Recently, it was revealed by the Hollywood press that actress Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband Chris Martin would no longer be a couple siting “we have agreed upon a Conscious Uncoupling.” Pardon my French, but WTF?! What the hell is a “conscious uncoupling”? Is this the latest term for breaking up or something you’d expect from a failed diesel rig? It seems that actresses and actors are putting a new spin on the common vernacular without a courtesy warning to the rest of us normal folk.
It’s bad enough that the couple have unleashed their conscious uncoupling onto the rest of humanity despite the fact that Paltrow and Martin have also been publicly calling each other on certain “extramarital activities” committed by both parties. This is a not-so-gentle slap to the face of the same public who had accepted the couple’s “open relationship” status a while back. We figured that this is Hollywood folk at their silliest and promiscuous selves. It begs me to ask how the hell anyone in an “open relationship” can accuse their partner of cheating. I hope I’m not the only one perplexed by this inconsistency….
I remember a simpler time when people called things by what they were and not by a randomly chosen metaphor. “Open relationship” to me means pre-approved foolin’ around. A “conscious uncoupling” at my school meant simply breakin’ up. I think you get me… or as we used to say get my drift. I’m not knocking (disputing) one person’s terminology over another. We create or change expressions according to the need or the generation who will apply those expressions. But there are exceptions.
Remember the controversial Ebonics legislation? It seems that back in 1996, the Oakland, California school board recognized Ebonics-more commonly referred to as ghetto speak- as a “distinct language most commonly used by the African-American community.” To better instruct both black and white students on a more equitable basis, the Oakland board adopted a resolution to teach both standard American English and Ebonics as part of their curriculum. (I swear-I’m not making this up.)
In 1997, self-proclaimed Ebonics creator Robert Williams testified before a Congressional subcommittee in Washington, D.C. His arguments included not only the differences in African-American speech, but the importance of applying Ebonics in all American classrooms. However, public furor over the controversial proposal soon struck down any hope of Ebonics being introduced into mainstream education. Opponents of the proposed “new language” began to circulate jokes that ultimately reduced the idea to nothing more than a bad memory. There are many websites available to educate anyone in the art of Ebonics, including (yes, I’m still not making this up) an English-to-Ghetto translator (www.englishghetto.com)
Now don’t think that I am being particularly bias towards Ebonics or any other style of language. Generations of comedians have made careers from what makes all of us either more brilliant or ignorant-depending upon who happens to be in the spotlight at the time. Anglo-Americans (white folks) have their own version of the English language and how to properly pronounce it. This of course has nothing to do with either language or the English who prefer to call what we say as American. Recognizing the differences often brings terms to mind such as rednecks, Yankees, and good ol’ boys.
Comedian Jeff Foxworthy- renowned for his “you might be a redneck if…” series of jokes-brings several butchered American words to mind such as “Jeet” (“Have you eaten” or “Jeet yet?”) And “Git” (“To get” or “Get away from here.”) Comedian Kat Williams draws attention to phrases such as “Nawmeen” (“Know what I mean?”), And the term “Bitch Dependency” or “whipped” as overheard in season two of Adult Swim’s “The Boondocks.” Even the phrases that have sprung from technology such as “selfies”, “LMFAO”, and “hashtag” (#) are becoming a common word speak.
I suppose that all phrases and words have their own distinctive meanings and significance depending on time, place, ethnicity, and age. If certain phrases catch on like wassuup, bitchin’, that looks sick, or you be trippin’, then I suppose it is a good thing for some and a curse for others. I can recall experiencing the same confusion as our current generation over older expressions such as hep cat, Mojo, and groovy to name just a few. After all, they were good for their day as is the slang currently in use.
When people in the media get creative and start their own phrases, give them a listen. You may just be learning something new and important. Otherwise, you may misinterpret what’s goin’ down and someone go call the “popo” on your ass….