Woteva: Understanding how young people communicate

I have recently started a subscription to SAGA magazine. I have to admit that it has proved very much more interesting and enjoyable to read in my retirement than I would ever have imagined in my working days.

In the January edition they were promoting a new App for the iPhone called “Woteva“. This is an app that sets out to give instant translation and information for perplexed adults about the language used by their teenage offspring/relatives/charges.

I read a few of the translations in the article by Emma Soames. I was blissfully unaware that a chunder bunny was a young woman who drinks too much, that boydem is the police or chung is a pretty girl! I realised reading this that I have little knowledge of their language and indeed of their world.

It led me to do some research on the net about the use of slang by young people. It is not just in the way that they speak to each other that slang plays such an important part. They have created a form of language which is usually abbreviations and the use of various common symbols when they are communicating with each other by using text or in sending e-mails. This language has been given the term “netspeak”.

I found an excellent site called No Slang which has a translator English/slang a dictionary as well as some really interesting articles.

I feel that this is a really good opportunity for us adults to make an attempt to understand our children’s world in their terms. It follows the same path as learning a foreign language in order to begin to understand how other people think and feel. But, as in foreign language acquisition, there is more to understanding than just being able to decode. It is necessary to try and understand the culture.

Our children have developed a culture of their own which, in the digital age, is about social networking and is related to their view of the world as interpreted by pop culture (the songs, the clothes, the look) and their growing interest in each other ( sex plays a part because the hormones dictate at that phase of existence).

Understanding does not mean agreeing or promoting but it helps to create a bridge for discussion that is so often lacking in a world where we just don’t get what they are on about. How wonderful to see an organisation such as SAGA developing an APP for the older person to understand the younger generation in their terms. If anyone from their organisation is reading this can t you please  do  an Android version for us non-Apple people!


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