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Generational translations of common words and phrases

Updated on July 29, 2010

Generational doublespeak: How to understand your parents language

For you younger people out there, you may hear your parents, teachers or older people occasionally use words that may sound misplaced or confusing. "What did he mean by that?" You may wonder.

Well, here's a brief sample of then-and-now word translations....

Then: Bum (Also known as Hobo or Vagrant)

Now: Homeless person


Then: Drug addict

Now: A person with a chemical dependency (Also called a substance abuser)


Then: slum

Now: Low Income Housing


Then: Prejudice

Now: racism or biasness


Then:used car

Now: pre-owned vehicle


Then: secretary

Now: personal assistant


Then: Janitor

Now: maintenance engineer


Then: Window washer

Now: Transparant wall maintainer


Then: Spanish people

Now: Latinos


Then: Red Indian

Now: Native Americans


Then: Mutt

Now: mixed breed


Then: pollution

Now: environmental health concerns


Then: The information super highway

Now: the Internet


Then: Poor people

Now: People living below the national poverty level


Then: Prisons

Now: correctional institutions


Then: Blind people

Now: The visually impaired

(The same goes for Deaf people=the hearing impaired)



Then: Pornography

Now: Adult entertainment


Then: strip clubs

Now: gentleman's clubs


Then: liquor stores

Now: Wine and spirit emporiums


Then: garbage dump

Now: landfills


Then: Toilet Paper

Now: Bathroom tissue


Then: Suing

Now: taking legal action


Then: fat

Now: plus sized (Also known as people suffering from obesity)



Then: Old people

Now: the elderly (or senior citizens)


Then: Job lay-offs

Now: corporate downsizing


Then: Stewardess

Now: flight attendant


Then: Mailman (Later to become postal worker)

Now: mail carrier


Then
: mobile phone

Now: cel phone


Then: rapist-

Now: sexual offender


Then: ESP

Now: psychic


Then: Oriental

Now: Asian


Then: Handicapped

Later to become...disable; differently able; physicaly challenged

Now: handi-capable


Then: shell shock

Later to become...battle fatigue; post traumatic stress

Now: Gulf War syndrome

Those are just a few examples. I'll have more in future

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    • Robwrite profile image
      Author

      Rob 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      Hi M.T.; It's an interesting phenomenon, the way words and phrases get updated, like software.

      Thanks for reading,

      Rob

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      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      I hadn't thought about how younger people wouldn't necessarily know the phrases we used regularly.

    • Robwrite profile image
      Author

      Rob 7 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      I don't know the quote, Dahoglund, but if I find out I'll get back to you. Thanks for reading.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      How I am hating euphemisms and political correctness.Eugen McCarthy the late Minnesota Senator quoted someone to the effect that a step in correcting the world would be to call things by there right names.If you know the original source and quote, let me know.

    • Robwrite profile image
      Author

      Rob 7 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      Thanks, HH. It's an interesting cultural phenomenon.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      I never thought about but you pointing it out it amazing how language changes. Thank you. Very interesting.