One of my best friends is one that I happen to have known for the vast majority of my life seeing as we started school together at 4 years of age. We hold pretty much similar values and opinions in most things, which is why it pained me yesterday to hear his eldest son use the word “sick” to imply that the Lego Dimensions Father Christmas brought him was brilliant. I would have expected that kind of language to have been snubbed out a while ago!
Of course, the change in meaning of a word is not a new thing. I’ve spoken before how words have changed their meanings in slang and also questioned whether swearing has lost some of its effect now it so common place.
It’s not just in swearing, though, where overuse of a word can weaken its meaning. I should stress at this point that, despite the introduction, this did not come out of the mouth of my friend’s 8 year old!
I’ve been guilty in the past of saying that something is “murder”, whether that be traffic or dealing with someone particularly difficult, to indicate that it’s not very nice. In that context, “murder” still maintains its negative connotation. More seriously is the new meaning of the word “rape” which has somewhat insidiously entered its way in to modern vernacular to imply that something is good.
Back in my day, rape was used to describe what it was intended to describe – possibly the most heinous of crimes. This could be the opportunistic raping and pillaging in war zones to premeditated actions of a spurned spouse or partner in a brutal relationship.
Now, though, it’s possible to hear the word used in a light hearted context to signify just how well something was done or how poor someone’s treatment of another is in terms of being over worked, for example. Even the slang for having someone post Facebook statuses to an unattended account, “fraped”, makes light of the original word.
If we’re going to take the fight forward to ensure that such forms of abuse (I’m not even sure that the word “abuse” is severe enough in this context) are not tolerated, we need to make sure that the words we use continue to carry the importance and magnitude that they deserve. This moves past slang in my opinion, and colloquialisms can be seen as a reflection of what society is actually thinking.
If we’re going to empower future generations to take a stand on things that are important, then current generations need to stop making light of them. The generation of my friend’s son has the chance to do something about the things going wrong now before that generation is adversely influenced by society. It annoys me that sometimes we seem to be shooting ourselves in the foot.
Maybe if you were some spearheaded guy
I would listen to what you have to say
But you’re just some incapable figure
Thinking you’re bigger thn me
But you’re not
Yet you don’t know a thing about youth of today
Stating your opinion
Making it ring in my head all day
And you say
My children weren’t the same
My children’s children they’re the ones to blame
In my day we were better behaved
But it’s not your day no more…
We are the youth of today
Change our hair in every way
We are youth of today
We’ll say what we want to say
And we are the youth of today
Don’t care what you have to say at all
And maybe if you had a true point of view
I would listen to you
But it’s just your one sided feelings
They keep getting in my way
And you don’t know a single thing
About the youth of today
Stating your opinion making it ring in my head all day
Youth Of Today by Amy MacDonald