1961 article on teen slang

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Fri Sep 14 16:15:39 UTC 2007

HDAS has a "fungus among us" from ca1960, with plain old "fungus" some decades earlier.


Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
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Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Wilson Gray
Subject: Re: 1961 article on teen slang

Back in the 'Fifties, we used to say: "Take it easy, greasy. There's a
fungus among us," rhyming "among us" with "fungus." "Easy" and
"greasy" already rhymed in the local dialect. It had no particular
meaning. It just sounded funny. A person would throw it into a
conversation "just for fee-U-N," to use slang from my mother's youth,
if a speaker overstepped the bounds of good taste. Everything else in
the article is strange, which is to be expected, since I was in the
War in the early 'Sixties.


On 9/14/07, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
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> Sender: American Dialect Society
> Poster: Benjamin Zimmer
> Subject: 1961 article on teen slang
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> The following article by Gay Pauley, UPI women's editor, appeared in
> various newspapers in December 1961. (Newspaperarchive has it in: San
> Antonio Light, Dec. 12, 1961, p. 21; Long Beach Press-Telegram, Dec.
> 14, 1961, p. 8; etc.)
> -----
> Beep beep to all you handcuffs whose teenagers fizz it up when you
> won't let them have the beast, complain that their uranium is too low,
> that everyone else is a snagged stag, and why do they have to skip the
> bash just because of a brain derby.
> Translation, if you're a murgatoid (square): Hi to all you parents
> whose teenagers lose their temper when you won't let them have the
> family car, complain that their allowance is too low, that everyone
> else is going steady, and why do they have to miss the party just
> because of school exams.
> Art Unger is the man who sets parents right on what their youngsters
> mean when they refer to someone as a Poor Pearl (an unpopular girl),
> as a chicken (engaged girl), a splouse (an extra special louse), or a
> squeep (a cross between a square and a creep).
> Unger is publisher and and editor of "Datebook" magazine and author of
> a new book, "The Cool Book" (Prentice Hall), called a "teenager's
> guide to survival in a square society."
> Unger talks to teens, in teen terms, on such matters as dating, good
> looks and grooming, popularity and education. But it's the section on
> teenager "cooloquialisms" and "daffynitions" which I suggest for dazed
> parents.
> Some instances, and the translations:
> Don't bust me means quit kidding. A cannibal's cave is the home
> economics room. Antsville is a crowded place. A chick is a single
> girl. Pucker Palace is a drive-in movie. Turn up the stereo means
> listen to me. A tourniquet is a wedding ring. Pony express means on a
> date, just you and the driver. A stage coach is a double date.
> A nest is a hairdo. Chrome-plated is all dressed up. A grody is a
> murgatroid, or a square also. Psyche it out means to think
> a problem through. Wave your wig is to comb your hair. Failed to orbit
> means you failed to get a date. It's been heaven but I think I'll jump
> for earth translates simply as the evening's over.
> Teen torture is homework, a coffee pot is the life of the party, and a
> fungus among us means there's a character in our midst. A library kiss
> is one with lots of volume. Germ warfare is kissing. Earth pads are
> shoes. Skull drag is to study, King George's jive is English, and the
> creep catalog is the yearbook.
> And, that's the way the gravity pulls means that's life.
> [The rest consists of "daffynitions".]
> A teacher is daffily defined as one who talks in other people's sleep.
> A crew cut is a furry with a single on top. Sunbathing is a fry in the
> ointment.
> A minute man is the fellow who can make it to the refrigerator and
> back with a sandwich while the commercial is on. A pedestrian is a man
> with two cars, a wife and a son. The ringleader is the first one in
> the bathtub.
> An adult is a person who has stopped growing at both ends and started
> growing in the middle. A barbecue is an incinerator with a press
> agent. Love is the feeling that makes a boy think as much of a girl as
> he thinks of himself.
> And a coed is a girl who didn't get her man in high school.
> -----
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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