1961 article on teen slang

Paul Johnston paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU
Fri Sep 14 19:15:12 UTC 2007

Ah, the memories.  My sister actually wrote a regular column in this
magazine, and her position there led me to obtain all kinds of DJ
copies of records, including all the Beatles' early singles.  I do
remember some of the words, though I'm really one half-generation
younger (i. e. late Sixties-early Seventies was my youth's heyday).

Paul Johnston
On Sep 14, 2007, at 12:01 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: 1961 article on teen slang
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> ---------
> 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.
> -Wilson
> On 9/14/07, Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
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>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
>> 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.
>> -----
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> --
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -----
>                                               -Sam'l Clemens
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> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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