||Jonathan's Resource Ezine
Weekly Resources, Ideas and Articles from The Source for Youth Ministry
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
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Featured Article: Keeping Up With Youth Culture and the Language Kids Use
The following article is the introduction to Jonathan and Fred's
new book What's a Fo' Sheezy?
KEEPING UP WITH YOUTH CULTURE
...and the Language Kids Use
I'll never forget sitting next to a youth pastor at a camp when one of his student leaders
mounted the platform to give his testimony...wearing a T-shirt with the number 420 on the
front. As the kid started sharing his story, I leaned over to the youth pastor and
sarcastically whispered, "Nice T-shirt."
The youth pastor looked at me, confused, and replied, "What do you mean?"
He had no idea. Don't feel alone if you don't, either.
It's increasingly difficult to keep up with the ever-changing youth culture and the slanguage
kids use. (The American Heritage Dictionary defines slanguage as "language marked by
the use of slang.") Regardless of how silly it is, regardless of how much you like or don't
like it...kids still use it. Sometimes they use it as a secret code of sorts to stay under
adult radar screens. Others just use slanguage because it's catchy, and every cable- TV show
they watch uses the terms.
420 was one of those obscure, "under the radar" terms for a while. It's basically defined as
the time to smoke pot, but it's come to mean everything from the act of smoking to the stuff
that's smoked. But because more than 90 percent of people DON'T know what 420 means, it's
become a code people use to identify and talk with each other without outsiders knowing.
It's likely that many of us aren't excited about learning slang terms for drug use or sexual
activity. But let's face it: We WOULD want to know if the kid standing in front of our youth
group is "preaching" smoking pot. It's in these moments that we probably wish we'd at least
kept our thumbs on the pulse of youth culture.
I'll never forget when I first heard the word tight. It was more than a decade ago. A
student was talking about a teacher and said, "He's tight." Two decades ago that would've
meant the teacher was way too strict or unfair. But a decade ago it was a good thing. This
teacher was very good-"tight," in fact. Five years ago this teacher would've been "off the
hook" and then more recently "pimpin'" or "bangin'."
It's hard to keep up! Where are these words coming from?
One source is the variety of English known as African American Vernacular English (AAVE),
Black English, or Ebonics. This dialect has greatly influenced teenage vocabulary, crossing
racial and socioeconomic lines to the point where speech stereotypes have now become blurry
in many communities. White-dominated schools are full of students passing each other in the
hallway, uttering phrases such as "What's crackin', my nephew?" And the reply: "Not much,
dawg-we 'bout to roll out to lunch!"
The media has been one of the greatest influences of slanguage over the last 20 years,
pushing it into the mainstream through media such as MTV. And this isn't just affecting
students who listen to gangsta rap and hip-hop. MTV crosses racial and socioeconomic lines,
reaching the inner city and the ?burbs, influencing Caucasians, Hispanics, African Americans,
Asians (and every other color), and affecting jocks, gangstas, skaters, and the kids who sit
alone at lunch. Whether it's Justin Timberlake, Eminem, Ludacris, the Black Eyed Peas, or
even the Pussycat Dolls, popular artists of all colors and genres are influencing all of our
students with new terms every day-and the lingo is pretty much the same thing.
While some of these speech influences are innocent, the product MTV sends us begs for an "R"
rating. Many of the terms are about sex, drugs, cruising, and partying as well as derogatory
titles for each gender.
And slanguage isn't affecting students only-it's also influencing language used by adults.
Monday Night Football commentary is filled with "shout outs" to relatives and friends
at home. (A "shout out" is a simple "hello" or recognition of important others.) On September
11, 2001, United flight 93 victim Todd Beamer spoke his now-famous departing words, "Let's
roll"-also the title of his wife's best-selling book. And while let's roll, a slanguage term
meaning "Let's go!" isn't in the dictionary on your shelf, it's used daily by a growingnumber
of teenagers and adults.
In fact, the meanings of words adults use every day are changing, too. Many people don't
believe it, but check it out for yourself: Is the following sentence grammatically correct?
"Do not disrespect your mom."
Pretty straightforward. Nothing wrong here, correct? The word disrespect is used as
But the dictionary on your shelf-unless it's very new-probably doesn't list disrespect as a
verb. Most dictionaries list disrespect as a noun and disrespectful as an
adjective. But nowadays the word disrespect is commonly used as a verb because of the growing
use of the term dis, which is slang for "to show disrespect." So it's not uncommon to hear
someone say, "Don't you disrespect me!"
Our language is changing as youth culture is changing. And at the top of the pyramid,
before it trickles down into everyday language, slanguage is changing, too. Whether or not
we like slanguage, it's beneficial to know the vocabulary of the generation we're trying to
Our hope is that this book not only will educate you about some of the most popular, current
terms of this generation but also will provide springboards for discussion.
This new book, What's a Fo' Sheezy? is not just a dictionary of
current slanguage definitions... it's much more. This popular new book is a collection of
topical discussions about relevant issues in youth culture. Check out what people are
already saying about this new resource:
A GREAT RESOURCE TO
GET TEENAGERS TALKING,
LAUGHING, DEBATING, AND THINKING
What's a Fo' Sheezy?
More Than 300 Questions from Slanguage to Get
Youth Specialties' brand new book by Jonathan McKee & Fred Lynch
Larry Acosta says it well:
"In a time where so few are willing to ?keep up' with
"What's a Fo' Sheezy" is also recommended by Chap Clark, Josh McDowell, Les Christie,
Chris Hill, Walt Mueller, Efrem Smith, Greg Stier and more...
the ever-changing landscape of youth culture, Fred and
Jonathan help us decipher many of the words, terms,
slogans, and crazy sayings that our youth use today.
"What's a Fo' Sheezy?" is a creative book that will get
teenagers and you communicating."
-Larry Acosta, president, Urban Youth Workers Institute
CLICK HERE TO BUY
Something You Can Use This Week: Battle of the Generations-from our totally revamped Games & Icebreakers Page
The Source Games & Icebreakers page
has been totally revamped.
THE SOURCE game-masters David and Sonja have been working overtime
revamping our game page. They have added a ton of new games (which are highlighted on the top
of each individual games page) and even added a few new selections for the custom search. Thanks
to our game masters, our list is a little more polished than it was before.
Check out this great new UP FRONT GAME from
THE SOURCE game-masters!
Battle of the Generations
Note: This game works best with some sort of screen projection (a video projector is best,
but even overhead projectors could work). If you don't have access to a projector, no worries;
you'll just have to use questions without visuals.
This is a great Up Front Game for parents or adult leaders to square off against students.
We did it with our adult leaders. A group of 4 students and 4 adult leaders (8 total) were chosen
at the opening of our event. They came up on stage and were read the rules. Adult leader "A" would
play against Student "A." Adult leader "B" would square off against Student "B" and so on.
The game leader then reads a question to "Adult Leader A" that has to do with today's generation.
The adult leader must get it right, or risk a pie in the face. Let's say the adult leader gets it
right, the game leader would then read a question to "Student A" about the adult leader's
generation (usually the 70's). The student must get it right or risk a pie in the face.
Now, let's say that the adult leader gets the question wrong. The student squaring off against
him MUST know the right answer to be able to pie the adult leader in the face. The same is true
for the student. (This kind of operates like volleyball... you have to be in control to score.)
Here's an example of how the game is played: One question the game leader asked "Student A" was,
"What kind of jacket is pictured here?" (On the screen we had the ever-so-sought-after
Member's Only brand name jacket pictured.) "Student A" missed the question and was at
risk of being pied in the face. However, "Adult Leader A" also missed the question, so nothing
For the exact same competitors, the tables were turned. The game leader asked "Adult Leader A",
"Exactly which game console is pictured here?" (On the screen we had a Nintendo DS Lite pictured.)
The adult leader did NOT know the answer, but the student did! The student gets to pie the adult
leader, BUT NOT YET!!!
This process repeats for the other three competitors. A suggestion: save all of the pies until
the end. If both "Adult Leader A" and "Student A" are supposed to get pied, you don't want one
of them to have to make a bathroom run in the middle of your game to get cleaned up enough to pie
someone else in the face. Save all of the consequences for the end.
If you decide to develop your own questions, it's fun to get some kids to help you develop them.
Just make sure that it's no one that will be involved playing the game.
Here are some suggestions for VISUAL QUESTIONS for each generation:
Questions STUDENTS ASK ADULTS
- Specifically, which game console is pictured here? (Nintendo DS Lite)
- What is the name of this band? (Black Eyed Peas)
- What is the name of this comedian? (Borat)
- In IM or text messaging, BRB, PIR, and TTYL are each short for something. What?
(Be Right Back, Parent in Room, and Talk To You Later... see
www.noslang.com for more examples)
Questions ADULTS ASK STUDENTS
If you don't have a projector, here are some suggestions for NON-VISUAL QUESTIONS for each
- Who is this celebrity? (Goldie Hawn)
- What was the name of this TV show starring Tom Selleck? (Magnum PI)
- What is the name of this "hunk" from the early 80's? (Scott Baio)
- What brand name jacket is pictured here? (Member's Only)
Questions STUDENTS ASK ADULTS
- What is the name of the squirrel on Sponge Bob Square Pants (Sandy)
- What is Hilary Duff's sister's name? (Haylie)
- Who rapped with Usher in his old song Yeah! (Ludacris and Lil' Jon)
- In the movie Napoleon Dynamite, where does the Nurse keep her Chapsticks?
(in her top drawer)
Questions ADULTS ASK STUDENTS
- What fast food company ran the commercial with the old lady yelling WHERE'S THE BEEF? (Wendy's)
- According to the song by Tommy Tutone in 1982, what is Jenny's phone # (867-5309)
- Ginger, Professor, and MaryAnn all could be found on...? (Gilligan's Island)
- What 80's fashion style am I describing? "Business in the front, party in the back." (the Mullet)
1. You might want to design your questions for the age group of the adults that will be playing.
The above questions are geared toward someone born in the 1960's or 1970's.
2. I don't know why, but in most crowds you'll have a few people that love to yell out the answers.
Warn the crowd not to do it. I usually set the stage for a kid to be embarrassed if he decides to
yell out something. I might do this by saying, "Now every time we play this game, we have people
that try to prove their intelligence by yelling out answers. Guess what? The questions are easy!
So you aren't proving anything by yelling it out. So don't!" Then let the crowd know that if they
yell out the answers, they will lose points.
Reaching Out to the Unchurched Teenager Training: Looking for a training seminar for your volunteers? THE SOURCE is bringing this training to Eastern Pennsylvania and Detroit, Michigan.
Looking for an affordable training for you
and your volunteers? Check out this Saturday training seminar from THE SOURCE coming soon
in two U.S. cities
In addition to all the free resources on our website, we like to provide you with
recommendations of some budget items, like speakers, that are worth booking for your
March 17th, Jonathan is doing a Saturday workshop (9AM to 3PM) for youth workers
within driving distance of Eastern, PA. If you're a youth worker, paid or a volunteer, this
is for you!
Here's the details for this Pennsylvania training:
Saturday March 17, 2007, 9 AM to 3 PM
Rainbow's End Youth Services
105 Fairview Street
Mount Joy, PA 17552
- $20 (includes lunch)
- Only $10 (lunch Included) for paid pre-registration if paid on or before March 9, 2007
April 28th, Jonathan is doing a Saturday workshop (9AM to 3PM) for youth
workers within driving distance of Detroit, MI. If you're a youth worker, paid or a
volunteer, this is for you!
Here's the details for this Michigan training:
Saturday, April 28, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
WOULD YOU LIKE THIS TRAINING IN YOUR CITY?
- $15 at the door
- $10 early bird rate if registered by April 21st
CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION ON HOW TO
BRING THIS TRAINING TO YOUR AREA
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