Cultural Observation: Words Matter, Especially with Teens

“Language is a powerful signifier for all humans, but perhaps more for teenagers than most. For them, language is not just a tool of communication, but a means of establishing class, race, religion, which part of town they’re from, the music they listen to, the groups to which they are affiliated and myriad other things that adults forgot when they hit 20. This has always been the case, but what is new among the teenagers I work with is the casual appropriation of what were once compliments as insults – invariably targeted at females. If a girl “gives character”, she needs slapping down. If she’s “lively”, she’s slutty.” -source of quote is lost

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