Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Is Street Language the Currency of Stupidity?

You have probably come across it being used, or have used it yourself.

    Slang refers to the use of informal words and expressions, more commonly used in spoken language and can be localized to a particular group of people. Often used to identify with peers, slang is one aspect that has been largely graced by many of the youth.
           “Is slang a language for those of low vocabulary?”
     A random survey across one social network revealed that most people, particularly those of the younger generations, find comfort in slang as it offers a less formal and serious approach to communicating as opposed to formal or serious speech and writing. 

     For most school-going teenagers, slang is a trendy phenomena and a recognised tool that aids in gaining acceptance and opportunities of popularity as it provides discourse and fosters elements of rebellion.

                    “Does slang defeat written language?”
     However it is imperative to note the difference between slang and vulgar language. According to the Oxford Dictionary (2012), slang refers to the special vocabulary used by any set of persons of a low or disreputable character; language of a low and vulgar type.
     The English Stack Exchange notes that originally, slang was language associated with low socio-economic class or character and that a secondary sense has developed, that of general "group talk" in a mildly disapproving or mocking way—even if this group isn't lower class.
             “Is slang a strategy of hiding illiteracy?”
      Vulgar, on the other hand is noted as being “filthy” and/ or obscene language and that a vulgar person, or a person who engages vulgar language speaks crudely and offensively.
     Slang has the vast ability to spread rapidly beyond its area of origin and can exceed the group or subculture from which it originated to cut across previous limitations.
     Because of this, slang may grow out of constant interaction, repetitive incidents or phenomenon or general familiarisation with certain environments and incidents.
            “Is slang a means of fitting in?”
      Since slang circumvents the social taboos that orthodox forms of communication shy away from, users of slang tend to escape harsh reality and trivialise sacred issues. Slang is then largely punctuated with elements of crime, drugs and sex.
      Also known as street language, slang, in some circles, is diverse as it cuts across wide geographic, economic, social and ethnical strata and is constantly evolving over time and space.

     Though slang may fall into disuse over time, its magnificent power to grow more and more common in use until it imposes itself as a dominant way of saying something to such an extent that it becomes the mainstream and acceptable language or accepted as official informal language/speech.
         This form of language may incorporate attaching new meaning to old terms or the creation of new terms altogether. This creates a major discourse to the general understanding or meaning of a term. Differences in context lay the basis of this phenomena.
      Now with all these facts in our basket, we come then to question ourselves, is slang the currency of stupidity? Is it a tool in which we comfort our failure as a society with the educational system? Is it a language which we have come down to a compromise in our vocabularies competency?

      Are we moving towards a time when slang will completely replace written language? Is this the age of stupid? Powered by laziness and language incompetency? Are we hiding our illiteracy through combinations of street words that makes us look hip and a part of?

Let the discussion begin.

1. English Stack Exchange, (2012): Whats the difference between Informal, Colloquial, Slang and Vulgar; URL: http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/29720/whats-the-difference-between-informal-colloquial-slang-and-vulgar Accessed 23 June 2012

2. The Oxford Dictionary, (2012): The Oxford Dictionary; URL; http://oxforddictionaries.com/   
Accessed 23 June 2012