During my first few days as an international student at Juniata College, I heard so many slang words that I couldn’t understand. I tried to look them up in dictionary but couldn’t find them anywhere. The mysterious words left me wondering. After a few days, I finally decided to have a talk with Deborah Roney, director of the Language in Motion Program and assistant professor of English. Here we go!
Why do people use slang?
Slang appeared many years ago in every culture all over the world. It is a way of marking identity, being secretive or different and having fun when playing with it. People also use slang to escape from cliché, reduce seriousness, to show that one belongs or to exclude others.
Why do younger people tend to use slang more often?
Younger people do it quite often because they have strong personality and desire to express themselves. They want to find out who they are, where they sit and they wish to be different from other generations. Slang is a way for them to make their own character, which is not similar to that of any other generation.
What are some negative and positive impacts of slang?
Slang can be used to exclude people from a group both intentionally and unintentionally. It can be hurtful when someone wants to be in a group but they don’t understand slang the group is using. People can hurt others just by using language. It also has bad influences in communication, when people don’t understand each other.
On the other sides, slang plays an important role in our life. It keeps language moving forward by being a significant source for new vocabulary. Words loose their power over time, so we need new words to replace them. Our society is developing day by day, so we also need new word to name new things. Moreover, when doing slang, people also come up with new ideas.
What is the difference between slang and academic words? Can slang be academic?
It could be, and at that time, it may be not slang any more. The meaning can be changed over time, so it could be academic words with another meaning. In addition, an academic word can be used as slang. For example, “cool” and “hot” are used to describe both people, things that are interesting and the weather!
The biggest difference between slang and academic words is the context that they are used. We can easily find slang in daily conversations; however, using slang in academic writing is quite inappropriate.
What advice would you provide to our Juniata students about slang?
Have fun with it. Be careful about when you use it. I don’t want to see a “dude” in your CWS essay!
-Thanh Nguyen’ 14, Juniata Online Journalist