Is it a sign of being old that I find the language used by teenagers today to be painful to the ear? I don't mean bad language, I mean the English language. I work as a substitute teacher. I get to hear a lot of language. The swear words I hear, although often inappropriate and unintelligently used, are the same ones that were in use when I was in school, when my parents were in school and probably when my grandparents were in school. It's the every day words that are driving me nuts.
Using slang to make your point is nothing new. I remember when I was 10 or 11 every car that I thought was cool (a slang term in itself) was 'wicked'. I didn't mean that the particular car in question was 1. Morally bad. 2. Playfully mischievous or 3. Troublesome or unpleasant. Obviously it would have made no sense to refer to a sports car as 'morally bad' or 'playfully mischievous'. Neither of these meanings really conveys the coolness of the car in question. 'Wicked' in my prepubescent slang was meant as a term of desire and admiration.
The slang today just doesn't make much sense. My daughter uses the word 'random' a lot. Not in the 'lacking any definite plan or prearranged order' sense of the word. She uses it in sentences to describe events. She might be describing something that happened at school, perhaps someone got into trouble with the teacher for not having their home work done and she will finish the story by saying 'It was so random.' No. It wasn't. The kid didn't do his homework, so logically, it directly follows that he might get into trouble. There is nothing random about the sequence of events. If the kid had been rewarded with $1000 and someone else placed in a jail cell for the same offence, then yes, I would agree that would be a random event.
Another is 'sweet'. 'I love this section of the road, it is so sweet to drive on.' So the road is covered in sugar? Sweet is a descriptor of a flavour, not of the physical of mental attributes of something or someone. This is like asking someone what their favourite flavour of Popsicle is and having them reply 'purple'. Purple is a colour not a flavour.
Probably my least favourite of the slang today is the word 'pro'. 'That guy (or girl) is so pro.' He's a professional? He's for some cause or event as opposed to being against it? When I was in school if someone was a 'pro' it was because they were out behind the ball field bleachers doing things for money at lunch time. My best guess on this one is that the person in question is good at whatever they are doing. If they are really good at doing that activity they are 'real pro´ and if they are exceptional they are 'miles pro'. Which I guess could apply to the meaning I remember for this word too.
Anyway, if getting older means that I have to become a guardian of the English language and proper usage, than I guess that's o.k. Even knowing that this trend in slang will probably disappear in a few years in favour of something else is somewhat of a panacea. Until that happens though, I guess I should go out and buy some sweet, miles pro earplugs.