sugar, friend drama, or school-day wardrobe indecision, fled from it like any tranquility-seeking dad would.
But given what I know about my own childhood, when we were encouraged to grunt only when grunted to, it seems as likely as any other theory.
Point is, superlatives now seem permanently locked into the vernacular of every day speech.
That’s not the end of the planet, or even the King’s English.
Language changes. Words and meanings are co-opted and altered by generations regularly. “Gay,” “joint” and “sick” had different meanings 50 years ago, so on it goes. The world turns and even Pokémon seems to find a new way to amuse the young.
But the elevation of superlatives pushes conversation into a new orbit. And so, it has my imagination working overtime on what conversation between today’s newborns will be like in 20 years.
Scene: Guy and girl meeting at Cafe Perfexion for breakfast:
Him: “Amazing morning.”
Her: “Amazing morning.”
Him: “I feel like you lost your mind during that demolishing text last night.”
Her: “I feel like you completely dissed my mom’s awesome recipe for her amazing apple crisp recipe.”
Him: “Oh I’m so humongously sorry about that. I feel like your awesome mom felt like she didn’t think amazingly of me.”
Add double exclamation marks in place of each of the periods above, and you have an idea of what the messaging version of the exchange would be!!
Now I’m not losing sleep over this, but as someone who has made a living with words for all of his working career, I wonder how the theoretical couple above will contend with their own offspring’s lingo.
Super-superlatives haven’t been invented yet, such as “awesomazing,” but never underestimate the fertile vocabulary of humans to annoy and confuse the ones who came before them.
At least, that’s what I feel. Thanks for reading and have an increbulous day!!