Diss Goes Mainstream

It’s interesting to follow the progression of one generation’s trendy words as they spread into the more mainstream lexicon. The reason that the new generation started to create the new, trendy way of speaking was to separate themselves from the older generation, not so they would be imitated by the older crowd.

It seems as if the non-word diss, which is a trendy, slang way of talking about being treated in a disrespectful manner, such as He dissed me when he said I lied, may be on a path toward more widespread acceptance. On separate occasions in the past week, co-blogger Sherry Coven heard Chris Matthews, Andrea Mitchell, and Newt Gingrich each use diss on MSNBC when discussing politics. If these three don’t represent the older, more conservative generation from whom the younger people are trying to separate themselves, it’s hard to imagine who would.

When the new generation’s way of speaking is used by the older generation, the new generation often moves on to something else. And who could blame them; the last thing they want is for their parents to sound the same as they do. Also, it’s a problem for the older generation when they start to use the more youthful words. There weren’t too many people watching MSNBC who were thinking, “Gee, Chris and Andrea are in tune with the youth of today.” Some were probably thinking, “Is Andrea Mitchell trying to sound young? Please,” or, more likely, “Chis Matthews sounds ridiculous when he says diss.” Still others were saying, “What does diss mean?”

From a communication standpoint, the latter is the more serious problem when the words cross from the informal communication of the young to the more formal communication of the rest of the population, such as network television. Diss is not a word; therefore, many people don’t know what was trying to be communicated.


Paul’s book–Literally, the Best Language Book Ever;

Sherry’s Grammar List

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