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We celebrate youth and their language

Young people walk through the streets. You can hear and recognise them: by their often not quite mature voices and by their use of language. Sometimes these are words that adults have not yet heard. But what exactly distinguishes youth language? What makes it so unique and distinctive? And what do Goethe and Schiller have to do with it?

Read this article in: Deutsch, English

Estimated reading time:2minutes

Supra-regional and generation-specific

In contrast to dialects, youth language is a supra-regional phenomenon. However, this does not mean that dialectal expressions do not also flow into each region. Youth language cannot be uniformly defined and cannot always be clearly distinguished from "normal" everyday language. However, one thing is certain: it is the youth who shape the youth language and usually only use it among themselves. For this reason, youth language is a sociolect. Hardly any pupil would speak to a teacher in the same way as to friends.  Furthermore, it is certain that youth language is very dynamic and always changing, because puberty is finite. Young people grow up and new generations of young people come along. So it also happens that expressions of youth language find their way into "adult language". In German, the word "cool" is an example of this. 

How do they achieve a supra-regional imprint?

Today, a supra-regional imprint succeeds through television or new media of any kind. In the past, it was the literature of young people that shaped the language use of their generation. Goethe and Schiller, for example, were successful writers who shaped the language of their contemporaries from the Sturm und Drang period. Youth language is therefore not a modern phenomenon. 

Language as part of identity

It is certainly known that language is a part of identity. For this reason, for example, many people cultivate their dialects. It is no different with youth language. It is also part of youth identity and a clear demarcation from adults. Therefore, youth language is part of growing up and belongs to it. 

Sometimes you also hear adults nostalgically saying: "In my youth they said such and such."

Creativity and language play in youth language using the example of French Verlan

Young people use language in different languages. This can be quite creative. One example is the French Verlan, which is perhaps not so young anymore. 

Originally conceived as a secret language, the verlan became very popular with Renaud's chanson "Laisse béton". A characteristic of the verlan is the inversion of the syllables. In the example above, this means that "tomber" became "béton". 

Which expressions do you know from your youth? 




Sources: (10.08.2022, 09:17) (10.08.2022, 09:34) (10.08.2022, 09:34)


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