Archive for the ‘Slang’ Category

Texting changes Canadians

Posted on April 21st, 2010by Michelle
In Culture, English, Invented languages, Slang, Technology, Words | Leave a Comment »

TextingBack in 2004, I was lucky enough to spend a year in Canada. At one point I was amazed to find that some of my Canadian friends didn’t know their mobile phones had a text messaging function.

Apparently that’s changed, and dramatically – the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association will announce this week that Canadians sent 35.3 billion texts in 2009, or around 122 million per day.

All this texting has given rise to a new set of words employing the suffix ‘ting’, including ‘drexting’ (drinking and texting) and ‘chexting’ (cheating on your partner via text). The most famous (or infamous perhaps) is ‘sexting’ – sending X-rated images, messages and video via your phone – partly due to one famous golfer.

These words are most likely fads and will die out as texting become less of a novelty. It’s good to know that they still have meaning, though:

Maria Bakardjieva, who studies the socio-cultural aspects of technology, says the implications of this trend cut both ways.

“We’re stronger and richer with every new medium that allows us to connect to others,” says Bakardjieva, a professor of communication and culture at the University of Calgary. “But with texting, we’re also brutalizing written language in order to communicate. Still, it demonstrates that humans can fill any message with meaning and utility, no matter how lean.” (Source: Vancouver Sun)

A final list

Posted on December 31st, 2009by Michelle
In English, Slang, Words | Leave a Comment »

A final list (for this year): the New York Times Buzzwords of 2009.

A fashionable word, a buzzword is used to impress rather than inform. The words of 2009 are unlikely to become part of the popular language.

Particularly of the moment is the Twilight-derived phrase “drive it like a Cullen”, referring to the series’ Cullen family and their penchant for fast cars.

Other entries include:

Undue worry in response to swine flu. Includes unnecessary acts like removing nonessential kisses from Mexican telenovelas and the mass slaughter of pigs in Egypt.

crash blossom
A headline that can be misconstrued, like “Shark Attacks Puzzle Experts.” Will Shortz is not in jeopardy; the sharks are just confounding scientists.

I’mma let you finish
Part of Kanye West’s interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards, a widely popular joke meme on the Internet.

swine flu party

A gathering held so people can be infected by a mild form of swine flu, in theory creating antibodies against more dangerous forms. Such a practice is universally discouraged by doctors.

My favourite buzzword (although it’s not on the list) has to be:

Term used by $300-an-hour consultants when $5 words, such as reword, rephrase or rewrite, would work just as well. “I think we can relanguage that to be more effective.” (Source:

I’ll definitely be using that in 2010. What’s your buzzword of 2009?

Pure Dead Brilliant, by the way

Posted on October 15th, 2009by Michelle
In Culture, Scots, Slang, Translation | Leave a Comment »

Glasweigan adYesterday I posted about dialect poetry and mentioned that dialects are dying out in Europe.

At least one dialect is in no danger of becoming extinct though – a translation company in England have placed an advert calling for Glaswegian translators to help their clients understand the locals when they visit the Scottish city.

Glaswegians, known affectionately as Weegies, speak varying levels of a continually-evolving form of dialect widely known as ‘the patter’.

The speech comprises a range of Scots expressions, vocabulary and humour, as well examples of rhyming slang, local cultural references, nicknames and street language.

“Glaswegian” has given rise to a plethora of phrasebooks, joke books, online glossaries and merchandise, not to mention TV and radio shows. There is even a Glasgow Bible, which relates some biblical tales in the vernacular. (Source: BBC News)

Wondering what Glaswegian sounds like and why it’s so difficult for outsiders to understand? Head through to the BBC article where they have some audio clips of Glaswegians speaking (along with an English translation!). And if you’re wondering about the meaning of the title, read about it here.

Soz, it was beer o’clock

Posted on September 2nd, 2009by Michelle
In Culture, English, Events, Slang, Technology, Words | Leave a Comment »

Languages are ever-evolving, and English is no exception. That’s why the makers of the Collins English Dictionary have added over 260 new phrases to the 30th anniversary edition, due out on Thursday.

Some of the 267 new phrases added include mankini, Twitter, soz and beer o’clock, with many spawned from the rise in digital culture. Interestingly, a lot of new phrases are coming from sounds and interjections people make as they talk, which are being written down as said; ‘hee’ for example, expressing amusement.

Linguistics expert David Crystal said he was not surprised that the world wide web had played a big part in providing new words for inclusion.

He said: “In the early years, the internet was pretty isolated. If I was blogging, I was doing it on my own and I would have very little idea if anyone was reading my work or not.

“Any new words I tried to introduce may not have been picked up. Even with instant messaging, that was originally just two people and the odds of generating new popular words were possible but unlikely.

“However the surge in social networking sites results in an increased likelihood of new words being used by a wider audience.” (Source: BBC News)

Whilst I think it’s admirable for dictionary makers to keep up with the changes in the English language, I can’t help but feel that words such as frugalista have no place in a dictionary. In a slang or online dictionary, sure, but the longevity of the word frugalista surely won’t be worth its place in a physical dictionary. Perhaps I’m being a snob? I suppose, however, it will be of benefit to future generations who will be able to look back and know that in the two years prior to the dictionary being published, some English speakers were using that word.

Scots ATMs?

Posted on August 31st, 2009by Michelle
In Culture, English, Scots, Slang, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Following the somewhat mixed reaction to the introduction of Cockney cash machines in London, the company behind the idea is now thinking of expanding.

Bank Machine is apparently thinking of putting 250 cash machines in Glasgow and Edinburgh, with Scots as a language option. Instead of money, users would be offered “bawbees” and a mini statement would become a “wee statement”.

Dr Christine Robinson, director of the Scottish Language Dictionaries in Edinburgh, said: “We’d be delighted to see it happen and would be happy to help with the translations. Scots is, at present, completely invisible in the public space.

“Furthermore, there are still a large number of Scots who, because they were criticised for their speech at school, think they are speaking slang or bad English when they are actually speaking perfectly good Scots.” (Source: Deadline)

It would be brilliant if this reinvigorated languages around the UK – as I’ve noted previously, there are many more languages in the country than English.

Give this a butcher’s

Posted on August 25th, 2009by Michelle
In Culture, English, Slang, Technology | 1 Comment »

Cockney signJust a couple of posts ago I was talking about the Rosetta Project, which aims to help preserve and promote languages to maintain diversity.

Well, how about this for diversity? An enterprising ATM operator company is giving people the option to conduct their transactions… in Cockney rhyming slang. Can you Adam and Eve it?

Ron Delnevo, managing director of Bank Machine, said: “We wanted to introduce something fun and of local interest to our London machines.

“Whilst we expect some residents will visit the machine to just have a ‘butcher’s’ (look), most will be genuinely pleased as this is the first time a financial services provider will have recognised the Cockney language in such a manner.”

(Source: Yahoo News)

The option is sadly only available at five ATMs in East London for just three months – we can only hope that it catches on. If you can’t get to London, test your Cockney knowledge here.