Lost in all that lingo

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  • Friday, 04 Oct 2013

The use of mind-boggling phrases by today’s young is enough to make one feel old

I RECENTLY started my own film production company, so despite feeling the heat of having a wee bit more on my already full plate, I am grateful for the opportunity and the trust given. Most of all, I am appreciative of my crew and talents — the “young blood” surrounding me — who have given me a rejuvenated approach to life with their fresh insights, innocent but witty remarks and outrageous slangs and hashtags.

I was posting some pictures of them on my Instagram and they started commenting:

“Oh come on (cringe) Aunty/Madam Daphne! You ain’t got swag if you don’t #yolo!”

Hashtag YOLO?

What in the world is that? Why hashtag a ‘hollow screaming sound’?

And fine, I can tolerate being called “Aunty”, but “Madam Daphne” makes me feel so… old.

Growing up, I was not a rebel per se. I would like to think that I was adventurous and up-to-date on the latest games, songs and fashion, and quite the trendsetter in high school (I wince now, but I truly believed that having mini, colourful towels peeking out from my school pinafore pocket was so cool). In university, I was the only female student riding a huge motorbike to class, I could beat anyone who dared me on the Pool table and I was a regular at Modesto’s.

(To the noobs: Modesto’s was my era’s equivalent to Zouk Club)

So here I am, 15 years later trying to catch up with these “millennials” — with their fancy gadgets, mind-boggling phrase and feeling very old because they are referring to me as a “madam” on a filming location.

My husband consoles me.

“It shows they respect you as their boss, love.”

I was not convinced.

I decided on Day 3 of filming, I was going to be the ‘swagger’ and not just the aunty/madam boss.

“But (cringe) Madam Daphne, swagger is a move not an attitude. You can be either YOLO or SWAG, but since you’re an awesome boss, you can be both!”

“Yes! And we can hashtag you as our #yoloswag boss!” chimes another freelance crew of mine.

I finally chiseled my pride to ask what YOLO meant and was slightly annoyed to find out that it was the abbreviation for “you only live once”.

The “Oh-My-English” in me emerged.

“Kristen, grammatically I can’t be a YOLO, because I can’t be a “You-Only-Live-Once” !”

“Yes but that’s the SWAG part of it (cringe) Aunty Daphne…you can use it for almost anything! It’s actually a dumb excuse for something stupid you do!”

I was confused as ever. How could THAT be a good thing?

Hold on. SWAG means groovy right?

“O-M-Geeee (cringe) Madam Daphne! Groovy is for old farts. SWAG is waaaaay cooler.”

I took a deep breath as one of my assistants chides in.

“ Actually, S.W.A.G is an acronym of “Secretly We are Gay””

I answer, “As in Happy or…?”

And they all shout in a chorus; “AUNTY/MADAM DAPHNE?!!! Like totally #D-U-H!”

My husband observes from the sideline and giggles with the commotion.

Even more puzzled, I decided to go online to find out more about all these new terms to get a better understanding of the words, not because I wanted to try and talk like someone I was not, but rather to understand a piece of youth culture today.

#LOL #YeahRight

I was tickled by the results online. Now, you have a range of great resources to check TEXT slangs like LOL (It’s not “Lots of Love” by the way (BTW)). And then there is this site where you can learn how to create conversations with any teenager of this era. You can even purchase a book that provides over 300 questions from “slanguage”, to get kids talking, laughing, debating and thinking; supposedly ideal for parents who have trouble communicating with their kids.


This was way too much for a “noob” like me to comprehend during my third day of filming. I decided to call it a day as both producer and a #yoloswag wannabe.

Yes, this Aunty/Madam still finds it groovy that she can dance to real disco (and not club) music that has actual lyrics you can sing to when dancing. I still enjoy licking my stamps and pasting them on the greeting cards envelope, before mailing them across a week or two in advance to its recipient. I find signing off “Love always and God bless” in neat handwriting has a more personal touch than just a mere SMS with “Hepi B’day. GBU xoxo” — albeit the cute emoticon that accompanies it and finally, I like the fact that my instagram posts have proper sentences to describe the photo loaded and not just hashtags everywhere.

It is perfectly okay not to understand the Millennials and their idiosyncrasies; and accepting that times are a changing — because you only live once.

If Daphne had to choose one unYOLO peeve of hers, it would be the recent proposal by mufti Aziz Jaafar for a programme to “Malaynise” the state’s non-Malay Bumiputera Muslims. “How unSWAG”. Follow Daphne’s rants on her instagram: Daphne Iking.

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