The Baltimore Sun from Baltimore, Maryland on February 12, 1950 · 137
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The Baltimore Sun from Baltimore, Maryland · 137

Baltimore, Maryland
Issue Date:
Sunday, February 12, 1950
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Reverse English " iiiii!!iuS'i: The Newest Fad Backward Except the Multiplication By Ralph "ONT expect to find the vale dictorian at the head of the class when commencement rolls around this year. Unless he's a square, he's probably a member of his high school's backward set right now. for in many schools the newest This is a bug. fashion in teen-age talk has reversed everything but Caesar's Gallic Wars and the multiplication table. And the fad is still .: spreading.', . A "wild girl, in this new order of things, is a nice girl. "Lush, once a synonym of sponge or chiseler, now means a male date who spends generously, or a pretty and popular girl. Holidays, easy exams and other windfalls are called "revolting developments." The new system boils down to a twpart formula. The first part is called accentuating the negative. . When a girl says a boy isn't so cute, or says a fellow is no great dancer, he is understood to be just that When a girlis paid a compliment, she replies: "Oh, I hate that" or "Oh, I hate you." AHE second part of the formula is accentuating the positive. Thus, when a sophomore with frizzy red hair, too many freckles, no car and a build like a billiard cue asks a senior girl for a date, she turns him down by telling him: "Oh, you're too much.' Nobody knows just how the reverse-English craze got started in Baltimore. But it did. sometime between the opening of In these ways a girl shows that she is look. in Teen-Age Talk Puts Everything Reppert school and the Christmas holidays. "Wild" is the first of the new terms most teen-agers can remember. It is applied, as a compliment, to a fellow's, best girl. It means she is pretty, is a good dancer,, or has a television set and do younger brothers. The reverse English has even got into the television lexicon. A wolf is now a fellow who doesn't pay much attention to the girls once he's in their living rooms. He monopolizes the. television set, keeps it tuned to the wrestling matches, and raids the ice- box. uninvited, between falls. A CUSHION hawk once was an automobile enthusiast who didn't have a car of his own. Now he's This is an Adam bomb. a television enthusiast without a set of bis own. Shadows and ghosts are unwelcome guests on a television date younger brothers, kid sisters boy friends, parents, etc. The reverse-English craze is particularly confusing at the moment because it has changed only about a third of the teen-age vocabulary in Baltimore. The other two thirds of it stands as before. Take girls, for instance. Better-than-average dates are still known as pigeons or pidges. Girls who are not necessarily beautiful or expert dancers, but are fun on a date and full of laughs, are she clowns. Then there are two other types of talkers the squirrel, who is just plain silly, and the mountain mouth, who is never quiet. A very average dat considered better than no date at all. 3 1 Table j v '"""-'1 ' VJLJUdU but not much better is known as a bare 60 or bare 70. depending upon the minimum passing grade in the speaker's school. A GIRL who is an undesirable date is still a paleface, load or beast. A paleface doesnt use makeup and considers herself better than girls who do. A load is usually a fat girl, although the term is often used synonymously with stick any uninteresting girl. A beast, also known as an ulp. erp or ugh. is the worst thing: that can happen on a blind This is a load. date. She is a size 32 in a size 34 sweater, or a size 38 in a 32 sweater; a frump. A fellow the girls like to date is still a dad or daddy. One of the football hero type is known as an Adam bomb. Braggarts are called phonies, or three-dollar bills. A snappy dresser is a sharp or sharpie. Ultraconservatives. who dress like middle-aged men of 25. are called Gaylords, a classification which also includes sissies. I NFLECTION plays an impor tant part in the language. Teachers, for instance, are generally known as bugs, but the teacher known as a bug is very popular. If a boy Is known as a drill, he's very sharp. Indeed. it pronounced without emphasis, a student explains, "a drill ain't nuth-ln but a bore." A fellow knows It the minute he falls into the drill or three-dollar bill classification. His best nnw ; i In the reverse English that a wolf is a fellow chiefly friends tell him. They break into his conversation with something like this: "Ferris is my name. I'm a big wheel myself." "YouVe heard of Atlas? I'm his brother Meatless." - "Mallard's my name. I'm a duck." "What does that make me, an Eskimo or an Elk?" And so on: Then the interrupted braggart will try to establish himself as a drill instead of a drill by coming back with one of these sharp remarks: "Shut your "hairy mouth." "Turn blue, please." "Aaaah. your mother wears army shoes." And so on. It will be interesting to see if the reverse craze cuts into the This is too much. list of fads which at present mark the sharp set. As it is now, a sharpie can see a girl across a schoolroom and tell, at a glance, if she goes steady. If a girl and boy wear sweet heart sweaters (of the same color and pattern I they go very steady. I A fellow can't buy a new sweater for every passing flirtation. I If the girl has one knot tied in her string of pearls, she's untook. Two knots, she' took. If a girl laces her hw down a a - a - l . mm is now the teen-age fashion, interested in a girl's TV set instead of up, tying the bow at the bottom, she's somebody's steady girl friend. If she hasn't knocked the heels off her shoes, she's undateable. That would be the teacher. If reverse English lingers for any length of time, some students believe, the ivy language will finally have to go. There's no room for both. TlIE ivy language is created by putting the letters h? at the beginning of every word beginning with a vowel, and after the first letter of every word beginning with a consonant. "How are you," for instance, is spoken "Hivow ivare yivou?" Nobody seems to know how the ivy language got started, either. Or why, like Latin, it has lasted so long. It will take another month or two for reverse English to establish itself properly, and so it may be well for amateurs to converse only with friends till then. And in the meantime, if a boy calls you an ulp or an erp or a beast, just smile. It may be the sharpest way there is of asking for a date. This is a bare 60. vav-v

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