Slanguage Essay, Research Paper
Slang, when used as a noun, refers to nonstandard terms or nonstandard usage of standard terms. Slang provides different symbols from which communication messages can be constructed. Slang is more than a noun though. Slang is a process. This means slang is also a verb. We slang as well as speak slang. The process of slanging involves the creation and use of slang.
In everyday life, slang reflects the experiences, beliefs, and values of its speakers. Every new generation and subculture has a different vocabulary of slang words. As we slowly come out of adolescence we fade away from the use of slang. Items that we frequently encounter or are important to us are often given slang symbols. There are many terms to say something is good or bad and to evaluate people positively or negatively. Today, slang is also descriptive and contains many symbols for food or eating, money, effective or ineffective performance, relationships, intoxication, and places.
Why do young adults speak slang? There is one simple reason. It’s cool! Slang is cool in the sense of being in style. When we speak, we are communicating not only a message of what we are saying but also a message about who we believe we are, our identity. It is a type of performance and shows that the speaker is in tune with the times.
A second reason for why slang is so cool is it lets us have a sense of being acceptable. People don’t slang all of the time. Rather, the use of slang is reserved for circumstances that accept the use of slang. Usually, slang is used in informal environments and avoided in formal settings. This is because it could result in the person being judged negatively.
Slang can become a fun way of expressing yourself. Slanging can be creative and humorous. In a way it can be thought of as playing. Slang may be entertaining and amusing to both the speaker and the listener.
Slang is most effective when used among friends because it draws upon common social experiences. To say, “That party was da bomb” is more than just saying it was a very good party. It shares the emotional experience that might have taken several sentences to explain. Not only does this make their communication more efficient it strengthens their friendship. It is an identity for their relationship.
If you look over time, cool would have to be a candidate for the hardest working title. It has probably been popular since the 1940’s. Almost anywhere you go you can hear the word cool being used. It still is used as though it is going out of style but it may never do that.
How frequently a word is used and how long a word lasts are both indications of how hard a word works. Another indicator is the number of meanings a word is given. When you consider the variety of words that can be replaced by a particular slang term, two terms come out on top as the hardest working slang words: trip and dog.
Trip is a chameleon. It has several different meanings. Over the years the meaning has slightly changed. In the 1960s trip was associated with LSD experiences. In the 1970s it became known as a very good or very bad experience. Probably the most common use of trip these days involves a characterization of something as unusual, strange, or extreme. “That dudes a trip(strange).” Beyond that trip can indicate outrage. “He tripped when I told him the concert was gonna be two hundred dollars.” Trip can also imply that someone is acting out of character. “My teacher is always on time but today he was trippin’ and came to class ten minutes late.” Trip can signify not making sense. “I know I’m going to fail the test because I was trippin’ when I was writing the essays.” Trip can be used to indicate disagreement. “Why are you trippin’ about my idea?” It can also imply a common state for students, being overwhelmed. “I have four midterms this week so I’m trippin’.” Trip can refer to a state of excitement and craziness. “I always trip out when I see Star Wars.” The last usage of trip would be to describe someone who has the characteristics of being intoxicated. “Everybody at the party was trippin’.” The notion of trip as a very pleasant experience seems to have faded from the slang vocabulary.
Another term with a variety of meanings is dog. It has been traced around the turn of the century meaning careful dressing and dogs was used in the 1920s to indicate feet. Today, dog is used in many ways. “He’s my dog(friend).” She dogged me(stood me up) last night.” “Don’t date him; he’s a dog(uses women).” “She’s such a dog(liar); she said she got an “A” on that test.” “My boss dogged me(criticized me sharply) for being ten minutes late.” “She’s a dog(unattractive person).” “They were dogging(teasing) me about my car.” As you can see the term dog is mainly used as a negative connotation but still has a positive side to it.
Slang terms come and go. Some seem to have staying power though. Without slang language would be boring. Slang lets us express ourselves in a more vivid way. If slang didn’t exist our identities would almost not exist.