If you're learning about attitudes to slang for English Language GCSE, here are some interesting examples of recent slang, from 2013 and 2014. Get a slang transcript here.
How is slang invented?
- words are borrowed from other languages, like 'emoji' from Japanese.
- new words are created from bits of other words, like 'wackadoodle', from 'wacky' and 'cockadoodle'
- nouns become verbs, as in 'to google', 'to friend', as in 'I'll friend you on Facebook', or 'message me' from the noun 'a message'
- abbreviations become words, as in LOL (laugh out loud)
- two words are squashed together (elision), as in 'innit' from 'isn't it'
- words are shortened, as in 'diss' (for 'to disrespect'), 'wellies' from 'Wellington boots'
- adding a new prefix or suffix to an existing word, as in 'Hipster', 'empowering' (from 'power'), 'demotivated'.
- new inventions need new names, e.g. 'Bitcoin', 'selfie'
- metaphors, e.g. 'gutted' (not literally having your guts ripped out, but feeling as if you did); 'knackered' (not literally being an old worn out horse sent to be killed, but feeling like one).
Examples of Slang now Widely Accepted
- emoticon vs emoji (noun) portmanteau ‘emotion’ ‘icon’ vs Japanese e (picture) moji (character) also pictogram, ideogram, smileys. The pictorial versions were first used in 1999.
- to friend someone. This is a noun to a verb, as in Shakespeare: mud > muddied
- 2013 dappy (adj) - silly, disorganized, or lacking concentration
- 2013 FOMO (abbrev) fear of missing out, YOLO you only live once, LOL laugh out loud > from text
- 2013 selfie (noun)- self portrait photo
- 2013 bitcoin (noun) - a unit of digital currency, also the generic term for this digital currency
- to google (verb from trade name Google), as in to hoover (v) from Hoover (brand)
- to message (verb from noun ‘message’)
- to tweet (verb from Twitter)
- to post (verb, new meaning: post online)
- 2014 demotivated (adj. prefix de- )
- 2014 empowering (abstract noun from verb empower, em- power (noun))
- 2014 sciency (adj from noun ‘science’)
- 2014 wackadoodle (noun and adj) - a crazy but fun person
Less Accepted Slang
- innit, dunno
- like - as a filler
- sick - good
- epic - very good
- cool - okay, that’s good - back-channelling
- y’know - as a filler or as back-channelling
- bro (n) - elision, synthetic personalization
- blood (n) - good friend
- man (n) - synthetic personalization
- diss (v) - elision for ‘disrespect’
- bomb (v) - the film bombed, also bomb (n) that is the bomb
- knackered (adj.) - tired out, from knacker - place old horses are sent to be killed
- gutted (adj.) - very upset, cf. having your guts ripped out
- khazi (noun) - toilet, from Zulu or Swahili
- kip (noun) - a short sleep
- naff (adj.) - uncool
- peanuts (noun) - cheap, low price, e.g. ‘That job paid peanuts’ - from the phrase ‘if you pay peanuts you get monkeys’
- wellies (noun) - wellington boots
- mac (noun) - raincoat, abbrev. from the brand ‘Mackintosh’
The author, Melanie Kendry, is an Oxford graduate, outstanding-rated English Language and Literature teacher and of ages 10-18 in the British education system. In 2012, she was nominated for Pearson's Teaching Awards. As a private tutor, she raises grades often from C to A. Her writing is also featured in The Huffington Post. She offers private tuition in the Haywards Heath area, West Sussex.