I usually know I’m getting old when there’s a new popular saying I don’t completely understand. Certain slang words come and go faster than I can learn them. Although it makes me feel totally un-hip, it’s actually pretty common for people to stop learning new slang in their 20s and simply keep using the slang they already know. As a result, slang can define youth culture and shape a generation’s identity.
This makes sense, since slang seems to be a byproduct of current popular phenomena. It can be influenced by music, such as Drake’s “The Motto,” which ignited the reign of “YOLO” or DJ Snake’s “Turn Down for What,” which popularized the usage of “turnt.”
Alternatively, slang can originate out of necessity. Sometimes, the current lexicon can’t efficiently describe new developments in our evolving society. For example, the invention of the front-facing camera probably spawned the term “selfie” to describe the act of taking an informal self-portrait.
Despite widespread use of slang, it’s still poorly received. Some people believe that excessive usage of slang is a sign of stupidity. Granted, slang might not be appropriate in professional settings, but to say that its usage is an indicator of intelligence is an overstatement.
Slang is simply a part of language and a manifestation of culture.
It’s just an alternative way of communicating, and is comparable to a dialect. It’s utilized by a particular group of people simply as a means of expressing, communicating or asserting their collective identity.
In fact, a psychological study demonstrated that using slang to teach certain concepts helped students understand these concepts better. In this case, slang made certain concepts relatable and easier to understand, especially for people who lacked an expansive vocabulary. Photosynthesis was the concept taught in the study; however, I think slang would be especially effective when teaching history. This shows that if applied properly, slang can yield benefits and refutes the idea that slang reduces intelligence.
There are still consequences to solely using slang and neglecting traditional language. It can hinder proper language development and seriously impact a person’s ability to communicate professionally. Therefore, it’s important to maintain a balance between the two and understand which way of speaking should be applied in a particular situation.
In order to achieve this, it’s important to educate people about the origin of slang and specific slang words. Instead of viewing it as taboo, we should attempt to obtain a better understanding of slang in order to maximize its utility in our lives.