Posted by: Debrah Martin | March 17, 2014


Teenagers. Do you have one? I have two. Sometimes we connect, sometimes we are worlds apart whilst in the same room.  It’s not simply a matter of communication – although that helps, of course! Writing as the character of Lily in Webs focussed me on parent-teenager relationships with uncomfortable results. I started with the language because it is so different. I brief flirtation with Mumsnet will tell you how much. The threads covering teenage speak include a wealth of gold in terms of specific phraseology, such as (and I give all credit to the Mumsnet forums for this little bunch!)

Hench= muscular, attractive

Bear/bare= very

Swag= attitude, arrogance, sense of own attractiveness to opposite sex

Mandem = your circle of friends

Piff= attractive

Bredrin = closest friends

Bookie = weird/disgusting (boo=key)

Gwop = money

Cat = disgusting

Peng = rather good

Sick = really good, cool

Fam = friend

Ting = thing

Butters = Ugly girl/boy. Nice body, but her/his face; shortened to butters. (There is a character in Shameless called Butterface / ‘but her face!’)

Game = flirting (lots of teen slang comes from Jamaican patois, particularly mandem and bredrin)

Fazza = family

Banter = fun chat

Trolling = fooling someone

Legend = seems to refer to a child who’s done something ‘sick’ at school which the teachers didn’t find ‘sick’.

Brah = new for bro

Blad = blood. ie family and close friends

Faf = fit as fuck

Sick up = really, really good

Hodge = totally rubbish

You’re bear jarring me man = you’re annoying me somewhat old chum

Wow. Just…wow. = I am so appalled that I am lost for words

Boom! = Trolled! = Zing! = Burn! = I feel for you, as you have just been bested in a verbal joust

Feds = Police

Gee/G =Star = Abbreviation of Gangster YOLO. You only live once (innit)

SMH = Shake my head

Gyaliss = A person who has a lot of female attention

Wifey = girlfriend

Crud= basically crap

Buff = attractive Tank = someone who’s very large, strong and fit or a verb meaning do something very well

Yoked = muscular/well built

Gash = girls

Wasteman = idiot/fool (male)

Wastegash = idiot/fool (female)

ISIT? = oh really?

Peng = attractive

Fam/blud = good friend

Bate = obvious

Dutty = nasty

Skeen = ok, agreed

Safe = ok, agreed, trustworthy

Long = boring, repetitive, far

Badman = thug

Also, end sentences with the word ‘much’, as in ‘nice hair, much’.

There’s nothing like teen slang to make you feel old but by no means do teenagers use all or ‘much’ of this. There are favourites, there are variations and there are those who don’t use it  at all. The ones I hear used most are ‘much’, ‘cool story bro’, FAF, LOL, ‘epic’ – as in amazing, LMFAO (laugh my f***ing ass off) etc.

It’s not so much language as concept that causes the divide between parents and teenagers. We think differently. Teenagers are much more pragmatic, matter of fact; accepting of fact. Parents are into the ‘whys’ and ‘wherefores’ and ‘how it looks’, as Lily exasperatedly points out about her mother. Take that as a constant and you start reducing the gap.

Adults tend to think their children are always in the wrong or unknowledgeable. They believe their own extra years give them wisdom and maturity beyond that of ‘the callow youth’, whereas often they simply give them barriers to overcome. We’ve all heard the overworked phrase ‘baggage’, but that’s precisely what adults have – as well as experience.  Isn’t it so much easier to walk somewhere without a big bag of ‘stuff’ to carry? Without the ‘stuff’ you’re a teenager, with it, you’re an adult; disappointments, rejections, failures, disillusionments, attitudes – it’s all ‘stuff’ you’ve gathered along the way to maturity. Sometimes it also generates more ‘stuff’ of its own – as with my killer in Webs.

Of course teenagers have ‘stuff’ too, but it’s more generalised ‘stuff’. The ‘stuff’ the media, advertising, peer pressure and so on, forces on them. It’s far less personal and far more generational than adult baggage – and usually easier discarded, with the right baggage handlers’ help. But as with all points of a triangle, the view from one is very different to the view from another. That’s why Lily, Robin and the killer all see the various actions and attitudes of each other from such wildly different angles that clash, counter-clash and collapse occur. As with everything, communication is the key – certainly between Lily and Robin – or the lack of it.

I hope you’ll enjoy seeing into my teenagers mind because my next blog is a little bit of Lily; enjoy …

Webs - front cover

Webs is due to be released summer 2014 by Pen Press.

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