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Arts Vanity: Top 5 Trends in Gen Z Talk

By Naomi S. Castellon-Perez
By Isabel C. Ruehl, Crimson Staff Writer

French salons produced art of The Enlightenment; the Bloomsbury Group fostered modernist masterpieces; and now, from the mysterious gatherings of youths born after 2000, a new form of poetics is emerging: Gen Z Talk. We’ve all heard it: smol, stan, gucci, highkey, can’t even. If you’re an upperclassman or older, you’re excluded from this elite circle of cutting-edge language creation — but that doesn’t mean you can’t decode it, with a little help from this phrasebook.

1. Slaps

“That song really slaps,” someone might say when “HIGHEST IN THE ROOM” comes on. Other things that slap (though it’s most commonly used for songs): Jefe’s, Kirkland Stein, MFA's newest exhibit. This definition is pretty self-evident — basically it’s a compliment to anything cool. Dental coverage for grad students? That would slap. Divestment? That too.

2. Going Rover

Urban Dictionary puts it best: “Breaking off of something and going your own way.” This could mean storming the field after a football win, especially if the game is at Fenway. And this sort of individuality is, after all, what our liberal arts education is encouraging us to assert. Angela Merkel told us, at last year’s Commencement, that “if we break down the walls that hem us in, if we step out into the open and have the courage to embrace new beginnings, everything is possible.” In short: “Go rover.”

3. Celly Game

The capacity to celebrate. And this month we need a great capacity to meet the demands of winter formals, holidays, New Years. Maybe you need to up your celly game, or maybe your celly game slaps already. See? It all comes together quite smoothly.

4. No Cap

Think: when someone takes off their hat — when they enter a church, for example, or office hours — it means something serious is about to happen. “No cap” instills into speech this same aura of solemnity. “I can’t wait for break, no cap,” your Gen Z friend might say, meaning “I’m being serious,” or “honestly.” No cap is the best policy.

5. G

Simple and sweet, this little phrase is what you call that someone special. When you lock yourself out of your room in the quad and your roommate rushes back to let you in, make sure you tell them: “You’re such a G.” It’s the highest compliment you can pay.

With these phrases under your belt, you can feel confident deciphering — and maybe even speaking — the language of tomorrow’s leaders. It is our collective duty, after all, to stay abreast of culture and the arts — and a mission that The Crimson’s Arts Board in particular is proud to lead.

— Outgoing Blog Exec Isabel C. Ruehl ’20 enjoys early mornings and a good cup of herbal tea. She is grateful to this board for keeping her young.

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