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Rob Jenkins - 08/02/09
Speaking young adult is a must for grown-up Facebookers

If you like to spend your leisure hours prowling Facebook, as a startling number of grownups apparently do these days - and not just perverts, either - you're going to have to learn how to speak young adult.

In this regard I can perhaps be of some assistance. As a parent of three (soon to be four) teenagers, and as someone who works with young people every day, I have, like Jane Goodall and her chimps, spent considerable time observing this species in its natural habitat. Fascinatingly, it appears that they can communicate with each other in a rudimentary fashion.

For example, a young man we know is traveling outside the country and apparently hasn't called home in a while. His younger brother recently posted the following on the prodigal's Facebook page:

"Sup bra. Yo you best be callin home dog. MND is trippin! Gangsta out."

Now, contrary to what you might think, this is actually a fairly complex form of communication, indicating high-level cognitive ability or at least social networking skills. It's just a question of interpretation. Let's break it down, word by word.

"Sup." This is not used here as a verb, meaning "to partake of the evening meal." Rather, it's a standard salutation, a contraction of "What's up?" In other words, "How are you?"

"Bra." I know what you're wondering: why would one guy refer to another as a female undergarment? That's because you don't understand that this word is actually "bro," short for "brother."

In a development reminiscent of the Great Vowel Shift of the 15th century, the letter "o" has lately come to be pronounced "ah." I don't know why. Maybe adolescent guys just want an excuse to talk about female undergarments.

"Yo." Another standard salutation, which basically means "hey." It can also mean "what do you want?" "present," and "sup."

"Dog." Believe it or not, this is a term of endearment, or at least a common way of referring to other males.

When I was a young adult, we generally called each other "man," as in "hey, man" or "man, you shoulda been there." Today, our male children call each other "dog," thereby reducing humans to the level of canines. I predict that if this trend continues, future generations of young men will be referring to each other as single-celled organisms: "Yo, sup amoeba!"

"MND." That's easy: "Mom and Dad." Or maybe "mad new doctor"? "Mobile nuclear device"?

"Trippin." This term, interestingly, harks back to the '60's, although it no longer literally means the experience of using LSD but rather a state of altered consciousness caused by having teenagers.

"Gangsta." Someone who is, aspires to be, or pretends to be a member of a street gang, even if he lives someplace where the streets have names like "Hummingbird Court" and "Babbling Brook Place."

"Out." What I am right now. Dog.