Talking the Teen Language

I just watched the movie “Juno” (I love this movie, I’ve seen it 5 times now). It makes me smile, cry and laugh every time. And I’m in awe of the screenwriters ability to create dialogue that in it’s ridiculous verbosity, is so witty and relevant. But it got me to thinking about the challenges of an adult who is writing from the perspective of a teen. As a YA fiction writer, I am fully aware of these challenges and have spent many a late night rewriting dialogue, and then rewriting the rewrites.

I remember religiously watching Dawson’s Creek those many years ago, and not caring so much that the characters on that show spoke in a verbiage way beyond their years, or that I had to have my dictionary handy to even understand some of the words they were spewing out. I thought it was great!  And you can’t tell me that the demographic for that show was for the 30 somethings and up. It was on the CW channel for crying out loud.

I am no wordsmith, and my vocabulary is far from highbrow, so I don’t really have to worry about being verbose in my writing. But sometimes I do wonder if  being so far removed from my teen years, if I am still able to capture the essence of that time in my life, without layering in too much of the experience and perspective I’ve gained since then. I like to provide my young characters with a depth and understanding that I didn’t have, or at least I don’t remember having at that age. And in doing that do I stray too much from the perspective a teen?

Then I realize that no one really wants to read about a girl whose only thoughts are about what she looks like, what that one guy in school thinks she looks like, or what everyone else in school thinks she looks like.  Not saying that the majority of thoughts in a teenage mind are trivial or useless. On the contrary, they are complex and moreover extremely important. Because it’s how they deal with those thoughts that develop the qualities and characteristics they will grow into. BUT, I think it is fair to say that, because of lack of real-life experience, a teen is often ill-equipped to always deal with those thoughts in the most rational way. And I think it’s best to use that irrationality in developing the plot or the character rather than as the plot itself. Because in my humble opinion, a story– no matter how fantastical or surreal, whether it’s a love epic or a tale of horror– needs to be rational in the end.

New Words

Isn’t it fabulous to be witness to an ever changing world? I caught this article in TIME.com http://newsfeed.time.com/2010/08/19/chillax-bromance-it-must-be-new-words-in-the-dictionary-day/

Here are some of the latest words to be added to our wonderful language:
chill pill – a notional pill taken to make someone calm down
chillax – calm down and relax
turducken – a roast dish consisting of a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey
bargainous – costing less than is usual or than might be expected; cheap or relatively cheap
staycation – holiday spent in one’s home country
fussbudget – a fussy person
vuvuzela – long horn blown by fans at soccer matches
national treasure– someone/thing regarded as emblematic of a nation’s cultural heritage
buzzkill – a person or thing that has a depressing or dispiriting effect
social media – websites and applications used for social networking
microblogging – the posting of very short entries on a blog
netbook – small light laptop
dictionary attack – an attempt to gain illicit access to a computer system by using a very large set of words to generate potential passwords
paywall – an arrangement whereby access is restricted to users who have paid to subscribe to a website
freemium – a business model, especially on the Internet, whereby basic services are provided free of charge while more advanced features must be paid for
automagically – automatically and in a way that seems ingenious, inexplicable, or magical
carbon capture – and storage the process of trapping and storing carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels
geoengineering – manipulation of environmental processeses in an attempt to counteract the effects of global warming
toxic debt – debt which has a high risk of default
deleveraging – the process or practice of reducing the level of one’s debt by rapidly selling one’s assets
overleveraged – having taken on too much debt
quantitative easing – the introduction of new money into the money supply by a central bank
exit strategy – a pre-planned means of extricating oneself from a situation
overthink – think about (something) too much or for too long
catastrophizing – view or present a situation as considerably worse than it actually is
soft skills – personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people
matchy-matchy – excessively colour-coordinated
LBD – little black dress
frenemy – a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry
cheeseball – lacking taste, style, or originality
cool hunter – a person whose job it is to make observations or predictions about new styles and trends
hikikomori – the abnormal avoidance of social contact, typically by adolescent males (in Japan)
steampunk – a genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advance technology
tweetup – a meeting organized by means of posts on Twitter
bromance – a close but non-sexual relationship between two men
wardrobe malfunction – an instance of a person accidentally exposing an intimate part of their body as a result of an article of clothing slipping out of position
defriend – another term for unfriend (remove someone from a list of friends or contacts on a social networking site)
Interweb – the Internet
hater – negative person
I particularly like matchy-matchy – cuz I use it all the time!