Last weekend I watched a movie taking place in the hills of Virginia during the 1930’s and I swear to you those moonshine slinging hill-billies had better vocabularies than seventy percent of my contemporaries. I realize it was a movie and therefore not reality, but still, it got me to thinking about how lazy speech has become and how slang forever changed the way in which we speak to those around us.
I grew up in a home that was a happy medium between proper speech and allowing for the latest trends in slang to slip through the cracks every now and again with out too many repercussions. Though the moment I called my dad “dude” I got a stern talking to. Sir and M’am were regularly used (though my parents remained Mom and Dad), and I was always to call my elders by Mister or Missus, never by their first name (my how the times have changed).
It’s funny isn’t it?
“That is really neat!” became, “Yo, that’s dope” or “rad Bro”. My mom still really loves to throw “groovy” into the mix every now and again. If you live on the coast in California hearing the words “Sick” “Gnarly!” or “Far-out” is relatively normal. “Busted” or “Hit” means someone looks bad… no longer just referring to something being broken or someone getting whats coming to them.
Don’t get me wrong, I use improper verbage like it’s my job. I genuinely believe that curse words are the salt of our vocabulary when properly used (sorry mom and dad, I know you frown on that) and I am a sucker for speech gravity, meaning that I pick up on words and phrases people around me use on a regular basis. Case and point, “girl boom”.
I am also a sucker for spoken abbreviation. I can’t help it, somethings just need to be spoken in capital letter as opposed to their fully fleshed word form, i.e. “TBT”. That being said, if you catch me saying things like “LOL” out loud I grant you full permission to smack me across the face, no one should do that… perhaps in a dry mocking tone, but outside of that, just don’t do it.
All in all I don’t frown on the change. Words are color, spoken and splashed across a canvas, messy, beautiful, and free flowing. “Freedom of Speech” it’s in our constitution for crying out loud. Some people take that liberty for granted, but for the most part it is a wonderful thing.
Speak into the world. Bring about beauty, art, and positivity. Be quick to listen and slow to speak, so that the words you use, no matter how proper or well put together, will carry weight.
As I ruffled through memories of the way in which language was used, how people phrase things, the words they choose to place together to form a sentence… the thing that stands out to me, the people who seem the most genuine and vivid, speak in their own voice. It is clear and unique to them, from the heart, no matter what comes out of their mouth it feel like something they would say, never forced or fake.
Listen to your own voice and use it.