Thinking like a Teenager: Creating New Vocabulary
Each new generation of teens creates its own language by inventing new words and phrases or by taking familiar ones and altering them so they mean something totally different. The purpose behind this is two-fold: to have a common language of belonging and also to bedevil their elders. By the time the lexicon is appropriated by adults, the kids have moved on to new terminology. Think of “rad”, “groovy” and “totally.”
The same is also true of society in general. There are many words that were commonly employed in previous generations that now have passed into disuse. I re-read the classic novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, this week and found many expressions that were footnoted for this very reason. Of course, this gave rise to a wordplay idea.
This week we are going to play around with using old archaic words in new ways. I employed my enormous dictionary plus some online surfing to find uncommon and interesting sounding words to use for this exercise.
Below I have made a list of words without their definitions. Guess what? You get to decide what they mean and how to use them in your writing.
The idea is to choose a word that looks and sounds interesting and come up with a definition. Then use the word in a free-writing exercise for five minutes. At the end of the time, choose another word and keep your piece going for an additional five minutes.
I will post the definitions for the words next week. If your curiosity gets the best of you, look them up.
I would love to see your definitions and stories.
As always, have fun writing!
Below is my free-writing based on last week’s post, “ The Power of a Single Word.” The prompts were all single words that carry a lot of meaning and power.
I chose the word home.
When I hear the word home my first thought is of the place of my childhood, which we called “ the little brown house with the red door.” I lived there from the age of 6 months until I was a freshman in high school. It is the reservoir of countless memories: Christmases, birthdays, friends, hide-and-seek and Red Rover, lemonade stands, endless litters of kittens, picnics in the backyard, tire swings, and tree houses and running through the sprinkler.
One of my favorite memories is of decorating for Christmas. Dad, my brother and I would pile on our coats, hats, and gloves and head out into the piney woods behind our house to gather branches. I remember tramping along singing Christmas carols and laughing at my brother’s antics. Dad would take his saw and cut fresh boughs which he piled onto our outstretched arms until we could scarcely see. Even now I can smell the pine fragrance and feel the tickle of the needles and the stickiness of the sap on my gloves.
Once we were home, Dad would climb the ladder and one-by-one accept the branches that we handed to him, stapling each one in place around our large picture window and our red front door. Next came the traditional untangling of the strings of Christmas lights which always produced a few “naughty” words from dad who insisted he had put them up so neatly the year before. My brother and I would cover our mouths with our sticky fingered gloves and exchange amused wide-eyed looks until the lights were ready to hang. Once the large bulb multi-colored lights were in place, we would plug them in and stand in the front yard admiring our work drinking hot chocolate and tea cakes provided by my mother.
Happy Writing this week! I hope you enjoy thinking like a teenager and making your own words.