Slang is a perpetual whirlwind of creativity among the young and avante garde. These groups are constantly breaking new ground with artistic expressions of their lives and the life around them. It’s impossible to be in a hip nightclub, or at a cutting edge art gallery, without the latest slang flying around like confetti. Why do people use slang? There are many answers as there are people who are continually reinventing English as we speak.
One of the first signs of impending adolescence is the desire to put space between you and your parents’ generation, and the fastest way to do that is through the art of language.
Teenagers develop their own idioms and expressions that make adults scratch their heads, trying to figure out what the slang means (and if it’s something they should be upset about.)
To be emo was to be perpetually depressed, moody, and emotional, and perpetually at odds with society (even if it was nothing more than a pose.)
This is one of the phrases parents, especially mothers, might pick up on and use themselves, to the everlasting embarrassment of their children.
Some words have morphed from one meaning to another. Take the word “busted.” To the grandparents of today’s teens, the word was simply slang for “broken.”
The last decade or so reinvented “busted” to mean someone was caught, probably doing something they shouldn’t. If a store detective saw you stealing a candy bar and nabbed you, you were “busted” (and probably in a lot of trouble).
Not all slang words are uniquely developed. Some are created based on other words, or other slang words.
Some words in slang develop from meaning one thing, to meaning another:
Apparently autos are in short supply, or teenagers have discovered the shoe leather express. The word “rides” has become more literal to this group: Now when kids ask “How do you like my rides?” they're referring to sneakers (particularly of the brand name and expensive variety.)
So if you’re tope, you’re somewhere in the stratosphere of utter coolness.
Other slang words are developed outside of the usual context of words and are just combinations of thoughts that create a new word.
Some slang comes from a need to describe new recreational or Internet activities including social networking such as:
African American takes on slang are far-ranging, and travel well beyond the circles of black teenagers.
“Gangsta” is hardly a new word; in fact, it’s at least two decades old. But a new take on someone who aspires to the gangsta style, but fails miserably, is a “wanksta.”
Slang language is the voice of the people. It's changing daily so be sure to keep your ears open and stay aware of the meanings...and keep checking since they may change tomorrow.
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