That couple on your Instagram feed is “goals.” That girl in your English class is “so extra.” You have three tests this weekend, “the struggle.” Are you “finna” go to McDonald’s later?
These are just a few of the many language quirks that the millennial generation has created and uses on a regular basis.
Kellie Frye, a freshman studying public health, said she uses the word “shook” as a regular part of her vocabulary.
“I say it because I feel amazed and don’t have any words to explain how I feel,” Frye said. “My roommate showed me a SpongeBob meme and that’s where I got it from.”
Brock Middleton, a junior majoring in interdisciplinary studies, said that slang is the way he expresses how he is feeling in the moment.
“A lot of it makes it seem related to our era,” Middleton said. “The words just describe the situation that we are in better than any others. It makes the language ours.”
Jack Harrell, a faculty member in the English department, said that there is a specific name he uses for slang in the English language.
“These are shibboleths,” Harrell said.
In Judges 12, in the Bible, the fugitives of Ephraim asked the Gileadites to cross over.
The people of Gilead would respond with, “Say now, ‘Shibboleth.'” When the fugitives of Ephraim responded with the incorrect pronunciation, the Gileadites would slay them. Forty-two thousand of Ephraim fell because they did not pass this test.
Don’t worry, you probably won’t be slain if you don’t use these words correctly.
Harrell said that there are primarily three reasons why people use language quirks such as these.
“They are a test of who belongs and who doesn’t,” Harrell said. “It’s cool to be on the latest trend. Language is fun to play with. It’s a sign of wit. They distinguish groups and seem to say ‘We are young and witty. We know the lingo.'”
Cassidy Strong, a junior majoring in marriage and family studies, said she chooses not to participate in this social activity.
“I don’t participate,” Strong said. “I don’t know what they mean. Maybe that makes me an old grandma.”
Harrell said that “shibboleths” are characteristic of the younger generations.
“When your 50-year-old English teacher is saying it, it’s no longer cool,” he said.
Harrell said that people have been doing this for a long time. He said that “shibboleths” are spread through the Internet and word of mouth.
“It shows how we are like every other up-and-coming generation,” Harrell said. “We think it has never been done before, but our parents did this before we did. The internet is a big part of how they are spread. It has to do with whether or not you are in the right group.”
Elizabeth Walters, a junior studying horticulture, said that using trendy language keeps things from getting boring.
“I think we are trying to keep it real and mix it up from the normal things that we are so used to saying,” Walters said.
Frye said she thinks that this generation has created its own language.
“What’s so funny about it is that adults don’t know what we are saying,” Frye said. “It’s kind of like our own language.”
Middleton said that is the way this generation expresses itself. It keeps things “fresh.”
“What sounds better? Cool or lit? Go for it or send it?” Middleton said.