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Is Slang Sabotaging the English Language?

I am Mum to 4 lovely daughters. The oldest is 28, then 25 and wait for it ……the twins are 13…yes 13. Over the years I have seen how each generation has developed their own unique language with their peers and how the number of slang words in everyday speech seems to have escalated to a point where it is becoming a language of its own.

I remember when I first used the word “ace” to describe something at school during a deportment and elocution lesson. I was swiftly reprimanded by having to walk around the room with a book on my head a few extra times! I would never have dreamed of using any slang words at home and any swear words would have received “ the glare” from my mother which was enough to send me running for the hills.

Being On Fleek

Quite a few years later, I still find myself wincing when slang is used in the house! Imagine my horror when ,after just getting used to twin speak ( they have their own language sometimes) , the girls move up to secondary school and I go from being on fleek to zero chill!

Slang and jargon seem to be everywhere . From social media platforms and songs to tv series and adverts , there is really no getting away from it.

As a parent , I have the choice of doing my best to keep up with “ the lingo” or remain totally clueless and bewildered by the conversations at the dinner table! As a language teacher, I am debating whether this calls for a new course on Teen Speak and as an assessor I am pondering on how interesting it will be as these words filter through into the candidates responses!


Dinner Table Slang

Here are a few of the choice ones that made it to the dinner table and were translated for me:

  • On Fleek : something which is nearly close to perfection ( about the food of course)
  • to slay : to succeed in doing something amazing ( was only heard once and then banned )
  • zero chill : to do something very uncool and very not popular ( used quite a lot to describe me!)
  • FOMO / JOYO : Fear of missing out /joy of missing out ….( why can’t they just say the words rather than I had FOMO)
  • Salty – the way someone acts when they are upset or irritated ( I thought they were describing my food!!)
  • to ghost someone : when two people are spending time together and then one of them suddenly disappears ( I had visions of Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore for this one!)
  • Sup : What’s up? ( Ok so this one really gets my goat ….SUP ? I thought that was Stand Up Paddleboard!)

Language of course is not static and keeps on evolving – so should slang become part of the language learners journey or is it sabotaging their road to understanding the  English language?