I had an interesting conversation with a good friend of mine about slangs and what they’re doing to the English language. It was a heated discussion, she being all for butchering the written and spoken word and it got messy (apple pie forks went flying) but in the end I won. Little did I know that my euphoria would last for all of two days. My teenage niece burst my bubble when I asked her about the absence of full stops in her five sentence long proclamation on Facebook and she told me “LOL it’s the 21st writers need to go with it that means u 2”. As you can imagine, I felt like a decaying crypt keeper on a very hot day.
My opinion that Google is God’s cure for ignorance tends to lead me to places on the Net that even my weird world of dreams cannot possibly conjure. After getting over my shock and pondering what my younger friend and darling niece had said, I decided to do some surfing (cyber only—wet suits and my hips don’t go together). Lo and behold, I found out that my preference for grammatically correct sentences, draconian attention to punctuation and deep respect for the Oxford English Dictionary belong strapped to a wagon on its way to a quarry back in the days of the Roman Empire. Apparently, even Shakespeare paid more attention to slang than I do.
“…the use of slang is frequently ridiculed by culturally-ignorant people who feel it is the product of insufficient education and believe it to be counter-evolutionary; of course, they couldn't be farther from the truth. human language has been in a state of constant reinvention for centuries, and slang has been used and created by poets and writers of all sorts….it is the right and responsibility of the modern human to keep re-evaluating language, to give dead words innovative contemporary meanings or to simply invent new ones, in order to be more appealing and representative to the speaker/listener (which was essentially the basis behind language anyway, to understandably communicate thoughts or ideas verbally).”--UrbanDictionary.com
In other words, if I don’t want to be a member of a dying clan, I need to “pick up my game” or “get my weight up” or “Hustle”. Blurgh. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for shortening words and leaving out my apostrophes on Facebook but aren’t books supposed to live on higher planes? Aren’t we writers supposed to preserve the beauty of literature by making magic come to life with words that don’t necessarily end with ‘ing’? (eg. planking, upcycling, tripping, flipping, hating, dissing and some other words that could get me banned from Blogdome. And then people go around slashing the real -ing words into –in’ words…apparently the sound of -g is taboo on Cool Planet.) So what happened? Wasn’t I the one walking around as a teenager with kidney-damaging jeans, mandatory Dock Martins and drumsticks pocking out of my back pocket? Did I grow up and become my English teacher?
I certainly hope not! It’s true: we need to go with the flow. Teenagers I meet normally love (heart) me and think I’m one “nasty-ass” (cool) adult. And when they say “adult”, I cringe and look behind me to see who they’re talking about. I gag at the mere mention of cauliflower and I think Eminem is one of the most brilliant composers alive. My eight year-old son boasts that his is the only mother who has watched all six episodes of Star Wars. Because of this need to live with one foot bouncing up and down at a David Guetta concert and one in the world of caviar and champagne, I tend to mix things up a little in my novels (Thank God for crossover genres!).
I try very hard to blend in the two worlds (Urban Dictionary vs Cambridge) because I fell off the young adult cliff awhile back but still squeal every time I hear the theme song of Harry Potter. It’s ok to grow up but I’ve learnt that a writer of YA (young adult) fiction needs to stay in focus and know his or her audience. You’re not going to convince General Grievous to buy your light saber unless you can prove that it once belonged to a Jedi!