The Atlantic

Why Grown-Ups Keep Talking Like Little Kids

Embracing your inner child is comforting and fun—and just might revitalize the English language.
Source: Tamara Shopsin

I recently had the honor of meeting an award-winning literary sort, a man wry and restrained and overall quite utterly mature, who casually referred to having gone through a phase in his 20s when he’d been “pilly”—that is, when he’d taken a lot of recreational drugs. The word had a wonderfully childish sound to it, the tacked-on y creating a new adjective in the style of happy, angry, and silly. My writer-acquaintance, I recognized, was not alone in bending language this way. On the sleeper-hit sitcom Schitt’s Creek, for instance, one of the protagonists, David, speaks of a game night getting “yelly,” while his sister describes a love interest as “homelessy.” Meanwhile, back in real life, one of my podcast listeners informed me of a Washington, D.C., gentrifier who declared that a neighborhood was no longer as “shooty-stabby” as it once had been.

and its counterparts are not just charming, one-off neologisms; they’re signs of a and are common; my daughter, at age 3, described herself as “a talky kind of a person.” The adoption of some of these linguistic tics by adults—in the form of and many other terms—has given rise to a register we might call kidspeak. It’s a new way of sounding “real,” with a prominence that would challenge a time traveler from as recently as the year 2000.

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