A couple weeks ago, I walked passed a group of high school-aged girls on the street. One of them was talking about another girl, who was not in their group. “She needs to CHILL the fuck DOWN!” the girl said, gesticulating. A slip of the tongue, I thought. A malapropism, like something George W. Bush might have said while giving a speech in front of thousands of people. But then the girl repeated herself. “Seriously,” she said. “She’d better chill down.” It didn’t seem like a mistake. Could “chill down” be a new saying, one that I just hadn’t before? Clearly, it’s a combination of “chill out” and “calm down” (or “settle down”). It doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as nicely as either of those, but it actually makes more sense than “chill out,” when you think about.
Yes, it turns out that it apparently is a known saying. Unsurprisingly, I am behind the times, and high school girls are setting the new linguistic trends. As Mark Liberman, a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania, tells the Times today, “It’s generally pretty well known that if you identify a sound change in progress, then young people will be leading old people. And women tend to be maybe half a generation ahead of males on average.”
Like I said, this doesn’t surprise me. But this particular example linguistic melange seems like it be taken further. For starters, how about:
1) Calm out!
3) Take a get-over-it pill!
3a) And be still!
4) Take it in slide!
5) Let it stride!
6) Don’t have a panties, man!
7) Don’t get your cow in bunch!
8) Don’t hate the cow, hate the game!
9) It’s not the end of the cow!
10) Don’t harsh my cow!
I think there’s a lot of potential here. Or, there would be, if I were a teenage girl.
Oh, and President Bush might also have just been ahead when he would say all those things that the press always labelled as malapropisms. He was apparently a master of the well-known valley-speak known as “uptalk.”
Mission, like, totes accomplished?