Fresh into a new year, it’s always good to look back at years past and how times have changed. This week we’re reading Allan Metcalf’s From Skedaddle to Selfie: Words of the Generations, which takes a lighthearted linguistic approach to analyzing our generational divides. The book starts with the jargon of the American Revolution to the post-Millennial crowd.
“Metcalf’s history skedaddles and jitterbugs quite swiftly through the 20th-century generations, pausing briefly to explain “babysitters” and “necking and petting” and “sexy”, the great transformation of the word “gay” and the meaning of the shift from “hi” to “hey”. Generation Y, fittingly, is generation abbrev: YOLO, LOL, FOMO are all hashtagged here,” writes The Guardian.
Metcalf is no stranger to language history: in 2010, he wrote an entire book on the word “OK” (OK: The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word).
“To read his account, in which each term gets a brief commentary on how a particular generation characteristically invented it or repurposed an older one, is to be persuaded that he has heard the echoes of America’s past and present,” says the Baltimore Sun of Metcalf’s latest book.