Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Slang Sling: "Get My Lick Back"

Our fifth and sixth graders are mired in constant petty grudges and grievances, eternally flinging taunts and sneaking blows* back and forth as opportunities permit. Which brings us to today's slang sling:
"get my lick back"
Student A sneaks a lick (smack or punch) on Student B. Student B decides to retaliate and return the smack or punch, declaring that he or she is going to "get my lick back".

As an educator trying to maintain decorum it's infuriating—the tit for tat back and forth. But as an armchair linguist, I have to admire the hilariously evocative imagery of the construct: the notion of a barter-based economy of licks, where each participant "bargains" for their rightful share, seeking lick-equilibrium.

Infuriating and hilariously evocative—I'd say that sums many of the students up pretty well too.**

* "Sneak" is another key term in their jargon of youthful warfare: "I'm gonna sneak him." Which is to say, "I'm gonna punch him when he's not looking."

** Speaking of which, I saw "The Class" tonight. Damn fine movie.


  1. My kids have not adopted the culture of sneaking licks. I had a kid walk brazenly up to another to deliver an open handed slap that knocked the poor kid off his stool, flat out. I think the technique of pure shock and awe was applied here.

  2. Yeah, that happens too. And the kids often apply the "sneak" terminology to that scenario as well. I've heard kids openly declare that they're going to sneak someone, to there face, right before doing it. Which, of course, isn't "sneaking" in any literal sense. But language is a limber thing.

  3. indeed. LEAP tensions are running high with the eighth graders. There was a very strange, very serious form of jousting that occurred this morning in the schoolyard before breakfast...