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TWTS: Learning new slang is good "for the plot"

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Every so often, we here at That's What They Say must confront the reality that we are no longer considered "youth" and therefore not always up to date on what the kids are saying.

Addressing this limitation helps us avoid cringey situations, such as calling something "on fleek" a decade too late. Also, it gives us the opportunity to dazzle less trendy peers with our keen awareness of the latest cultural trends.

Be advised, this strategy is effective solely among your peers. Attempts to use cool new lingo in the presence of actual youth will likely be met with scorn and create an even wider schism between their perception of what's cool and you. Come to think of it, so will using the term "lingo."

Fortunately, Professor Anne Curzan has a direct line to youth culture via her students. One of her favorite course activities is to ask them to teach her new slang terms, a request they meet with gusto.

This is how we learned about "for the plot."

There are several ways to use this phrase, one of which is to convince yourself to do something hard or scary. For example, maybe there's someone you're interested in dating, but the thought of asking them out makes your palms sweat. This is when you tell yourself to do it "for the plot," because regardless of what happens, it'll be an interesting moment in your life.

We love the way in which this phrase approaches life as a narrative, casting you as the main character. Much to our delight, we found there's a collection of slang phrases that function on a meta level, applying to life as a grand narrative.

To hear about "unlock (or drop) the lore," "main character moments," and "canon events," listen to the audio above.

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Rebecca Kruth is the host of All Things Considered at Michigan Public. She also co-hosts Michigan Public's weekly language podcast That’s What They Say with English professor Anne Curzan.
Anne Curzan is the Geneva Smitherman Collegiate Professor of English and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. She also holds faculty appointments in the Department of Linguistics and the School of Education.