Slang is an expression of that which is truly wonderful about our language. As the years move on, more and more informal speech is added to the broth, much to the dismay of the generations that came before them.
The use of slang can be seen to bring joy and richness to conversations amongst friend groups, but this form of dialect has barriers and depending on your geographical location, your age group and the people you associate, you will all have informal terms flying around!
Slang has served as a dividing rod between parents and youngsters for as long as time. It is perfectly natural to wish to rebel against your parents at the time of adolescence and one way that seems to solidify this is by the use of language.
Slang Language Examples:
“That’s mint!” – This is not somebody calling out in surprise after discovering what their toothpaste tastes like, it is in fact something that is ‘great’. Those are mint trainers, that film was mint.
The term “Sick” has a similar implication.
Cockney rhyming slang was an elaborate means for East End gangsters to discuss their business without the police being able to listen in and understand what they are talking about. This particular style of rhyming is still popular today and more and more people understand its meaning but there are still terms that will catch people out.
The way it works is by using words which rhyme with what it is intended to mean.
Apples and pears – Means stairs
Trouble and strife – Knife
David Starkey – Parky, which is a slang term in itself for describing cold weather. David Starkey is a historian and it is due to the rhyme in his surname.
Sometimes this is abbreviated to just the forename. For example ‘It’s a bit David out ‘ere!’
The rapid change in slang often shows that names begin to change in meaning by those who use them causing confusion and humour alike from all generations. It shows the passage of language in all its beauty, but it can also be used to quite dramatic effects. This is particularly the case if one looks at words which where once meant to cause misery to other people.
Queer: Queer was originally a term to express that something was unusual, like in J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Chapter 7 is called Queer Lodgings. However, the term was later used as a derogatory name towards homosexual men it imply that there was something wrong with them, and that they were strange and out of the ordinary. The term ‘queer’ has now been reclaimed and appropriated by the gay community as something positive, thus removing the power of the oppressor.
“You’ve got spunk!” This term often causes a snigger amongst high school students when reading a book which uses the term to denote courage or determination. Now the term is use for, well, you get the idea.
“Busted” – Busted is a fantastic example of how a slang term can completely change meaning over time. If something was busted when your grandparents were younger, then it was broken. It the changed to mean somebody who had been apprehended by the police and subsequent taken in. In today’s lingo, “Busted” is a way of referring to somebody who you feel is unattractive.
Slang words can come about through a variety of different means, and one of the most popular ways is by splicing together words on a seemingly molecular level to create combination words or hybrid words. These tend to be two combinations of thoughts that intensify one and other.
“Omnishambles” – The term ‘Omnishambles’ was first uttered on The Thick of It, a master class of political satire created by the legendary Armando Iannucci and is recommended to all who don’t mind elegant swearing. ‘Omnishambles’ has been since added to the Oxford English Dictionary and even won the word of the year. It quite literally means ‘A situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations’, or for a better term, a situation that is shambolic from all possible angles.
Chillax: This is an incredibly popular term of phrase used by people today and it is simply achieved by fusing two words which are often used for the same purpose. That is to ‘Chill’ and to ‘relax’.
Frenemy: Very simple one to get your head around. This term uses contradiction to highlight a characteristic within people. A frenemy is somebody who apparently behaves as though they are your friend, but can be seen to act in a very unfriendly way. Fusion of ‘Friend and Enemy’
Smasual: Ever received a party invite that requests that you arrive in smart/casual wear? Well, now we can put those together to make a word that really rolls off of the tongue quite nicely!
Totes Amazeballs: This term is much to the annoyance of certain groups in the UK, if not, the world. It is a perfectly harmless term that is taken from ‘totally’ and ‘amazing’ with ‘balls’ thrown in for good measure. True, it does sound awfully silly, but once you look at the word flabbergasted then your argument becomes invalid.
In this ever changing world that we live in more and more words are needed to answer our existential problems regarding the removal of an individual from your Facebook profile. As more activities come along their will be words to denote them. Take these for example.
Friend and Unfriend: No longer do you just say to somebody that you are no longer their friend and that you don’t wish to speak to them anymore because the chances are they are still on your social media profile and can still view images and anything else that you post. The act of ‘Unfriending’ someone is the simple act of removing them digitally. The opposite is obvious for ‘friend or friending’.
Follow and Unfollow: In the Twitter age the term as changed from being that creepy person following your movements to those that are interest in what people have to say or do online.
Twerking: A form of dancing which is sexually provocative as it involves thrusting of hips and a low squatting stance. People have been outraged by it in the media due to a certain female singer to whom I’ve past the point of caring about. It is a combination of the words ‘twist’ and ‘jerk.’
YOLO (You Only Live Once): A term that usually characterises hedonistic behaviour as it is states you have one shot at life, then you may as well try things out no matter how ridiculous or stupid it is. Basically, it is ‘Carpe Diem’ for those that aren’t too familiar with Horace.
Surfing: Quite an oldie but still relevant. It is the term used for using the internet.
Slang is good for your mind it would seem, as it displays a great deal of creativity to achieve. Take Dickens and Shakespeare, those guys made up their own words and they are widely used to! Get creative and have some fun with your language!