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triceretops
06-05-2008, 03:36 AM
My agent says that I should tear the granny pants off my 18-year-old female and let her talk more like a kid. She's real bright, and earned a scholarship to Harvard, but that's no excuse. He says she talks like a middle-aged woman. Okay, I think I can take care of that part of it.

But...could you please suggest some words or phrases that a hip, young girl might use in dialog or narrative.

For instance: what does "bling" mean? (Transformers)

What does a "tool" mean when referring to a guy? (Deck the Halls)

Any other now-today expressions? Including products? Sexual innuendo is okay.

(My girl, Avy, is blonde, thin, green eyes and falls in love with a magician during the story).

Phaeal
06-05-2008, 03:41 AM
Bling = jewelry (used to be bling bling, but was shortened for elegance)
Tool = penis, I'd think -- that's older slang, so the latest slang may differ.

There are several slang dictionaries on the Web. Check 'em out.

Toothpaste
06-05-2008, 03:44 AM
You are so cute!

"bling" is jewelry, but the kind of jewelry that is a little over the top, the kind of uber example would be what rappers wear, but it has translated really to mean anything that is a shiny accessory.

"tool" is pretty generic. I'm sure it has roots in something specific (possible something phallic), but it really just means "loser".

I would be careful however throwing in too many of these words. It depends more on your character than teenagers in general. Would a Harvard scholarship girl say "rents" for example (short for "parents")? Would she even say "bling", I have to wonder . . .

Toothpaste
06-05-2008, 03:50 AM
Just thinking aloud here . . . what if you made up your own slang as well? They did that quite effectively in the movie Clueless for example: "She's such a Monet". (Being a "Monet" means that from a distance the girl looks pretty good, but close up she's a mess - you know like the paintings by the artist. Thought that was so clever!)

donroc
06-05-2008, 03:50 AM
Go to urban dictionary.

WendyNYC
06-05-2008, 03:51 AM
I would be careful however throwing in too many of these words. It depends more on your character than teenagers in general. Would a Harvard scholarship girl say "rents" for example (short for "parents")? Would she even say "bling", I have to wonder . . .


I'd be careful with them, too, because you wouldn't want it to sound too forced.

But one of our babysitters is headed off to Yale and she says 'rents, sure. She sounds like a normal, like, teenager, ya' know?

triceretops
06-05-2008, 03:52 AM
Oh, I'm going to be very careful and use anything like this very sparingly. You're absolutely right about that---I don't want to ghetto this girl out. She's rather proper, comes from a semi-wealthy background.

Tri:D

Zodiea
06-05-2008, 03:52 AM
From my experiance Toothpaste's answer is pretty accurate. I just wanted to add in though that 'bling' isn't used synonymously with jewelry. For the most part it is only used when describing/making fun of a ganster/person who thinks they're a ganster. Here's a site that will help you out a lot with this, and is made by the young people themselves. http://www.urbandictionary.com/

ETA: Wow, four posts in two minutes! I was beaten to the link by quite a bit. In any case, a bit of extra info on slang: it evolves very often and there are plenty of teenagers who still have a hard time trying to figure out what the heck their friends are saying. Another reason to be sparing with it: What's a compliment today can be overused and turn into an insult tomorrow.

Soccer Mom
06-05-2008, 03:56 AM
See, the problem with slang is that it's also regional. When we say "bling" it means anything flashy.

But yeah, "tool" still means loser.

kuwisdelu
06-05-2008, 03:58 AM
Both of the above are right on bling. Over-the-top jewelry, but can also be used to refer to anything shiny or golden.

When used in the context "he is such a tool," "tool" generally means more along the lines of "arrogant, manipulative bastard." Although from above, maybe that's more regional.

But like Toothpaste said, I don't think teenage slang is really the best way to get your character talking more like a young person. I don't see a Harvard scholarship student saying "bling" very much. As an educated 18-year-old, I hardly ever say it. But that depends on your character, I suppose.

In my experience, as a young person, it's generally the more uneducated and unmotivated who speak with lots of slang, but also the educated teenagers who strongly want to fit in with their peers who do it. Personally, I don't use much slang, and it really depends on your character if she would or not.

In my opinion, there are better ways to convey a young person's speech than through slang.

WendyNYC
06-05-2008, 03:58 AM
Oh, I'm going to be very careful and use anything like this very sparingly. You're absolutely right about that---I don't want to ghetto this girl out. She's rather proper, comes from a semi-wealthy background.

Tri:D

Put in a few "likes." I hear a lot of likes, even from the proper, semi-wealthy girls.

ETA: Not too many, though. That can get, like, annoying.

bethany
06-05-2008, 04:01 AM
Don't worry so much about slang, worry about how they put sentences together and view the world. There are some popular terms that seem to be used by all teens, but by the time a book comes out, they might be completely lame. But there is a certain rhythm to teen speak and teen thought. Read some really well written YA, John Green for example, to get a feel for it. Oh and cuss a lot :) Read Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist for a taste of this. :D

Toothpaste
06-05-2008, 04:02 AM
Also slang can really date your work.

I wonder if your agent means more the way you've phrased what she says, and not what she says. You can write a sentence too formally. I'd watch some tv, Gossip Girl would be perfect for your situation, and listen to how the kids talk.

But as we've already said, it's about what is appropriate for the character.

kuwisdelu
06-05-2008, 04:05 AM
Put in a few "likes." I hear a lot of likes, even from the proper, semi-wealthy girls.

ETA: Not too many, though. That can get, like, annoying.

That's true for lots of proper, semi-wealthy girls, as any preppy girl. But I'd avoid it if you want her to sound educated. If you don't want her to sound too...well, you know what I mean...restrain it to when you would insert an "um" if you were talking aloud, and pausing to think.

If you want a good movie with modern teen-speak, watch Juno.

bethany
06-05-2008, 04:09 AM
And you know, it might be okay if she thinks like a middle-aged person if you make that clear in the story. I'm a firm believer in all teenagers being individuals and not stereotyped. If she's raised by her grandmother comments a few time in thinking like a middle aged person, or is made fun of by her best friend, that could cover a good bit of non-ya sounding-ness. :)

WendyNYC
06-05-2008, 04:09 AM
That's true for lots of proper, semi-wealthy girls, as any preppy girl. But I'd avoid it if you want her to sound educated. If you don't want her to sound too...well, you know what I mean...restrain it to when you would insert an "um" if you were talking aloud, and pausing to think.

Maybe in print it can be too much, that's true, so keep it to a minimum. But in real life I hear it a lot (perhaps because I hate it). Half of the seniors are headed for Ivies and they even talk this way around each other. Not so much to adults, though.

kuwisdelu
06-05-2008, 04:12 AM
Maybe in print it can be too much, that's true, so keep it to a minimum. But in real life I hear it a lot (perhaps because I hate it). Half of the seniors are headed for Ivies and they even talk this way around each other. Not so much to adults, though.

I am a little out of touch with most teens, since I tend not to associate with most "normal" teenagers. Plus I tend to think of most educated teenagers as being as antisocial as myself...

bethany
06-05-2008, 04:16 AM
Like can be overwhelming in text, as can totally and using so like I so want to like make out with that totally sick guy. (sick being like cool- don't use it even though all the kids are. Because not ALL the kids are and they won't be in a few years. Probably.

Memnon624
06-05-2008, 04:25 AM
My nephew-in-law is a grad student at Cornell, going for a Ph.D in literary theory . . . one of the smartest young people I know. But, you stick an Xbox 360 controller in his hand and boot up Halo 3 and you'd think he just traded places with the most ghetto rapper in existence. Which brings me to my point: Ivy League doesn't always equate with stodgy middle-aged thinking. Just ask Dan, who has been known to discuss the finer points of American transcendentalism just seconds before pwning my ass with his gat :)

Good luck!

Scott

kuwisdelu
06-05-2008, 04:29 AM
My nephew-in-law is a grad student at Cornell, going for a Ph.D in literary theory . . . one of the smartest young people I know. But, you stick an Xbox 360 controller in his hand and boot up Halo 3 and you'd think he just traded places with the most ghetto rapper in existence. Which brings me to my point: Ivy League doesn't always equate with stodgy middle-aged thinking. Just ask Dan, who has been known to discuss the finer points of American transcendentalism just seconds before pwning my ass with his gat :)

However, Halo 3 has nothing to do with ghetto rappers. ;)

That said, Legend of Zelda is my sin of choice.

Even though I don't go to an Ivy . . . too expensive and their scholarships are jokes as far as covering expenses goes.

C.bronco
06-05-2008, 04:53 AM
My niece just moved in with us. She's 17.

The other day she asked, "So when are we going to bounce?" Translation: "When are we leaving?"

brynna87
06-05-2008, 04:56 AM
the problem with teen slang, is that by tomorrow it's so yesterday. When I was in high school a very few short years ago we were saying ridiculous things like "aiight" and "Whassup?" and people really don't say those things any more.

But try not too get too hung up on slang. And liek other's have suggested, watch some contempory YA shows like Gossip Girl to get an idea of how teens talk these days. Although most teens aren't quite so afluent as those kids. Juno is a fun example of slang, although most teens dont' talk like her.

Also I don't think 'Tool' is a slang word so much as just a generic insult. Whenever I say tool I basically mean someone who is an idiot. But Bling on the other hand feels a little yesterday to me :)

Blondchen
06-05-2008, 05:12 AM
Tool = Douchebag

Other synonyms include: dillweed, dickwad, assbag, assclown, clown shoes, scrote, jerkwad, fuckstick.

Or you can just combine the two - toolbag.

triceretops
06-05-2008, 05:20 AM
Very pertinent comments here, and it is so true about dating the story, or forcing the issue. It's just that I don't have anything that would give her a teenage baseline. I mean nothing. So I'll try and find some ways of making her sound more familiar or approachable.

My problem, I think: If you ever saw I. Robot, where Will Smith meets the female scientist for the first time. Note how she speaks and loses him. Well, she's highbrow, hightech. I guess that comes across as stilted. So that's kind of a stylistic issue, and that might be crux of my problem.

As far as the middle-age connotation, I think my agent sees something in her that is exlusive to older women, which will be a tad harder to spot for me. She just might complain too much about certain things, that typically a teenage girl would not ordinarily be affected by.

Tri

Shady Lane
06-05-2008, 05:32 AM
What we do for slang, usually, is shorten words. It's very tongue-in-cheek, very fun, and you can do it spur-of-the-moment with any word you want. I say "obv," "gorge," (for gorgeous) "welks" (you're welcome), "fab," etc...

Chumplet
06-05-2008, 05:35 AM
I suppose if you relax the dialogue and include lots of contractions, your teenager will show through. I'd steer away from vocalizing deep thoughts, or too much analytic conversation. Keep it simple. However, during the narrative in the teen's POV, you can go all out.

jclarkdawe
06-05-2008, 05:43 AM
Ah, the challenge for a male in his fifties to write a teenage girl. Same thing I did with THE PICTURE. What I did was beta a couple of teenage/young women books on a swap arrangement. Both them (and my wife, who was really stunned) say I manage to hit teenage girl. I also read a couple of YA books and saw some YA chick flicks as well. I found the video on THE TRAVELING PANTS really good.

Also about the time I started the book, Taylor Swift came out with her first song, TIM MCGRAW. I just loved the voice and tone she used in the song, and every time I thought I was losing the voice, I'd just listen to the song a few times until I got it back.

It was an interesting experience.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

benbradley
06-05-2008, 05:46 AM
See, the problem with slang is that it's also regional. When we say "bling" it means anything flashy.

But yeah, "tool" still means loser.
I always understood bling to mean flashy jewelry and/or a fancy vehicle.

My niece just moved in with us. She's 17.

The other day she asked, "So when are we going to bounce?" Translation: "When are we leaving?"
Oh, like "When are we going to scratch the pad?"

Things were just so fab and groovy back then...

the problem with teen slang, is that by tomorrow it's so yesterday. When I was in high school a very few short years ago we were saying ridiculous things like "aiight" and "Whassup?" and people really don't say those things any more.

But try not too get too hung up on slang. And liek other's have suggested, watch some contempory YA shows like Gossip Girl to get an idea of how teens talk these days. Although most teens aren't quite so afluent as those kids. Juno is a fun example of slang, although most teens dont' talk like her.

Also I don't think 'Tool' is a slang word so much as just a generic insult. Whenever I say tool I basically mean someone who is an idiot. But Bling on the other hand feels a little yesterday to me :)
Yeah, I first heard bling about ten years ago, and I was 40 at the time. Tool is at least more recent.I've had the impression its meaning is rather literal, and means something like pawn - the person is not independent, but is someone else's 'tool.'

NicoleMD
06-05-2008, 05:50 AM
If the girl doesn't speak slang, the girl doesn't speak slang. No need to force it. But you could have her friends call her out for speaking so properly and have it be a touchy subject for her. Then maybe she tries some slang out and uses it wrong/decides it sounds stupid, so she stops. I'd say it sounds like she needs to be more relatable than more "jiggy with it"...ummmm...I think I just proved my point.

:)

Nicole

Kalyke
06-05-2008, 06:06 AM
For instance: what does "bling" mean? Shiny things. Diamonds, fake sparkly stuff. My dog's bling would mean my dogs new Swarovski Crystal dog collar. I am not sure if Coach qualifies as bling. It must be shiny clattery stuff either real, fake, or virtual.

What does a "tool" mean when referring to a guy? Tool refers to a male's reproductive anatomy. To say "you're such a tool," means you are a dick-head/ looser/ wet-weenie. I think it refers to guys only. You can also use tool as "tool of the man" sort of a sycophant, brown-noser, teacher's pet. I suspect in this case, a woman can be a tool.

Any other now-today expressions? Including products? Sexual innuendo is okay. There are many hip/bad/groovy urban slang and teenage slang dictionaries on the internet(s).

triceretops
06-05-2008, 06:07 AM
Someone suggested using some of her own slang terms, which I think is a great idea, as long as I don't over-do it and they are instantly relatable. Kind of like cut-down similies. It seems like the scriptwriters of comedy feature films have no problem comming up with these terms and phrases. I think out of all the Will Ferrell comedies, you'd be able to create a whole new language.

Man am I busted. I didn't know "bling" was that old. I, uh, just found out what a blackberry was the other day. There's no hope, I tell ya.

I think I'm still stuck in the days of Robin Williams and his "My bad."

Tri

Blondchen
06-05-2008, 06:10 AM
Both them (and my wife, who was really stunned) say I manage to hit teenage girl.

Ha. I won't even tell you what THAT means in slang...

Blondchen
06-05-2008, 06:12 AM
I was thinking - which is rare, trust me - that instead of listening to teenage slang in film and television, maybe you should read some. These days, its less about slang terms than it is about the text/IM shorthand. Check out your average 15 year old's MySpace page or blog, or read through comments on the hottest daily YouTube videos, and you'll see what I mean.

Might not be applicable for your MC, but perhaps for some of the characters she interacts with? We are all of us defined by our friends, afterall.

Kalyke
06-05-2008, 06:14 AM
There is the problem-- always that it supposedly takes something like 2 years to actually get on the shelves. By the time it gets to the stores it will be dated. You should tell your editor this. In 2 years all that slang will be "so yesterday."

Danger Jane
06-05-2008, 09:12 AM
That's true for lots of proper, semi-wealthy girls, as any preppy girl. But I'd avoid it if you want her to sound educated. If you don't want her to sound too...well, you know what I mean...restrain it to when you would insert an "um" if you were talking aloud, and pausing to think.

If you want a good movie with modern teen-speak, watch Juno.

Juno is a GREAT example for this. Like the previous example of Clueless, the Juno lingo is its own animal (look it up on youtube: juno lingo). You don't want to date your work with phrases like "bling"--which are, at least in my upper-middle-class section of New England, joke words. So why not make some up?

And absolutely read some popular YA--current stuff and not-so-current stuff--to see how different authors have handled it. I rarely felt thrown out of the story in The Catcher In the Rye, even though it's decades old now, because Salinger uses words that didn't go out of fashion. Those words are your best bets.

ETA: From the days when this word entered my vocabulary (2001, age 11) to today, "tool" has always meant asshole, dick, bastard, jerk, loser, noob, dweebus, goon, doofus--depending, of course, on context. I don't think I've ever heard another kid use "tool" to refer to penises. Those are peepees :D

Phaeal
06-05-2008, 05:34 PM
My fifteen year old protag and his fifteen year old friend use slang pretty sparingly. I try to get their voices through rhythm and the occasional "teen-ism." Slang dates so quickly, and fiction too heavy with it is as cumbersome as fiction too heavy with dialect.

Slang is also like dialect in that you had better know it well before you trowel it on.

As others have noted, the indiscrimate use of "like" and "you know" is a good form of teen-YA speak for the educated girl. Take it from someone who hangs around Brown University -- the most delicately raised scionettes of the national elite pepper their speech with these two ad nauseum.

But for the reader's sake, don't let your character use "likes" and "you knows" too naturalistically, i.e., every other word. God, how annoying that would be.

Libbie
06-05-2008, 05:35 PM
Well, the perennial "cool" is always used.

"Sick" means pretty much the same thing as cool. That's all that's coming to my head right now, but I just rolled out of bed. I'll get back to you later today.

Okay, now that I've read other responses, I agree that actual slang words will look out of date. What about using somewhat less mature phrasing, so she sounds younger? Stuff like "no way" to express disbelief, "gross," "whoah," "wild," etc.? Those are more timeless, but less middle-aged-womanly.

James81
06-05-2008, 06:05 PM
Other common phrases:

"off the chain" --groovy, awesome, cool, far out, whatev.

"sweet" -- the new "cool" as in "Wow, that gaming system is pretty sweet." (<<<this one is VERY common nowadays

LloydBrown
06-05-2008, 06:22 PM
My nephew-in-law is a grad student at Cornell, going for a Ph.D in literary theory . . . one of the smartest young people I know. But, you stick an Xbox 360 controller in his hand and boot up Halo 3 and you'd think he just traded places with the most ghetto rapper in existence.

Having run a game store that included a LAN, I can attest to the horrible things that happen to someone's mouth when they play a video game.

Memnon624
06-05-2008, 07:04 PM
Having run a game store that included a LAN, I can attest to the horrible things that happen to someone's mouth when they play a video game.

Amen. I'm a fairly quiet, shy sort of guy . . . until I start playing video games. Then I become a foul-mouthed monster who shrieks obscenities at the screen. Usually as I'm getting killed. Repeatedly.

I'm a video gamer. Just not a GOOD video gamer ;)

Scott

kuwisdelu
06-05-2008, 07:45 PM
Oh, speaking of gaming... I should mention that gaming has a slang all its own, completely separate from mainstream teenage slang. There, you have things like frag, meaning to kill your opponent, and pwn, a corruption of "own" as in "you got owned" or "you got dominated by my superiorness." One good thing about gaming slang, is that it tends to be a little more universal and less regional than regular slang.

And as far as I know, I've been known to let the curses fly as much as anyone else in a deathmatch, but I rarely talk with any rapper slang...other than the well-known *****, ***********, ****, and ******, which aren't really exclusive to ghetto rappers.

Phaeal
06-05-2008, 09:36 PM
Heh, I'm no teenager, but I can speak gamer slang, due to my long involvement with Diablo On-Line. My Bonemancer is teh ebil, dude. ZOMG he will so pwn you. ;)

Hmm, actually, there's a lot of overlap between game slang and the fangirl/fanboy slang on the fanfic circuits. Not surprising, as they can be overlapping populations.

Although the fangirls are fond of some locutions you won't often find in a MMORPG, like, "Squeeeeee, I so want to have your babies!!!!" (Written to another fangirl, biological constraints notwithstanding.)

kuwisdelu
06-05-2008, 09:52 PM
Heh, I'm no teenager, but I can speak gamer slang, due to my long involvement with Diablo On-Line. My Bonemancer is teh ebil, dude. ZOMG he will so pwn you. ;)

Hmm, actually, there's a lot of overlap between game slang and the fangirl/fanboy slang on the fanfic circuits. Not surprising, as they can be overlapping populations.

Although the fangirls are fond of some locutions you won't often find in a MMORPG, like, "Squeeeeee, I so want to have your babies!!!!" (Written to another fangirl, biological constraints notwithstanding.)

I'm quite familiar with *squeeeee* ;)

Claudia Gray
06-05-2008, 10:41 PM
I would actually steer clear of slang as much as possible -- it dates your manuscript fast. But you can youthen your MC's language by having her speak more informally, with less complicated sentence structure; that would probably do a lot.

Sassee
06-06-2008, 12:37 AM
Oh, speaking of gaming... I should mention that gaming has a slang all its own, completely separate from mainstream teenage slang. There, you have things like frag, meaning to kill your opponent, and pwn, a corruption of "own" as in "you got owned" or "you got dominated by my superiorness." One good thing about gaming slang, is that it tends to be a little more universal and less regional than regular slang.

pwn = power own, also said as "pwnt"

And yeah, it is more universal. I'm also a gamer and the speech is mostly consistant across 3 continents (US, EU, AU). Though if you aren't a gamer and trying to imitate it, we know instantly. It's not something I recommend trying unless you're familiar with it. But then, "gamer talk" will probably date your novel as well, and I don't think your character is in any way similar to a gamer. Probably wouldn't fit her.


Heh, I'm no teenager, but I can speak gamer slang, due to my long involvement with Diablo On-Line. My Bonemancer is teh ebil, dude. ZOMG he will so pwn you. ;)

o rly?


Hmm, actually, there's a lot of overlap between game slang and the fangirl/fanboy slang on the fanfic circuits. Not surprising, as they can be overlapping populations.

Although the fangirls are fond of some locutions you won't often find in a MMORPG, like, "Squeeeeee, I so want to have your babies!!!!" (Written to another fangirl, biological constraints notwithstanding.)

"Squee" is a pretty universal noise, also sometimes described as a "squeal of excitement" ;)


Tri - I'd recommend submitting a section to a few betas or post in SYW. I doubt it's the slang that has your editor saying your young MC sounds like a middle-aged woman. Could be perspective or energy levels or general attitude. It's hard to say without seeing the narration.

gypsyscarlett
06-06-2008, 01:11 AM
I think that slang can and will end up dating your work.

And even more importantly- not all eighteen year olds use slang. Maybe your 18 year old character speaks like a middle-aged woman- cuz that's just how she talks!

In the end, you have to do right by your character.

IceCreamEmpress
06-06-2008, 01:27 AM
The Harvard Crimson is online (http://www.thecrimson.com/). Now, obvs the stuff in the paper is going to be totes more formal than everyday speech, but if you want to know how Harvard students talk, there they are.

Also, if you're setting a book at one of the old US universities, have someone who went to that school beta-read it for accuracy. Harvard Yard = Yale Old Campus = University of Virginia Lawn, etc., etc. The older schools generally have very specific vocabularies, with "Houses" or "Colleges" instead of dorms, "Proctors" or "Tutors" instead of resident advisors, etc.