Throngs of bibliophiles, parents, and scholars alike bemoan the proliferation of sorority slang. It's indoctrinated our youth. Led to laziness and imprecision. Shackled our diction with an air of unreliability.
Or so the argument goes.
For while I am not a huge fan of sorority mixers, alcohol poisoning, or Spanx, the critics seem a tad presumptuous. Sorority slang needs to be exonerated, particularly by the literati, who could improve their diction by employing it. Below I characterize several aspects of sorority slang with an eye towards assisting the unenlightened in appreciating its daily usefulness and mellifluous potency.
The Poetry of "Like"
Many of us merely use "like" as a verb or a preposition. This is utterly provincial. Would Shakespeare, who invented 10,000 words, so willingly shackle his own grammatical exploration? It is a lack of imagination that bars us from using like as a noun (I gotta go the like…) an adjective (he's like like…), and the beginning, middle, and end of a sentence (Like like like!).
Shakespeare once stated, "Brevity is the soul of wit." If this is accurate then sorority sisters are linguistic trailblazers who should be mentioned in the same sentence as E.E. Cummings. For sorority sisters transmit meaning without the need for an unnecessary level of antiquarian comprehensibility.
Besides, the almost mystical alliteration lifts sorority slang above more plebian forms of dialect. Even Edgar Allen Poe, who began The Raven, "once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary," does not fully match the operatic effect produced by a group of sorority sisters cackling amongst themselves while hovering like vultures over the display case at David Yurman Jewelry.
The Epistemological Brilliance of "You Know"
Sorority sisters are uniquely perspicacious about the way knowledge is fragmented and burdened by postmodern self-reflexiveness. This explains why they rarely finish a sentence without remarking, "You know?" Improbable as it may seem, these Tinder-addicted, hair-twirling sages are at the cutting the edge of the quest for true enlightenment.
One sorority sister I know learned she had leukemia and said "whatever." Her friends adored her after that—even though she went on to die. No matter.Reality is in flux. Quantum Theory teaches that the fundamentals of physics are far stranger and more unpredictable than Newton ever imagined. M-theory posits our universe may be but one membrane in an infinite sea of universes.
With this kind of uncertainty, and grounded, eternal knowledge a pipe dream, it seems inordinately astute of sorority sisters to require epistemological confirmation of every last uncensored thought.
Sure, if Strunk and White visited a typical sorority mixer today, with the chewing of green bubble gum, the inhalation of copious amounts of wine coolers, and the overreliance on you know, they might have a seizure. But this is an antediluvian perspective.
That constant reference to the other, that search for confirmation, that challenge to the principles of solipsism places sorority sisters at the cutting edge of twenty-first century philosophical thought. They know you need to know that they know that you know…what…I'm not sure…but they want to make sure you know it, and right now, completely, you know?
The Exuberance of "Super"
"We're all like, super super high!"The sorority sister reliance on "super" is a revolutionary linguistic choice. For ours is an age of negativity. Think of the great modernist works like T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland and Hemmingway's The Sun Also Rises. Too often artists fixate on a dearth, a meteor crater of limitations.
In marked contrast sorority lingo emphasizes abundance. Consider, for example, one sorority sister whom I heard declare, "He's like super sweet, and, you know, super super super cute." Certainly, our great literary minds cannot equally describe the unheralded potential of a new frat boy suitor with a flat top haircut. This is particularly true when the sorority sister hopes to convey the application of a technique learned in Cosmo as the key to snatching this new boy toy from his current lover, a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Some may say the repeated use of "super" is gimmicky, and, perhaps, even a sign of mental retardation, but, viewed from an alternate lens, it could be considered a radical sign of immense creativity. For repetition is often a sublime poetic form, highlighting meaning in a way that is otherwise impossible. This is why we see repetition play a key role in a great work like Robert Frost's "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening." These sorority sisters are no less skillful. Let us give them their due. And honor them, as we do Robert Frost, for an unparalleled rhythmic ear and a masterful cognitive brilliance.
The Mysticism of "Whatever"
"Whatever" is perhaps the most pithy way to end a conversation. Sorority girls often use it after learning they have HPV. The mysticism here comes from the immense insight into our universal helplessness. When a sorority girl says "whatever" she is really partaking in buddhist-style non-attachment. This kind of self-abnegation frees the sorority girl from untold sorrows and—in certain cases—elevates her to the level of a demigod.
One sorority sister I know learned she had leukemia and said "whatever." She then went back to blowdrying her hair. Her friends adored her after that—even though she went on to die. No matter. It was her unwillingness to let her brute reality matter that explained why she had so many boyfriends—even when she smelled like rotting toe cheese after two months without a shower in the hospital.
The Immediacy of "I'm Horny"
Too often we fixate on political and intellectual concerns without real regard for the desires of the body. Sorority girls reorder this societal paradigm. The use of an "I'm horny" at a cocktail party can radically change the conversation. I experienced this phenomenon last week when my wife, a former Sigma Delta Tau, shouted "I'm horny" at me while I tried to entertain the Chancellor at Brandeis. I blushed. There was a terrible moment of awkwardness.
But after that my wife and I excused ourselves and engaged in a dynamic repartee on the merits of the karma sutra. Before long I grabbed her by the hair and threw her in the bathroom where I drilled her doggystyle over the sink. The chancellor walked in on and us and understood. In fact, if I remember correctly, his response was "whatever." I guess all the sorority girls he dated while running Brandeis started to rub off on him—for no possible comment could have been as pithy.
In closing I'm certain sorority slang should be elevated, made into a national diction, and replace Merriam-Webster. No longer do we need to look up words. For, when you speak in sorority slang, you only need a vocabulary of five words at most.
What is more, we should all attend literary readings where these sisters get together on stage and cackle and take selfies and get their nails done while congratulating themselves on being superstars. For each off handed-comment, each time they babble in those annoying voices, they are really being more profound than the Bhagavad-Gita.
I'd love to explain further. But I've learned it's best to think like a sorority girl. And so like, you know, my wife's super horny now, so if you know, you like don't agree, like like like die. I mean it…like die. And if you don't wanna die, like whatever, just, like, you know, like, leave me alone, you like like like whatever I'm horny ah oh my gawd soo super like yes whatever ah you know you know you know like whatever super horny, like horny, horny HORNY, whatever, oh my gawd, you know?