Friday, October 19, 2007

DEAR EVERYONE MY AGE

Today I was informed by my college students that "cool" is no longer used literally. We're talking about arguments of definition, so I assigned them "The Coolhunt" by Malcolm Gladwell. I said, Cool is a good example of a shifting definition because by its very nature it's constantly changing.

Yeah, like how nobody uses it to describe temperature anymore, said Cory.

I laughed kindly and clarified that that part of the definition is still fixed: We still say it's cool outside--that hasn't changed.

Emma raised her hand. She looked confused and concerned. (For me?) I would never say that, she said. Much murmured concurrence.

What? Really? You wouldn't? None of you?

They all shook their heads. One said, My mom would say that. I wouldn't. It just sounds weird.

The weather is rainy and cool. That sounds weird?

A unanimous yes.

I felt both astonished and delighted by the discovery of this generation gap. Be ye hereby warned: Cool as a temperature is the new slacks.

P.S. Here is the salamander Iris & I found hiding under a wet leaf in Forest Park.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

you know about snowclones, eh?

http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/%7Emyl/languagelog/archives/004059.html

http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/004717.html

http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/004717.html

jra said...

there is little more delightful or hilarious to me right now than the idea that "cool is the new slacks". i am laughing so hard my eyes are watering. and i am alone. this is indeed very funny.