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English

Do you ever use words with your friends that your parents don't know the meaning of? Or do you use words that someone in another country (or even city) wouldn't understand? This is where our good friend slang comes into play. Chances are, everyone uses some type of slang when they talk to different people; it has become a part of the way we socialise with others. But what actually is slang, and why do we use it?

In this article, we will explore the meaning of slang and look at some examples. We will also consider the reasons for people using slang and the effects it can have in different situations.

Slang Meaning

Slang is a type of informal language comprised of words and phrases that are generally used within specific social groups, regions and contexts. It is used more frequently in spoken conversation and online communication than in formal writing.

Why do people use slang language?

Slang can be used for a variety of reasons:

Slang words/phrases take less time to say or write out, so it is a quicker way to communicate what you want to say.

Within a group of friends, slang can be used to create a sense of belonging and closeness. You can all use similar words/phrases to relate to one another and express yourselves, and you are all familiar with the language you use together.

Slang can be used to reflect who you are and which social groups you belong to. It can help to distinguish yourself from others. The slang you use to communicate and express yourself can be understood by people you associate with but won't always be understood by outsiders.

In particular, slang can be used by teens and young adults to separate themselves from their parents and create more freedom in how they communicate. It is a good way to show the differences between generations. For example, your parents may not understand the slang you use with friends and vice versa. It's like each generation has a secret language that distinguishes them from others!

Depending on where you are from, different slang words are used that are often only understood by the people in those particular areas.

Examples of Slang and Colloquial Language

Now, let's take a look at different types of slang and some examples of them.

Internet slang

A common type of slang in today's society is internet slang. This refers to words or phrases that have been made popular or have been created by people who use the internet.

It is worth noting that because internet slang is so popular, it is sometimes used in daily life outside of online communication.

Who uses internet slang the most?

Compared to older generations who didn't grow up with the internet, younger generations are more likely to use social media and the internet to communicate, and they are more familiar with internet slang as a result.

Slang.Internet.Social Media Icons. StudySmarterYounger generations are more likely to be familiar with internet slang, Pixabay.

Do you recognise any or all of the icons in the picture above?

Examples of internet slang

Some examples of internet slang include letter homophones, abbreviations, initialisms, and onomatopoeic spellings.

Letter Homophones

This refers to when a letter is used in the place of a word that is pronounced in the same way. For example:


SlangMeaning

C

See

U

You

R

Are

B

Be

Y

Why

Abbreviations

This refers to when a word is shortened. For example:


SlangMeaning

Abt

About

Rly

Really

Ppl

People

Min

Minute

Probs

Probably

Approx

Approximately

Initialisms

An abbreviation is made from the first letters of several words which are pronounced separately. For example:


SlangMeaning

LOL

Laugh out loud

OMG

Oh my God

LMAO

Laughing my ass off

IKR

I know right

BRB

Be right back

BTW

By the way

TBH

To be honest

FYI

For your information

Fun fact: 'LOL' has been used so much that it is now recognised as its own word in the Oxford English Dictionary!

Onomatopoeic spellings

This refers to words that are used to mimic sounds. For example:


SlangMeaning

Haha

Used to replicate laughter

Oops/whoops

Used when a mistake is made or to express an apology

Ugh

Often used to show annoyance

Eww

Often used to show disgust

Shh/shush

Used to tell someone to be quiet

Fun fact: The way to write 'haha' in Korean is ㅋㅋㅋ (pronounced like 'kekeke')

Do you know of any other ways to write or say 'haha'?

As we have explored internet slang, we will now take at some newer slang words created and commonly used by the younger generation.

Gen Z Slang Words

Gen Z refers to the generation of people born from 1997 to 2012. Gen Z slang is used mostly by young adults and teenagers, both on the internet and in real life. It is a way to create an identity and sense of belonging between people in the same generation, as they can relate to one another. At the same time, it gives a sense of independence from the older generations, who are seen as outsiders as they are not familiar with the slang of younger generations.

Teenagers on their phones, Pixabay.

Examples of Gen Z slang

Have you heard of any of the examples listed below?

Word/phrase

Meaning

Example sentence

Lit

Really good/exciting

'This party is lit'

Stan

An excessive/obsessive fan of a celebrity

'I love her, I'm such a stan'

Slaps

Cool

'This song slaps'

Extra

Overly dramatic

'You're so extra'

Sus

Suspicious

'That looks a bit sus'

On fleek

Look very good

'Your eyebrows are on fleek'

Spill the tea

Share the gossip

'Go on, spill the tea'

Mood

Relatable

'Getting out of bed at 1 pm? Mood'

It is also important to be aware of AAVE, a dialect that is not gen z slang but could be wrongly mistaken for it. AAVE stands for African American Vernacular English; it is an English dialect influenced by African languages and is widely used in Black communities in the US and Canada. It is an important part of African American culture, but it is often appropriated by non-Black people. Have you heard of phrases such as 'Chile, anyways' or 'we been knew'? These have roots in AAVE but are widely used by non-Black people on the internet.

What are your thoughts on non-Black people using AAVE on the internet? Do you think it's important we understand the roots and history of a dialect to avoid appropriation?

Regional English Slang Words

Slang can be region and language-based, meaning that people from different regions in the same country and people from different countries altogether use different slang words.

We will now compare English slang used in different regions by looking at some examples and their meanings. Although England is small, there are many different dialects, resulting in the creation of new words in each region!

Word:

Meaning:

Example sentence:

Commonly used in:

Boss

Great

'That's boss, that'

Liverpool

Lad

A man

'He’s a handsome lad'

Northern England

Dinlo/Din

A foolish person

'Don’t be such a dinlo'

Portsmouth

Bruv/Blud

Brother or friend

'You alright bruv?'

London

Mardy/Mardy bum

Grumpy/whiny

'I'm feeling mardy'

Yorkshire/Midlands

Geek

To look at

'Take a geek at this'

Cornwall

Canny

Nice/pleasant

'This place is canny'

Newcastle

Which of the above words are the most interesting or unusual to you?

Slang - Key Takeaways

  • Slang is informal language used with specific groups of people, regions and contexts.

  • Slang is used more in speech and online communication than in formal writing.

  • Internet slang refers to the words used by people on the internet. Some internet slang is also used in daily life.

  • Gen Z slang refers to the slang used by people born from 1997 to 2012.

  • Slang is dependent on region and language; different countries use different slang.

Slang

Slang is informal language used within certain social groups, contexts and regions.

An example of slang is 'chuffed', meaning 'pleased' in British English.

Slang can be used for a variety of reasons, some of which include:

  • more efficient communication
  • fit into certain social groups
  • create own identity
  • gain independence
  • show belonging or understanding of a certain region/country

Slang can be defined as a type of informal language comprised of words and phrases generally used within specific contexts.

Final Slang Quiz

Question

What is slang?

Show answer

Answer

Slang is a type of informal language comprised of words and phrases that are generally used within specific social groupsregions and contexts.

Show question

Question

Slang is formal language.


True or false?

Show answer

Answer

False.


Slang is informal language.

Show question

Question

What does internet slang refer to?

Show answer

Answer

Words or phrases that have been made popular or have been created by people who use the internet.

Show question

Question

What is a letter homophone?

Show answer

Answer

A letter used in the place of a word that is pronounced in the same way. 

Show question

Question

What are abbreviations?

Show answer

Answer

Words that are shortened.

Show question

Question

What are initialisms?

Show answer

Answer

Words created from the first initials of separate words.

Show question

Question

What are onomatopoeic words?

Show answer

Answer

Words that are used to mimic sounds. 

Show question

Question

What is Gen Z slang?

Show answer

Answer

Slang created and used by the generation of people born from 1997 to 2012.

Show question

Question

Internet slang is never used in everyday life.


True or false?

Show answer

Answer

False.


Internet slang can be used in everyday life.

Show question

Question

What does regional slang refer to?

Show answer

Answer

Slang that is specific to a region of a country.

Show question

More about Lexis and Semantics
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