Say What? The Evolution of Internet Slang

In recent years, slang terms that were once considered unacceptable have made their way into everyday vocabulary.  Words and phrases like “googling” something are heard commonly everyday both in and out of the classroom.

Leah Schweitzer, a junior social work major, feels that this is because people are on these resources daily so they have become a regular way of life. She said, “Students almost always ‘google’ something for fun and I have even heard my professors use this term quite often.”  What was once considered not acceptable just a mere 10 years ago has now become almost embedded in everyday language.”

Some other students, however, still see significant gaps when it comes to where people are from in the US. Caden McMillan, a junior social work major, said that she sees dramatic differences when it comes to what is considered acceptable in one region versus another.  “My family is from the south and says ‘y’all’  but I grew up here in New Jersey and say ‘you guys.’ In the south, ‘you guys’ is considered to be not accepted and y’all is viewed to be the correct way to speak,” she said.

McMillan added, “Despite this, I feel people are eager to learn about the diverse cultures that there are on our campus.”

A student who wishes to remain anonymous said that the phrase “Yo what up” is very popular among college students today than it has been in the past.  The student said, “It is an easy way to get one’s attention and very common of students to use.”

The term to “tweet” someone refers to “talking” to a person or organization through social media to get quick and important updates.  

“I remember just last week when everyone was tweeting about whether or not they had class during the snowstorm. I don’t feel the word is slang anymore because of how often it is used,” said junior communication major Anna Mikalauskas.

The phrase “tweet” is becoming so widely used that it has made its way to being in professional flyers for campus and other major up-coming events.  The same goes for symbols such as the Instagram hashtag symbol and code.

A slang term that has become nonexistent in the last five years would be to “instant message” or AOL Instant Message (AIM) someone. Rob Rubin, a junior, believes this is as recent as in the past few years. “Five or six years ago, I [was always on] AIM, but now other sites are taking over that capability and the phrase has been removed from slang entirely to where it is not used anymore.”

This slang phrase has died out almost completely in the English language as a result of new technology.  Eileen Jones, professor of foreign languages agrees that slang terms regarding use of technology such as the internet are now part of our everyday vocabulary. “When my kids were in school and I started here on campus, the most slang you would hear is a person ‘IM-ing’ someone,  now I even tell students and other people in my department alike to google something if they do not know the answer to a question or where to find information.”

It is even more prevalent to hear popular social media site names being used as parts of speech now than even a mere 10 years ago. Freshman Annie Siegel hears this almost all the time across campus.  “I hear people using social media [terms] as verbs, like I tweeted her or I’ll Instagram it or we Snapchatted, etc.”  This has evolved overtime since the creation of sites such as Twitter or Snapchat, which have become popular only in the last few years.  This could very well be due to the ever rapid increase of technology and the simple ways of being able to communicate as a result of it.

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