Slang – annoying or great?
Slang is defined, by the Oxford English Dictionary as
‘a type of language consisting of words and phrases that are regarded as very informal, are more common in speech than writing, and are typically restricted to a particular context or group of people’.
Or, to put it less formally, slang is a
‘fly way to chat to your sick posse, props to da man yo! Word!’
When you put it like that I wouldn’t say I am a regular user of slang; but outside of the extreme, just how often do we use slang without even realise it?
So many examples have become commonplace that we may not even recognise them as ‘slang’ anymore. When a word is found in the dictionary or used on the BBC news can they still be labeled slang? I would argue that slang by its nature is cool (a slang word in itself) and exclusive, used by cliques, gangs , once they become every day they lose their appeal. Can you imagine Fiona Bruce using words like ‘dawg’ and ‘phat’? Me either. But would you say ‘underhand’, ‘third degree’ and ‘gay’ are really slang these days? They’re everyday words, and to use the correct terms of ‘surreptitious’, ‘questioned profusely’ and ‘homosexual’ would be considered far more unusual, yet back in the day these were the correct words and the others slang!
Most people would, I assume, relate slang to gangs and youths; but there are other examples too! The famous television program starring Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley (Ab Fab – slang!), or the world’s most popular red wine (Cab sav anyone?). Have you ever called someone beastly? Slang! Described something as bespoke? Slang!
I’m not sure where ‘text talk’ originated; whether it was a time saving method in internet chat rooms or dates back to when people were trying to keep sms’s to less than a certain amount of characters – but this in itself is a form of slang, one that for a time parents were concerned could lead to their children communicating amongst themselves in a language parents were unable to understand. Whilst working in America in 2007 a popular advert was often quoted by kids which apparently sought to make light of this concern, in the advert a girl was asked by her mother who she was texting, only to reply ‘idk, my bff Jill?’ leaving her mother quite perplexed!
I suppose, in short, useful slang does not annoy me – if it’s not offensive and I can understand it then hurrah! If I can’t understand it I can only assume I’m not supposed to – as I’m not in the clique or down with the kids. Or perhaps because it’s not my dialect (if you want to read more on that click here), who knows! Either way I’m sure I’ll cope without having to resort to calling anything ‘sick’ or ‘fly’, let’s face it – that would hardly be me!