Slang Around the World - What's Up With That?
No one knows where or when the word 'slang' was actually incorporated into our language. The meaning is highly debated among those who study language. Linguistic experts often disagree about what slang is and what it isn't.
It isn't colloquialism, jargon or dialect. In fact, slang is many times a result of differences between cultural dialects. People would commonly misunderstand the pronunciation of words and their attempts to borrow the words might result in a different pronunciation or meaning.
Maybe it really is all about semantics!
Colloquialism is language that is more familiar that people commonly use when speaking with friends or relatives. It is a more relaxed way of speaking - informal. Currently, some popular words are "hot" as in "that's hot." or "dumped" as in "he dumped me!" These are words that are understood by most people in a large area.
Jargon is vocabulary used among members of a trade or might be specific to a subject. For example, computer gibberish or medical terminology. The people that work in that field may understand this babble but people unfamiliar with the field would not know the meaning.
Slang is more of a code that is developed so that outsiders can not understand what is being communicated. It is a lexicon of vocabulary terms developed to aid a group in covert activity.
Dialect is the language shared among a group of people which includes, grammar, vocabulary and the pronunciation of the words.
Can you Cant?
Cant is the secret language or code that was used in the criminal cosmos to prevent outsiders from understanding what they were saying to each other ... convicts, thieves, pickpockets, or Gypsy's used this way of speaking. This language began to appear around the 17th Century in England. Dictionaries were made in an effort to "protect the public" so people would be able to identify these words.
"Vocabulum" or "The Rogue's Lexicon," was published in 1859. It was the first known dictionary in America by George Matsell, the Chief of Police of New York. Harvard College published "A Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant and Vulgar language," in 1859 as well. It says:
"Cant is by some people derived from one Andrew Cant, who, they say, was a Presbyterian Minister in some illiterate part of Scotland, who by exercise and use had obtained the faculty, alias gift, of talking in the pulpit in such a dialect that 'tis said he was not understood by none but his own congregation, - and not by all of them."
Slang and Cant were seen as objectionable, low class or disreputable people. The first English Dictionary was published in an attempt to stop the spread of slang. It was a book that was made up of proper English vocabulary words.
Cant was used in saloons, or gambling houses - houses of ill repute! The language was used to limit the understanding of the larger group.
The Midnight Ride
Folk hero, Paul Revere, was a Master Engraver and an accomplished Silversmith but he is best known for The Midnight Ride. Revere became a mounted messenger in 1770 for the Whig Patriots. He rode his horse to locations in New York, Philadelphia and other areas throughout New England. This group had a code they made to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams that the Red Coats were coming. Revere came up with a warning signal in the event that the British came to attack. He told the other members to signal him by placing a lit lantern in the belfry of the Old North Church, "one if by land and two if by sea." Revere received his signal and went from village to village to deliver his message on that dark night. Slang was the language that helped keep activities covert.
War Slang or Trench Slang was popular during wars because it also helped the soldiers to distance themselves from reality. They used language as a mental block to disconnect from harsh cruelties they were exposed to on a daily basis. Words that were a train wreck of French mixed with English became a vocabulary.
- Alley was used as a word of warning to indicate "run away! go!" It was derived from the French word "allez" which means "to go."
- Boko was used to mean "a lot or much." This word most likely came from the French word "beaucoup".
- Toot Sweet was used to mean "quick". This word was probably derived from "toute de suite" which means "right away.
Many slang words came to be simply because the pronunciation was misunderstood and the errors transferred to another language. The videos included are a great example of how dialect can be confusing to non natives. Each person is clearly speaking English in each one but the dialect is so unfamiliar to our ears that we can not comprehend exactly what is being said. Those words may make their way around the entire world changing ever so slightly each time it is borrowed by another culture.
How Slang Travels
During the 18th century there were thousands of British prisoners who were brought to America by ship. They were chained together and forced to serve out sentences in the U.S. These travelers used slang. The dialect was unfamiliar to Americans so many slang words are derived from that period. British colonists, the abolitionist movement and the Westward movement also helped to spread slang.
It was frowned upon as it made it's way like a virus into the fabric of cultures everywhere. The Mafia developed their own language so they could not be easily understood. Mafia lingo was the only slang that was kept really secret. They did not share their vocabulary with other groups and have always been famous for their code of silence.
In the 1920s, post war slang gained favorable use and popularity. Writers loved it. (Of course - blame it on the writers)! Mass media and fiction, films! All of these things with an increased demand for entertainment. Fiction was kicked up a notch by using the slangy terms. The language that was once considered damaged there was now a proclivity and people had a penchant for it.
Slang is now used everywhere, is widely accepted and has lost most of it's negative connotation.
Funny Shit Canadians Say
It's the Double Dutch Bus! Fo Shizzle - Ferizzle!
What's the Shizzle?
Frankie Smith, Philadelphia resident, applied and was rejected for a job at the bus station. He was upset but changed his tune. Smith turned his frown upside down and wrote a song about it. Wanna hear it? Many people did - it quickly rose to top the billboards as the number one song for eight weeks in 1981. This particular song is credited for spreading the popularity of the "izzle" or "izz" into a multitude of slang language around the globe.
Music is another way that slang is commonly spread to masses of people.
- Canada and the U.S.A. What are the differences?
Have you ever wondered about the differences between these two countries?
- Scotland Travel Requirements
- Moving to London - Popular Slangs
Popular slangs used in the City of London - July 2009
- Moving to London Pt 2 - More popular Slangs
Part 2 of my Hub: Moving to London – Popular Slangs. This has more slangs and a short quiz at the end that might win you a prize - April 2010
- Internet Slang words - Internet Dictionary - InternetSlang.com
Internet Slang words - Internet Dictionary. Internet Slang. A list of common slang words, acronyms and abbreviations as used in websites, ICQ chat rooms, blogs, SMS, and internet forums.
- Mobspeak Glossary
- Urban Dictionary
- War Slang
- Dictionary of English slang and colloquialisms of the UK
A monster-sized dictionary of English slang and British colloquialisms (informal speech) currently in use in the UK, listing over 4000 slang expressions.
Communication changes and advances in technology have allowed slang to infect the computer world. Texting and IM's are ever popular. The need to shorten words and phrases for convenience has elicited a whole new slang language. Internet slang. Teenagers everywhere are now able to communicate in code right beneath our noses while they sit right next to us on the lofty sofa chatting away in silence on laptops, iPads, phones or Kindle Fires. Do you think you know what they are talking about? Take a look at a few text terms and let's see if you're all that.
Are you familiar with this text lingo?
- PAW - Parents are Watching
- Code 9 - Parents are around
- NIFOC - Naked in front of computer
- S2R - Send to receive
- TDTM - Talk dirty to me
- PRON - Porn
- P911 - Parent emergency
Do you know the code?
Slang will always be omnipresent and ever changing. As soon as the words become common knowledge it is no longer useful to the criminal element and new words will replace the old words. Then writers such as myself will lust after them, borrowing and entertaining the masses through music, movies, television, gangs, books and magazines.
"All slang is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry." ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton
What goes around comes around?
I asked my Facebook friends what the popular slang in their area is at the current time and this is what's good in the neighborhood.
Tina from the UK had a favorite when she lived in Liverpool - it was "saffy" which means "this afternoon" as in "I will meet you for lunch this afternoon." shortened to "Meet you saffy."
Tammy from Pennsylvania laughs when she hears "don't be getting all up in my Kool-aid when you don't know what the flavor is."
Austinstar from Texas has a current favorite local slang saying and it is "that dog won't hunt." as in "that politician is an incompetent moron."
Missolive from Texas is a teacher so she hears quite a few slang terms. Most recently she had to chuckle upon hearing "butt hurt." as in "don't get your butt hurt." in place of "don't get your feelings hurt".
What area are you from? What slang words or phrases do you hear? Please post them in the comments section - it would be interesting to know which words will spread from your neighborhood to mine.
- Can You Translate Irish Slang?
Try to make sense of some Irish slang words or expressions. Do you know what they mean? It's another language! Do you know what each one means or do you have to guess?
- Quiz: British Slang Quiz !
Welcome to my British Slang Quiz , lets see if you know as much as you THINK you know ... Take this quiz! What does it mean if you have a " Dekko " ? What
- Australian Slang Quiz 1
- Internet Slang Quiz - Test Your Slang Knowledge?
Internet Slang & Acronym Dictionary, Translator, and other slang resources. Keep your kids safe: Translate their internet and text slang.
It's probably loaded with slang. Writers! Pffft!
- I Wrote Today
The day and age of sending a simple letter through the mail seems to have left us. Now we are left with instant communication, whether it is email or text messaging. But, don't forget, your handwriting is still very important.