- Category: Volume 85 (Fall 2013 - Spring 2014)
- Published: 16 April 2014
"That's cray!" "No way, that's totes ridic!" Any of this sound familiar? Unless you live under a huge rock, you have probably heard every single one of these phrases, or at least one out of the two.
These slang terms are what our daily communication consists of. Our generation has reached the point where the difference between slang and proper English grammar is often confused and forgotten.
Certain slang words, such as twerking, thank Miley Cyrus who actually did not even create the word, for that one has even reached the Merram Webster dictionary
So what is it exactly about these words and phrases that make them so catchy? Where did they even originate from? When is it no longer okay to keep them in our vocabulary?
Is society really that lazy and laid back that full words are no longer acceptable when holding face-to-face conversation?
Today slang is often viewed negatively. Although throughout the years slang words have flip flopped between being used by criminals and poets.
The first "slang" first emerged during the 18th century when any word not used in Britain was considered slang, and for a while, until the 1900s when writers began to incorporate slang into their art, it was considered the language of foreigners and criminals.
Each decade has its own set of slang words that emerge and eventually they become part of the following generations normal language.
For instance, did you know that gross which is constantly used today as a synonym for disgusting, was first introduced to the English language as slang in the 1970s?
Did you also know that the term bread, often used by today's generation when referring to money, has been around since the 1960s? How about the word bad; I have to admit, I still get confused when someone means it positively and when they use it for its true meaning.
I was not aware that bad could mean good until I was a senior in high school, to be honest, but apparently the term has been being used in the form of a good adjective since 1897. Here we are thinking that we came up with during this generation.
So where exactly did these words come from? How did they originate? How are they still used today? Truth is, a lot of the slang we use today originated from actual events or objects that were used back in the 1800s.
For instance, the phrase, "you're pushing the envelope" has a whole mathematical explanation behind it having to do with airplanes and the point of flight envelope-which I will not get into.
What about the slang that the present generation has introduced to the English language? Some might have been influenced by media and celebrities. For instance, the well-known reality show, "Jersey Shore", had a major impact on society's vocabulary. The phrases, "Cabs are here," and "Grenades" are just a few of the many that are still being used today long after the show reached its series finale.
For those who have never watched the show or are not familiar with the terms, "Grenades," according to the cast, are extremely ugly women. Now what does a grenade have to do with not being good looking? The way I see it, a grenade explodes and kills.
The way the boys describe it, dealing with these unattractive women at a club is like being at combat; a little extreme in my opinion, but again, it is slang and there are no rules to the addition of words to our slang dictionary.
Or how about the constant use of the word cray? I didn't hear cray being used until Jay-Z and Kanye made it big in one of their rap anthems.
Reality shows seem to be infamous for creating or using slang terms and making them super popular. I remember hearing the words totes and ridic for one of the first times on an episode of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians." It seems that if a celebrity is using the word, its obviously cool and everyone should follow along with the trend.
Sometimes these shortened, funny words are fun to use but should a grown adult be using totes-magotes in a conversation?
This brings me to my next questions of when is it not okay to use slang anymore?
When should the line be drawn between sounding cute and catchy and just sounding annoying and immature with the use of these shortened,slang words?
We all know, or at least I hope we do, that slang has its boundaries and should never be used in a professional setting. Yet is it acceptable for an almost thirty-year-old to still use totes instead of totally when with people their age?
I would not. If I were in my mid-twenties I would not be going out with my girlfriends using the word amazeballs to describe the restaurant we are going to.
Even if my friends are okay with it, how would I sound in front of a family to my right or a potential employer on the stool next to me?
We should always be aware of our surroundings, and although slang is not necessarily foul language, it is looked down upon and habitually seen as immature.
I am not saying it is childish to slang your words, just be conscience of location and surroundings. I for one only use slang in text messages, not only because I know it will only be read by that person's inside voice, but because saying it out loud would sound absolutely ridiculous coming out of my mouth (yes, I'm one a grammar police).
There's nothing wrong with slang, I personally think it is fun and relaxing. Simply make sure that you are ready to give it up when the time comes.