Chill Is The New Cool
Recently, it was brought to my attention that the term “cool” was no longer the correct way to express feelings of affirmation or endearment in thinking something was awesome, or neat. Chill, has evolved in the vocabulary of today’s youth as a way of saying cool, and my word choice is now a bit dated. Dated…? I’m in my 30s.
New slang words like “sick” – meaning something is good – are popular among teenagers today, but these words can leave an older generation a bit bewildered. Regrettably, the term “sick” led me to believe the immune systems of today’s youth had deteriorated to abysmal levels.
Fear not, for history tells us we will be fine. The meaning of words have changed frequently and sometimes dramatically over time. Luckily, we live in a world where we adjust to continue conversing effectively, especially as language and terminology evolves.
Growing up in the 90s, we had our fair share of slang, too, I suppose. I remember going through the Clueless “whatever” era, along with saying “my bad!” – to apologize when I messed up. These slang words are timestamps identifying a culture – my teenage years – and exist as hallmarks of a different era.
Eventually, my speech patterns adjusted and these slang terms gradually filtered out of my basic vocabulary. Why, though? As we age, we adjust to the terminology of the audience with whom we commonly converse. Following the 90s era came the 2000s and, for me, the ensuing job interviews. Professionalism counts in the work force and proper English shows an understanding of competent protocols. Slang is defined as a language of the young people and interviewing using the current era’s pop culture terminology of “cray-cray” or “peeps” may have revealed my level of expertise, or lack thereof, to potential employers.
New words and phrases emerge quickly, spreading to cities and countries everywhere. Sometimes, a new slang term even reaches so deeply into culture that it creeps into the dictionary (like YOLO – because you know, you only live once). The break-neck pace of change means we are adopting more words faster than ever. David Crystal, honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Bangor states, “Language itself changes slowly, but the internet has sped up the process of those changes so you notice them more quickly”. Eventually this generation of youth will grow up and “sick” will fade into nostalgic memories of their past. A new wave of youth will develop its own slang, allowing them to interact autonomously, free of parent or elder apprehension. These expressions, however, will remain a part of history, allowing many to look back on bits of the past; which I think is pretty cool, or should I say, pretty chill.