Gen-Z Language Quiz.

OK, this is yer basic clickbait, but I learned some stuff from it and you might too. Danielle Abril of the Washington Post has a quiz (archived) with the following introduction:

With boomers, Generation X, millennials and Generation Z all in one workplace and increasingly communicating online, some of the quirkiness of each generation has come to light. The result: the potential for confusion and misinterpretations of what your colleague is saying, especially as younger workers introduce new lingo and expressions.

Avoiding misinterpretations of text and emojis will only become more important as more young professionals, who grew up communicating digitally, enter the workforce. Gen Z workers — defined as those born between 1997 and 2012 — are expected to more than triple in the United States, Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands and United Kingdom, accounting for 30 percent of total employment by 2030, according to a study by Oxford Economics.

So let’s put your knowledge to the test. How well do you think you can understand your Gen Z colleagues in the workplace? Here are six questions based on our conversations with Gen Z workers.

I got 5/6 due to sheer luck (the one meaning I know for “out of pocket” is irrelevant here, but I guessed right) plus a bit of knowledge and perhaps overly generous quiz construction (many of the proposed answers are obviously wrong); see how well you do. Thanks, Sven!


  1. Got ’em all. You can guess most of them by process of elimination.

  2. There are a bunch of interesting comments about the relevant senses of “out of pocket” as Language Log. (There is also another instance of apparent neologisms being incorrectly claimed to be African-American in origin. This seems to be a thing.*)

    * Typing this, I got myself tangled up. I was thinking “a thing” in my head, but I knew I had to adde the HTML tag first. However, since both “a thing” and “<a href=…”** have first letter “a,” I found myself briefly flummoxed. After typing the “a” in the HTML tag, I hit a wall and couldn’t figure out what to type next. I had to breathe in and out, see where i had left off, and pick it up again.

    ** I made another typing mistake here, and automatically added a backslash before the ampersand, as would be required to produce the “&” character in LaTeX.

  3. David Eddyshaw says

    I too got 6/6. Which, frankly, shows that the test is no good.

    (None of my children counts as Gen Z, and I don’t even understand them. This, of course, is exactly as it should be. My parents don’t understand me, either, but understanding is overrated.)

  4. Stu Clayton says

    Expecting 0/6, I got 3/6. I can’t be bothered to understand dorky ephemera. It just feeds the proles. #no

  5. David Eddyshaw says

    Proles gotta eat. Otherwise we would have do all the work, and Culture would die.

  6. Stu Clayton says

    Let them eat fake. Mud’s sister, not himself, adorns their shoes.

  7. David Eddyshaw says

    Thine arithmetic is quite correct.

  8. @Brett: Here’s the latest example of the other kind of African-American etymythology.

    I got 3/6 on the quiz, which IIRC is less than I got when I did it after reading the LLog post two days ago.

  9. I recently returned to school as an individual born in the Reagan administration, and the majority of my classmates are aged circa 22. I saw ‘slay’ getting thrown around a lot, as often as not in the little online student discussion/bickering group with pictures of frogs with crowns looking at themselves in the mirror, and was able to figure out what was meant from context.

  10. >Mud’s sister, not himself, adorns their shoes

    Coached my kid’s soccer team indoors last night and came home with a shoe full of tiny artificial rubber balls from the turf underlay. Mud’s illegitimate cousin.

  11. Tiny rubber balls = “microplastic” ? (L < 5 mm)

  12. I’m not sure. They’re soft. I bluffed in pretending to know whether the rubber is plant-based or man-made. If the former, then tecnically there are plastic fibers in it. I’d have to know the manufacturer of the particular artificial turf used there to know more.

    Found a reference:
    > Turf pellets are made from recycled tires

    So probably microplastics in significant part. Tire rubber includes natural and artificial rubber. Maybe 2-4 mm diameter.

  13. Soccer fields of it swirling in the oceans. Water sport.

  14. I took the Gen-D quiz and somehow figured out that “terribly” meant “very”. Hmph.

  15. I’m glad your quote prompted me to look back into it. That article if a little smarmy, suggests there are concerns about contact with the microplastics. I’m telling my daughter to keep her sweatpants on unless it’s too hot.

    Alas it was the least of health concerns last night. I and another father subbed in while the younger, fitter coach was away. And the co-sub tore his achilles. Tough night.

  16. I got 3/6. I was born in ’84, and have been using the Internet since ’97, so “elderly millenial” apparently.

  17. I got 5/6; only the out of pocket question tripped me. It’s not hard to understand Gen Z logic. It’s straightforward rather than devious. You only need to take an extra step.

  18. Richard Hershberger says

    I am skeptical of the claim that an innocent youth will be traumatized should an older coworker end a sentence with a period. Stipulating to the youthful usage, this gives the kidz awfully little credit for linguistic sophistication. It isn’t as if they have never read a book that uses period, or are mystified that the older generation might do things a bit differently.

  19. David Eddyshaw says

    Curses! Now I’ll have to think of another way of traumatising them …

    I suppose there’s always

  20. It isn’t as if they have never read a book that uses period

    I read in the WaPo, I think it was, that Sam Bankman-Fried of recent fame said he never reads books and is proud of the fact. If you can’t say something in 6 paragraphs, he supposedly said, it’s not worth saying. Or not worth paying attention to, perhaps. I’m not sure which it was.

    (Reading 6 paragraphs on a phone must be a trial, in any case).

  21. >I am skeptical of the claim that an innocent youth will be traumatized should an older coworker end a sentence with a period.

    Articles like this read with the credulousness of the hard-bitten news guy Roland Burton Hedley reporting live from Zonker’s dorm-room.

    >>>Wow, Saigon. You must be super-skeptical and able to see right through people trying to pull one over on you. What did you cover in Saigon, Mr. Hedley?

    >Sports. Why?

    There’s no reason to believe any of it as presented, either not common outside the small subpopulation that a particular reporter is in touch with, or true of anyone who is routinely in a similar situation, regardless of generation. For any of you who text or are on slack routinely, do you not notice that the plain smiley seems feeble? I’ve never been told that but feel it intuitively. Slay? Sure. Knock ’em dead, kid.

  22. If you can’t say something in 6 paragraphs, he supposedly said, it’s not worth saying.

    Most incorporation papers and legal contracts run to far more than that. Perhaps that’s why he ended up in the pickle he is in? Indictments, too.

  23. David Eddyshaw says

    … und alles, was man weiß, nicht bloß rauschen und brausen gehört hat, läßt sich in drei Worten sagen.

  24. Another guiding principle (“Maxime“) is that three sentences suffice. My comments here usually contain no more than that, including the Rauschen und Brausen !

  25. This 19C Austrian guy Kürnberger seems to have had a nice line in Thomas Bernhard grousing:

    # Schon früh distanzierte sich der junge Kürnberger von Österreich; für ihn war Deutschland das große fortschrittliche Vorbild. Er selbst empfand die heimischen Verhältnisse als geradezu „asiatisch, zurückgeblieben, faul dumm und tadelnswert“. Das österreichische Beamtentum bezeichnete er als „großäthiopisch“. #

    Max Weber, Adorno and Witty all quote him. DE too. Great minds are partial to a good giggle.

    Faul dumm und tadelnswert – it is to laugh out loud !

  26. Lazy, stupid and deplorable.

  27. PlasticPaddy says

    This sort of attitude seemed to be “in der Luft” in the late 19th century; Kürnberger even attributes it to Metternich in a famous but false quotation:

  28. Stu Clayton says

    @PP: He’s definitely someone I want to read. It appears that I can get most of his work through ZVAB.

Speak Your Mind