Learning the Slanguage
As a bonus mom to a just-teen (thirteen) and soon-to-be-teen (eleven), my linguistic knowledge expands constantly. Thank goodness for four more children in their early to mid-twenties who are much more in tune with trendy
jargon than I am. They often save me from being completely discombobulated.
I think the first one that stumped me was “yeet,” defined by Merriam-Webster as “an exclamation of enthusiasm; or to hurl or move forcefully.” Thankfully, this and others of a similar vein—like lit, sus, drippy, and shooketh (I’ll spare you the explanations) are typically considered slang and appear only in the Urban Dictionary. I don’t know how today’s teens or the online lexicons keep up.
Mainstream and popular culture often intersect in language. In 2021, Merriam-Webster, the oldest dictionary publisher in the United States (founded in 1831), added more than 400 new words! Not surprisingly, many words and terms came into vogue because of the COVID-19 pandemic, like long hauler, super-spreader, and vaccine passport. These—unlike slanguage—make sense to me. They help us talk about our experiences.
Thanks in part to my work, the origin and evolution of words fascinate me. I recently learned that “February,” besides being a commonly misspelled word, comes from februum, Latin for “purification.” This seems apropos to February, which is also known as the month of love. Purifying our hearts and minds in connection to our relationship with Christ and accepting God’s will are imperative to building lasting relationships—romantic and otherwise. “Let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).
Beautiful words close this column about words: a prayer to the patron of love and happy marriages, St. Valentine:
Dear Lord, who art high in the Heavens,
Giver of Love and Passion,
And He who strings the heart’s cords,
Lead the Lovers this day, February ten plus four.
The day during the month of two,
When the date is the perfect number of God
Greater two souls and two hearts.
Some Loves are fleeting,
But that which is built on you will never fail.
So guide the Lovers to know what is to be.
Your truths the Lovers’ mouths should speak,
For Your truth is that which is honest to the heart.
Only this, then, should pass over the
red lips of the Lovers.
Your art, the Lovers simply a medium.
It is only with True Hearts that
You can create a Masterpiece,
So let the Lovers remember that their Soul’s Desire
Is the one for which You light their Fire.
And let it be You who creates the Art of the Lovers;
The art of two into one. Amen.