Like, I Mean…Dude!
Many people use common slang words such as like and dude. They are used in comical roles, such as the movie Dude Where’s My Car, or in everyday conversation. But why do we choose to use slang words over grammatical English? To investigate further the understanding of slang terms, how they originated, and their purpose, we turn to David Hutto, assistant professor of English.
What was the original meaning of the word dude?
The word dude has been around for over 100 years. Early on, dude referred to a person who went out West to a ranch without any knowledge of horses and cattle.
What is the purpose for slang words?
People like slang for various reason. It indicates casual relaxation. The speaker shows, “I’m not at work right now.” Language also helps create an identity. To say that you belong to a particular group, you must be using the right words. Imagine if you are not using the same slang terms as the group of people you are hanging out with, your friends think, “Do you really belong here?” Younger generations use words to psychologically separate themselves from their parents.
How long do slang words normally remain in use in society?
Typically, slang words last for a few years, but occasionally there are exceptions. The word hip is now considered old fashioned, however cool has remained a slang word for over 100 years.
What can you say about the word like?
The word like has roots in old English to indicate a comparison. Now the word like is barely even a word; it is more like a grunting noise. Sometimes people use like while they are pausing to gather their thoughts. It is very similar to the noise um.
- Sara E. Hernández ’09 , Juniata Online Journalist