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Youthful Speech

March 3, 2003 |

Dear Mr. Keillor,

I am 43 years old. Recently, I have noticed that my speech is full of what I would call "young person's expressions" - such as cool, sweet, totally and bummer. I really think I should do a better job with my vocabulary. Could you please suggest a few replacement phrases.

Lisa B.
Rochester, NY

Lisa, "cool" is just a tic, not really vocabulary at all. "Sweet" is a perfectly good word. "Totally" is about as expressive as a grunt. "Bummer" is pretty much empty, too. What is it exactly you're trying to say? Maybe nothing. Isn't that the whole point of teenspeak? To turn a blank face to the world and hide the fact that not much is happening behind it? At 43, you're selling yourself short if you stand around talking dumb talk. You've been living a life, right? So express it in whatever terms seem to evoke what's on your mind, your feelings, passions.

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