Everything Language and Grammar

Tween a Rock and a Made-Up Word

Posted by languageandgrammar on May 20, 2011

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever

Using overly trendy language can lead to all sorts of problems, such as lengthy conversations and  strained relationships. To make my point, here is a hypothetical conversation between a mom who thinks she’s hip and a friend who prefers to use normal language:

Mom: “I don’t know what to do. Now that Sarah is a tween, she’s getting more difficult to handle.”

Friend: “Sarah is 13 already? I thought she was 11. I thought her 10th birthday was just last year.”

Friend (agitated and concerned) continues: Geez. I’m getting old fast. Maybe it’s dementia. I’ve got to see a doctor.”

Mom: “No! She’s 11, not 13. Why do you think she’s 13?

Friend: “Because you just said she’s a teen!”

Mom: “I didn’t say that! Aren’t you listening?”

Friend: “Oh my God. It’s worse than I thought. Now, I’m hearing things. I could have sworn you said that Sarah is a teen. Maybe I can call Dr. Phil or Dr. Drew.”

Mom: “No, I said ‘tween,’ not ‘teen.”

Friend: “Dr. Oz. I like Dr. Oz. He can help me. Yeah, Dr. Oz.”

Friend (catching up to the conversation):”Tween?!?!? What the CENSORED does that mean?”

Mom: “There’s no need for that tone. A tween someone who’s not yet a teenager but isn’t exactly a child, either.”

Friend (laughing): “Oh, so you meant to say pre-teen, but you accidentally invented a new “word.” That’s funny.”

Mom: “I didn’t make it up. Everyone is saying it. It’s either tween or tweenager.”

Friend: “No–not everyone. That’s stupid. I call them ‘pre-teens’ like I always have–and so does everyone else I know.”

Mom: “Well, you don’t have to call me stupid. You’re the one who doesn’t know the new words.”

Friend: “It’s not a word. The only time I’ve ever heard tween was when someone was too lazy to say between.”

Don’t let this happen to you!

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