news words and the young (was experts)

Dennis Baron debaron at UIUC.EDU
Thu Jan 8 19:05:52 UTC 2004

> Re Page Stephens:

> While I certainly don't think language is wasted on the young, I for
> one would hesitate to locate linguistic creativity solely or even
> primarily among the ten-something set.
> Children create new words accidentally and on purpose, and surely in
> terms of family language many of their innovations become established
> because the adults who think they're so cute keep repeating them.
> We associate slang with the young as well, though certainly many
> social groups set themselves apart linguistically by creating new
> terms and expressions -- argot,  jargon,  brand names and trademarked
> phrases are not typically associated with kids. With the new in
> language, it's not just the innovation, it's the marketing as well.
> It's also a mistake, I think. to consider both adults and even moreso,
> the elderly, to be exclusively or largely conservative in language
> matters just because they may tend to use and sometimes preserve older
> forms. Despite stereotypes of old codgers objecting to newfangleness,
> the young can sometimes get pretty set in their linguistic ways
> (remember conformity?) and the old can be pretty flexible and
> innovative.
> So while I did hear a teen-ager interviewed on NPR last week about
> what's new in slang for '04, I certainly think that's only one aspect
> of what's new in English. And I suppose language professionals, like,
> might make, you know, good commentators? Duh.
> Dennis
> Dennis Baron                                              office: 217-244-0568
> Professor of English and Linguistics            mobile: 217-840-0776
> Department of English                                         fax: 217-333-4321
> University of Illinois              
> 608 S. Wright St.

More information about the Ads-l mailing list