How Do You Decode Today’s Millennialspeak?

Every week, Preen tackles motherhood sans the rose-tinted glasses. Our columnists L. Juliano, Marla Darwin, Monica Eleazar-Manzano, and Rossana Unson tell their personal experiences like it is—at times frustrating, oftentimes confusing, but always enlightening.

There seems to be a whole new language out there I know nothing about. I suspected this before but I got confirmation of it a few months back when my nephew came up to me after my daughter’s 21st birthday party to tell me in wonder that one of her friends who was sitting beside him that evening told him she was “low-key sleepy.”

He was shaking his head in bewilderment and repeating to himself amusedly, “Low-key sleepy!” I just stared at him like he had just uttered something in ancient Latin.

“Low-key? Maybe she meant ‘Loki’ Thor’s brother?” I asked him, hoping I was right, but the look of despair he gave me was obviously not a confirmation of my very stupid conclusion about this newfound adjective. It was like discovering a new cell that can possibly cause the annihilation of the entire human race in a decade or two.

Then I heard my daughter herself use the same term just a few weeks after her birthday party. “I’m low-key worried about how my thesis is going, Mama,” she told me in a very serious tone at dinner.

Of course, I didn’t hear the whole sentence I just heard the words “low-key” and asked, what I’m sure everyone over 35 who’s heard the term has also asked, “What the hell does ‘low-key’ mean?”

“Well, low-key is like you are but you aren’t totally. You’re just sorta kinda. But ‘sorta’ and ‘kinda’ are…old people words. So low-key, you know?”

I was confused “AF.”

Which is another term I just don’t get. Apparently, when you’re really really feeling something or being something (confused, pissed, down, broke) you are that way “as f*ck”. Why not “AS” or “as sh*t” or what we “old people” use more often AH “as hell”? Because I guess “f*ck” is the utmost superlative a person can be these days! So remember the formula: if you’re fantastically something, you must be that something “AF.”

Then there’s “shookt.” I really have no idea why anyone would think using a completely gramatically incorrect word like this is okay. Shouldn’t it be “shaken”? I don’t think James Bond could ever want his Martini, “shookt, not stirred” or would he? Perhaps if this were the case, James Bond would be in the 19-25 year old age range. For those of you who aren’t in the know, “shookt” means that you’re really affected. It means you’re shaken up by it…thus, you’re shookt. Use in a sentence?

“The movie had me shookt af! I’m low-key crying.”

Just typing this is bringing me to tears of despair and more than high-key irritation. What are they doing to the English language?

Another term in the millennialspeak dictionary is “rekt.” Use in a sentence? “I drank a whole bottle of Jack Daniels…I am so rekt.” Then there’s “fam” short for family which is a term you use to refer to a close friend. Like saying “dude” except you call them “fam” instead. “I gotchu, fam,” meaning “I have your back.”

“Bless up” is a term very similar to “God bless.” Like, “Free cut for History today!” to which the reply wil be….you got it, “Bless up!”

At this point, I’m not even sure if the use of these…words…depend on which school one is studying in or they are really the words of the whole generation. On one hand I have the low-key college student millenials and then I have the co-worker millenials who use terms such as “chos,” “char,” “kaloka,” and “keribels.”

As a Gen X-er, oftentimes these words that are used so often and so casually sound like nails scatching a blackboard (“Are there still blackboards out there? Aren’t they using LCD screens in classrooms these days or tablets?” my get-with-the-times self asks.) but using them and knowing what they mean are a totally different ballgame. I prefer the latter to the former to maintain my dignity and self-respect.

So I just sit here as I type this and think, WTH! There’s so much IDK.


Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.


Art by Dorothy Guya 

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