OBSERVATION NO. 1: TEEN-AGERS ARE
particularly adept at combining two words to make a new one. Last week we noted the word touron (tourist + moron). This week Quela and Justin Robinson of Herndon present us with the ingenious abusak -- music played in department stores, elevators, the Giant, etc. "We consider playing Muzak as complete abuse," quoth the Robinsons, "thus abusak." (Our nomination: anything by Christopher Cross.)
Observation No. 2: Teen-agers often use simple words with their original meaning, but adults can't believe that teen-agers can be so uncomplicated, and therefore they think the word means something else. For example, reeks is a verb meaning to smell, reports Christina Addabbo of Kensington, as in "These sneakers really reek." Other amazingly unadulterated examples of teen slang include bonus, meaning "anything more than you expected" (Danny Meiers, Upper Marlboro) and major, meaning "having great importance" (Mindi McGrath, Charlotte Hall, Md.).
Observation No. 3: Teen-agers, while they know and invent many words, have no understanding of the following words: "family newspaper" or "family newspaper Sunday magazine." If they did, we would not be so inundated with slang words for non-facial characteristics, for the less fortunate, for body parts, for the color of body parts and for reactions to body parts. Adults, when confronted with this array of vocabulary, have two courses of action.
First, they can choose to be horrified that teen-agers use these words so casually.
Or, they can marvel at such naivete' and innocence and can go to parties with other parents and talk about what their children said with the comforting belief that their darlings have no idea what such words really mean.