I have a weird question for people who know children… that is either you have your own or you just hang out with anyone… I dunno… age five through fifteen or so… often enough to notice the way they speak (nieces, siblings, just random friends, whatever). I was just talking with some friends about the language constructs that are specifically natural with your Generation Z kids than previous generations. Specifically speaking in internet lingo as a substitute for swearing. That is to say, I know twelve year olds who literally say “oh emm gee” instead of “oh my god” or “dubya tee eff” instead of “what the fuck?” the same way that when I was a kid we might have said “oh my gosh” or “what the frick” or whatever… at least when we were around adults that we might get in trouble for cursing in front of.
But… it at least feels to me (with casual observation that I haven’t thought about for more than the last 5 minutes). That the adoption of those terms is nigh complete and automatic. Like I have certainly said those things intentionally, but when I do, I’m doing it on purpose and totally consciously. I know I’ve heard my niece say “oh emm gee” spontaneously where I don’t think she’s really thinking about it. I don’t think she’s cleaning up her language. I think texting has just existed since she was born and that’s just how she talks. It’s also natural for her to say “Lols” like it’s a normal word and that’s not even replacing profanity.
So I’m wondering… do people in general notice kids talking like this? “Oh emm gee” and “dubya tee eff” are the two that immediately came to mind for me. But there may be others.
Also, since I know a bunch of academics. I’m wondering if any of my friends who study language, linguistics, psychology or semiology have thoughts as to at what point this becomes natural and ingrained in the normal speech patterns. Like, I don’t really say “gosh” or “frick” anymore… because I’m a grownup and no one fucking cares if I swear. I certainly don’t do it spontaneously. But in 2025, are we going to have a bunch of adults who literally yell out “oh emm gee!!!” when they bang their knee or have an orgasm? Can it become that much a part of natural expression for the generation who is just raised to speak that way?
Maybe there’s a paper in this… or at least maybe and episode of VoxPopcast.