Teenage-ese: A Language Analysis

Posted: October 21, 2015 in Communication, Humor, Humorous Poetry, Parenting, Poetry, Teenagers
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Teenage Brain

Photo Credit: KindredMedia.org

I am still learning to decipher “Teenage-ese”

A widely spoken dialect, worldwide

Yet unique to those who have roamed the earth

For 13 to 19 years.

The first mystery is the vocabulary of this ancient tongue

It seems that there are only 7 words: “Uh-huh” “Nothing”

“Good” “Not” “Much” “Video” and “Games.”

As for tone, there appear to be two notes: low mumble and mid-range mumble

Excitement is hard to detect, shrouded in ambiguous grunts and mutterings

Unless a wrong is perceived, and then suddenly

This language acquires profound expressiveness

Through the boldly and repeatedly expressed phrase “Come on!”

Flowing conversations are not a traditional part

Of Teenage-ese oral traditions.





Seem integral to the communication style,

Creating regular tension with

Parent-ese, a language that insists

On constantly clear and emotionally appropriate communication.

And so, it is tempting to give up on Teenage-ese.

Grunts, groans and monotones

Fall prey to suggesting apathy.

But every so often, like the King in

“The King and I” who constantly exasperates his wife,

Teenage-ese succumbs to “something wonderful”

A single vulnerable phrase slips out despite

The best efforts of the native speaker.

An “I love you” evades the security system and tunnels underneath

The protective barbed wire of the teenage psyche.

If you are blessed

To catch this moment, grab it.

Security will soon catch up with the errant words.

And incarcerate them once again in the teenage brain.

And the mystery of Teenage-ese begins once again . . .

  1. Malaika says:

    JB! This is the funniest post you have ever written! I loved reading it! I will remember this well once Caleb and Naomi become teenagers. Haha! Hilarious! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, thanks a lot Kurlz! Glad you enjoyed it. Every stage is an adventure. Look forward to your Caleb/Naomi stories;)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kenel says:

    Jonathan, what a treat to have read such a witty post! The grin never abated… 🙂

    Yet, humor aside, the poem has depth and is unequivocal about today’s teenage vernacular. Reflections give way to concerns, followed by smiles which then hint at yesteryears’—our very own—histrionics. The “parallel gap in language” (Wikipedia) throughout the generations suggests an unabashed viewpoint, but one where “teenage-ese” variable emotions, rather than total indifference, is central.

    The “parent-ese” apparent knee-jerk reaction to the phenomenon, all the more humorous.

    Liked by 1 person

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