It's tough being a teenager, what with raging hormones, mood swings, and crazy-busy schedules. But it's certainly no picnic being the parent of a teen -- and having to listen to a teen's annoying sighs, grunts and groans.
James Harbeck, a Toronto-based editor/writer trained in linguistics, may not be able to stop teens from making these sounds, but in the video above he does give a phonetic explanation of "teen speak." It's sort of like a naturalist discussing a rare species.
What the heck is a "glottal stop, reduced mid-central unrounded vowel, long glottal fricative?" The teen's familiar sigh of exasperation, Harbeck explains (and demonstrates). And "duhhhh" turns out to be a "voiced alveolar stop and breathy-voiced low-back unrounded vowel, sometimes with advanced tongue root."
How did Harbeck conduct his research on what teenagers sound like?
"Some of the sounds were recollections from my own youth and I dug up the rest mainly by watching YouTube videos of teenagers and just-ex-teens talking about what they hate about teenagers," Harbeck told The Huffington Post in an email. "Yeah, I just about strained my eyes, I rolled them so much."
Check out Harbeck's full article published in The Week.