The Unorthodox Website Blog

Changing language

22 Jan

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‘How bona to vada your dolly old eek!’

Is it any wonder I and my mother, when watching TV, can’t understand much of what’s going on when the younger generation speak another language from us over 60s?

Watching a TV program with a friend still in his 40s, everyone in the audience seemed to know what ‘dogging’ was, and there were hoots of laughter as people admitted to doing it. I don’t see what’s funny about walking the dog, but my 40-something friend explained that it means having sex in public. Why ‘dogging’ I don’t know - because dogs do it in public? In that case it could just as easily mean lifting one’s leg and pissing up against a lamp-post.

Graham Norton in his trendy show once asked the audience to turn on something or other on their mobile phones, and again everyone (all under 30) seemed to know what the Hell he was talking about. Next thing Norton was rushing about asking: ‘Oh are you Big Boobs?’ etc.. Apparently it is some means of communicating/texting under pseudonyms. But to anyone over 60, it is a complete mystery. I’m sure my basic mobile phone doesn’t have this facility, whatever it is. Wish I could remember what it was called, but age is catching up on me and the old brain cells ain’t what they used to be. Was is  Blue something? Not Blu-Ray, that’s another wretched new gadget to replace ordinary DVDs. Blue Tone, that might’ve been it. What the Hell is Blue Tone/bluetone/blutone? Tony Blackburn telling near the knuckle jokes?

Once, when working in Reception a few years ago, a visitor phoned up to say he’d left a blackberry in the Reception. I naturally told him not to worry about it, as long as nobody sat on it I’m sure it wouldn’t be a problem. But apparently he wasn’t talking about enjoying a snack of fruit of the bramble bush whilst waiting in Reception, and dropping one of the  blackberries on the seat. It is apparently some kind of mini-computer/mobile phone combined.

In this same Reception area a colleague in her 30s jokingly told our handsome young boss in his 40s that he was a ‘chav’. I naturally thought this meant he was a good ‘f***k’ since ‘chaver’ or ‘chava’ in the old gay slang (polari) meant sexual intercourse - hence ‘a good chava’. I just assumed ‘chav’ was an abbreviation of ‘chava’. Apparently it is police jargon for Council Housing and Associated Violence (C.H.A.V.). Bloody cheek! I and my mother have lived in local authority housing on and off for over 50 years, and never have we come across yobs hanging around the lifts in gangs. In fact only 3 of the 10 local authority flats/houses my mother or I lived in had lifts in the block, and two of those were in her sheltered housing blocks for over-50s and disabled people. My present council estate has no ‘chavs’, or ‘yobbos’ as we used to call them, hanging around waiting to commit violence, thank you very much!

As for soaps like Coronation Street and EastEnders I have to turn on the subtitles for the hard-of-hearing to understand anyone under 30 or even 40. There’s Janice Battersby, no spring chicken herself, going on about ‘Chrimbo’, which apparently means ‘Christmas’, and ‘the lecky bill’ which apparently means ‘the electricity bill’, whilst younger cast members in this and other TV programs talk about ‘dissing’ each other, which apparently means ‘disrespecting’. If they talked English perhaps they’d earn more ‘respect’, and in any case ‘dissing’ someone, as they put it, does not mean they then deserve a knife or bullet in the stomach!

There has always been local slang - when I first went up to my partner’s home city of Glasgow, or met his relatives when they came down here, I had to learn a whole new language such as ‘it’s awfy clatty’ for ‘it’s very dirty’, ‘the wains were greetin” for ‘the kids were crying’, ’she’s away oot fer messages’ for ’she’s out shopping’, ‘he’s on the brew’ for ‘he’s on the dole’, ‘I’ll tak a fish supper carry-oot’ for ‘Fish and chips to take away’, ‘I’m away oop the factor’ for ‘I’m going to see the landlord’, ‘Gis a pinta Heavy’ ‘for ‘A pint of beer please’, etc., etc.  But you expect such things in foreign parts. We Cockneys had our riming slang - ‘up the apples’ for ‘up the stairs’ or ‘up the frog’ for ‘up the road’, etc.

Certain communities also had their own slang, such as the gay polari already mentioned - ‘vada the eek on the polone’ meant ‘look at that woman’s face’ for instance, and as for ‘bona carts on the homy’ well that was referring to a certain part of a man’s anatomy in approving fashion. The whole point of polari was so straight people couldn’t understand it, so a cry of ‘the sharpies’ or ‘Lily’s coming’ when gay men were up to mischief resulted in them getting dressed quickly and fleeing the scene, as ’sharpies’ or ‘lily law’ meant the police.

So I can only assume the younger generation have adopted this new language to stop anyone over 25 or 30 knowing what the Hell they are talking about. Such as when I went to a gay club and was told it was ‘Scally-boy nite’ and I was dressed all wrong. Apparently ’scally boys’ are similar to ‘chavs’ - youths in baseball caps and sports gear. I can assure you many of the guys in the club, whilst they may have been wearing baseball caps to hide their thinning locks, could hardly be described as ‘youths’, but quite a few were. But I’d still like to know why ’scally boy’? I suppose it sounds better than ‘Yobbo Nite’.

Texting has led to a lot of abbreviations, which we Telex Operators were doing 20, 30, 40 years ago. We initiated texting, as we sent instant messages to other telex operators around the world long before mobile phones were invented, typing things like: ‘C U l8er’. Also the so-called email codes for countries were originally Telex codes. I fondly remember the D for West Germany/West Berlin and the DD for East Germany (known in Germany by its initials - the ‘DDR’).

So next time you pass a group of chavs whatever you do don’t diss them, unless you fancy getting roughed up and perhaps worse by a group of yobbos. Whatever turns you on, m8!

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