Friday, January 04, 2008

The A to Y of teen slang

Today's Daily Mirror has a story about a teenager who has published her own dictionary of teen slang, selling 3000 copies through high street retailers. The Mirror has helpfully published examples of A (Antwacky) to Y (Yoot) but seems stuck with the letter Z - any ideas?

This isn't the first attempt to produce a guide to slang - there are loads about - but this one seems to be specifically aimed at parents in an attempt, the author Lucy van Amerongen says, to help them decode their children's language. But some slang tends to change so rapidly that any guide is bound to contain some already obsolete terms by the time it appears in shops.

There are also some interesting varieties of definitions for some slang terms, many of which might be regional in origin. For example gash is defined as ugly or unpleasant, but in south London usage it usually refers to girls. Shizzle is defined as someone you worship, which might derive from its origins in Bay Area rap as slang for shit (the shit = the best stuff, a weird example of flipping or amelioration, like wicked, sick and bad changing from their original meanings to become terms of approval).

Later this term, I'll be setting up a detailed online slang questionnaire to find out what particular expressions mean in different areas of the country and I'd like your help to complete it, but in the meantime, here are some slang terms I'd like you to help define. If you have a definition, please add it as a comment but please also include the area you're from, so we can get some idea of the geographical spread. Ideally, please add a brief example of how you would use it (eg Butters = ugly as in "that boy is butters").

Slang terms:

swag
bare
merk/murk
hench
nang
prang
peng
air
sick
road

Useful for:
ENA5 - Language Change

2 comments:

Dan said...

This blog post on East London slang is quite an interesting one:
http://dotben.co.uk/blog/2007/02/03/modern-east-london-slang/

Louise said...

Hi Dan, the girls in my West London school (Acton) use bare to mean "lots of" or "loads of" as in "I've got bare homework". I'll direct my A Level students in the direction of the blog so they can contribute more than I would be able to!