Another "Kids Today" conversation

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Tom the Dancing Bug for 8/23/2013 starts this way:


Read the whole thing.

A few past LL posts on the Kids Today meme:

"Balm in Gilead", 4/16/2004
"Kids today", 3/11/2010
"The curious specificity of speechwriters", 2/27/2011
"Kids today yesterday", 11/6/2011
"Psycho kids today", 11/12/2012


  1. Eric P Smith said,

    August 31, 2013 @ 9:22 am

    Is "Tell me about it" another of those under-negations like "I could care less?" I would say, "Don't tell me about it"; ie you don't need to tell me about it, because I am acutely aware of it already.

  2. Jerry Friedman said,

    August 31, 2013 @ 9:34 am

    To me, "Tell me about it" sounds like ordinary verbal irony, whereas if "I could care less" is verbal irony, it's odd somehow. (Normal verbal irony would be "I care deeply about that.")

  3. Brian said,

    August 31, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

    Think of it as a more ironic version of "Tell me something I don't know!"

  4. Mark Liberman said,

    August 31, 2013 @ 12:41 pm

    Oddly, the expression "Tell me about it", as a way of expressing what the OED calls "rueful agreement", seems to be fairly recent. The OED's earliest citation is 1987:

    1987 H. Turtledove Misplaced Legion iii. 51 ‘We could all have been in a lot of trouble there.’ ‘Tell me about it,’ the tribune said feelingly.

    I was able to antedate that to Megan Terry, Babes in the Big House (1974):

    CHAMP Naw, it added to my account in the Commissary. But I had anything I wanted there. Anything! I never been so poor in my life as I am here.
    KATHLEEN Me too. There isn't a big enough population to build up a really good bank account.
    CHAMP (Agreeing) Tell me about it.
    (They continue to scrub. Ronnie taps Champ on the back — a signal that Champ should be lookout while Ronnie "tends to some business." Champ gleefully runs off to do this. El Toro wait anxiously in Ronnie's cell — finally Ronnie coolly joins her.)

    But a few minutes of searching didn't find anything earlier than that, though I would have guessed that the expression dated back at least 50 years before that — it has a kind of 1920s feel to it, somehow.

  5. Matthew Baerman said,

    August 31, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

    On "tell me about it": the OED does have the near-equivalent "you're telling me" elsewhere in the entry, first citation 1932. (Title of a W.C. Fields movie of 1934 too.)

  6. Jake Nelson said,

    August 31, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

    @Mark Liberman: did some cursory checking of some older books where my memory suggested it was used- what I could find all turned out to be "You can say that again."

  7. maidhc said,

    August 31, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

    Along the same lines, Salon has a nice reply to Victor Davis Hansen, whose "kids these days" rant naturally goes back to Imperial Rome.

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