Talking to the Kids in Their Language


When I was young, I used to cringe when adults made clumsy, if well-intentioned, attempts to speak in what they thought was “youthful slang” in order to make a connection with us.

Now that I’m one of those adults, I can’t tell for sure whether the message in this poster (which I saw in the Toronto subway yesterday) comes across to today’s net/text-speaking youth as clever or clumsy. I’m torn – should my reaction be LOL or WTF?

(And is it me, or does the expression on the guy’s face say BRB?)

This article also appears in Global Nerdy.

It Happened to Me Play

Names I Have Been Referred By at the Gym

"Hans and Franz" from Saturday Night Live

Names at the Old Gym (Mostly people in their 20s – 30s)

From summer 2005 to the start of 2009, I was a member at a gym located a ten-minute walk away from home. The crowd is made up mostly of people in their 20s and 30s, presumably students, singles and the “yummy mummy” crowd, with students and homemakers making the lion’s share of attendees during business hours.

Here are the ways I was addressed at that gym:

  • Joey
  • Mr. deVilla
  • Jose
  • “Joe-zay” (an attempt to pronounce “Jose”)
  • Accordion Guy
  • Dude
  • Dogg
  • Yo
  • Sir

Names at the Current Gym (“Newly wed or nearly dead”)

I switched to the new gym not because there was anything wrong with the old gym, but because:

  • It’s only a block away from home, making it more likely that I’d go more often, especially when the weather’s bad. So far, it’s worked; on average, I’m there every other day.
  • It has a swimming pool.

Before and after business hours, the crowd is made up of people from their 20s through 40s. During business hours, it’s the retiree crowd.

Here are the ways in which I’ve been addressed or referred to by my fellow gym members:

  • Joey
  • Jerry
  • Jimmy
  • Johnny
  • Young Man
  • Young Feller
  • That Microsoft Guy
  • The Computer Guy
  • The Accordion Player
  • Young Chinese Fella
  • “That young guy who’s always here in the middle of the day…why doesn’t he have a job?”