Teenage girls have led language innovation for centuries
Teenage girls have led language innovation for centuries (Thinkstock)
Teenage girls have led language innovation for centuries
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Criticizing teenage girls for the way they speak is nothing short of a time-honored tradition for adults who take issue with everything from slang to vocal fry. But Quartz's Gretchen McCulloch has a bone to pick with those critics. She argues that female teen linguists should be lauded for their longtime innovation - they've been shaking things up for centuries.
 
McCulloch argues that female teenagers are actually "language disruptors" - innovators who invent words that make their way into the vernacular.
 
"To use a modern metaphor, young women are the Uber of language," she writes.

William Shakespeare has long been seen as the poster boy for introducing words into the English language, though some have questioned his celebrated language disruptor status. But young women may have been the true linguistic revolutionaries of Shakespeare's day. McCulloch notes that in the 2003 book Historical Sociolinguistics, University of Helsinki linguists Terttu Nevalainen and Helena Raumolin-Brunberg surveyed 6,000 letters from 1417 to 1681. They found that female letter-writers changed the way they wrote faster than male letter-writers, spearheading the adoption of new words and discarding words like "doth" and "maketh."
 
Women are consistently responsible for about 90 percent of linguistic changes today, writes McCulloch. Why do women lead the way with language? Linguists aren't really sure. Women may have greater social awareness, bigger social networks or even a neurobiological leg up. There are some clues to why men lag behind: A 2009 study estimated that when it comes to changing language patterns, men trail by about a generation.
 
That's largely due to adult male blowback against female stereotypes in speech (think vocal fry or uptalk) and the fact that, in the past, females have traditionally taken care of children, as Chi Luu wrote for JSTOR Daily in February. Thus, men learn from their mothers and women tend to learn new lingo from other women.
 
Though Gretchen Wieners was never able to make "fetch" happen, it's clear that women have been revolutionizing language for a long time. Not bad for a group of kids that get lots of flak for adopting new lingo.

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/teen/teenage-girls-have-led-language-innovation-centuries/

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How are metaphors used in this article?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (67)
  • averyb-2-glo
    9/03/2015 - 12:27 p.m.

    Metaphors are used in this article by Gretchen McCulloch who says that "Young women are the Uber of language," This means that teenage girls are the inventors of today's modern language and that people should not judge girls so much for using slang and using new words.

  • katiev-1-glo
    9/03/2015 - 12:29 p.m.

    Metaphor are used in this article to convey a message or state a point. For example it says, "McCulloch argues that female teenagers are actually 'language disruptors'". She is comparing female teenagers to 'language disrupters' without using like or as. This article was very interesting to me because she highlighted the stereotypes that teen girls face; even though they change how we speak in the future.

  • mennaj-2-glo
    9/03/2015 - 12:32 p.m.

    Metaphors are used in this article when they say in the first paragraph that "Gretchen McCulloch has a bone to pick with those critics." There are also many more examples. They use metaphors in this article to make it more interesting. I liked this article a lot because it related to me and it was cool to read about the history of words.

  • erins-3-glo
    9/03/2015 - 12:34 p.m.

    Metaphors are used in this article to help emphasize the change and creativity that girls have used while developing their own form of language. It also shows that we are the cause of a change that has occurred for hundred of years. I personally think that we shouldn't make it so that our parents allow us to make up new words because them wanting us to stop has caused us to want to continue to break their rules.

  • perlal-1-glo
    9/03/2015 - 12:34 p.m.

    Metaphors are used in this article to emphasize how girls have changed and revolutionized modern language. Girls, over the centuries have impacted our vocabulary and speech. They are innovating and leading our language everyday.

  • kalih-2-glo
    9/03/2015 - 12:38 p.m.

    How are metaphors used in this article?

    The author uses metaphors in one example to relate more to modern day as one might want to say. She said "Young women are the Uber of language". Uber is a very popular car service that helps people get around and provides car rides for many people. It benefits the person driving because they get money, and the person on the other end gets a very convenient ride. I think this metaphor was meant to say that young women are what helps new language get around.

  • carab-cam
    9/22/2015 - 01:19 p.m.

    I think that it is wrong that girls should be criticized because of how they speak. As the article said, girls are "innovators who invent words that make their way into the vernacular." I think that this essay has a valid point, that girls make up a lot of new words that everyday people use. I see that happening at my school. This article also talks about the power of language. It shows how language is very important in everyday life. Language helps us express our feelings and our emotions. Language is always changing, and girls are a big part of it.

  • elinap-cam
    9/22/2015 - 01:34 p.m.

    Wow! I can't believe that over so many years they have lauded boys but now it has shown that we are the ones coming up with the new types of words. I know from experience that sometimes my friends can make up new words or phrases,sometimes I make random phrases or words too.

  • ismaelm2-cam
    9/22/2015 - 01:36 p.m.

    I can't believe that all these years I could say that us boys could have made up so much of the world today, but now I know that we should give some credit to the girls that have also made up some of our words.

  • ravend-bag
    9/27/2015 - 06:56 p.m.

    Metaphors are used in this article to kind of describe what women can do with our language.

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