• Debasement Is Not Just a Damp Room Under Your House

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    When I opened
    my Sunday New York Times to a story on Derek Jeter this week
    I was stumped from the first word. I had to ask my daughter to define
    OMG. "I use it all the time," she said. "Where have
    you been?"

    "Oh my
    God," I reminded her. "In France."

    Visitors, foreign
    and American-born, are finding communication increasingly difficult
    as catchwords proliferate. Often they seem to come from the schoolyard.

    Just how debased
    can the English language become and still be called English? I pondered
    this question as I attempted to function in the U.S. after living
    an extended period in Europe.

    The day before
    my OMG experience, an angry motorist in Boston wanted to share his
    opinion of my driving skills. He held up his right hand to his forehead
    and formed an "L" with his thumb and index finger extended.
    "Loser," my 12-year-old grandson translated. As I grumbled
    unintelligibly, my grandson held up three fingers and rotated his
    hand to the left. The "W" became an "E", shorthand
    for "whatever."

    I assume American
    adults will be doing the "whatever" sign to each other
    eventually, just as they picked up the l-word. ("Whatever"
    as a spoken word regrettably seems here to stay.)

    Kids used to
    borrow language from adults. Now the opposite is happening. Is this
    country regressing?

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    the rest of the article

    September
    23, 2010

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