As I sat down to begin writing for my first Weekly Writing Challenge, I realized two significant things about my “culture”, which is American (born in America; parents and grandparents were all born in America). The first is that the slang most commonly used by Americans–as well as most well-known amongst the younger crowd (adolescents and teenagers), do not sound very intelligent. In fact, some of them sound downright okie (hey, right there is a slang word and it wasn’t even planned). The second thing is that I didn’t ever really think about it before but I actually had to refer to the internet and do a little research on my own culture. Let me explain before you laugh and think to yourself, “Wow, what a moron”. I know my culture, I know what slang words I use and what slang the people around me use; what I needed to research a little bit was exactly what my culture is called or how we are referred to, as well as what the media would claim are the most common slang words. I was thinking in my head that the formal way of referring to myself culturally is Anglo-Saxon, and I’m not sure why that popped in my head but clearly I was wrong. In fact, I almost didn’t admit this fact; hey, I’m not embarrassed of who I am or the mistakes in speaking or writing I make but it does sound rather assinine that I wouldn’t even know that Anglo-Saxon is actually in reference to the German influence of the British beginning over one thousand years ago.
I decided to do a little research on American slang and see what words the internet considers to be common slang compared to what are actually well-known slang words, and I do believe that the words which are most famous and well-known universally across America–are the same here in Sacramento, California and Texas, all the way to Illinois, and up to New York. A few slang words–all which basically mean the same: great, wonderful, and cool–which have all withstood the test of time (at least my parents’ generation) are awesome, right on, bitchin’, neat-o, and peachy keen (which I was very surprised was on there because I haven’t heard peachy keen since I was a kid). I thought it would be interesting to see if I was able to find any slang words which are listed as popular but either I’ve never heard or else I have heard but are not considered popular. Here is a list of some of the ones I found to be most interesting, funny, and just frickin’ great–courtesy of Online Slang Dictionary, a great resource for slang words: http://onlineslangdictionary.com/thesaurus/words+meaning+good,+okay,+cool,+awesome,+fun.html:
- badonkadonk (love it!)
- the bee’s knees (huh?)
- cat’s ass (seriously?)
- champagne problem
- ear candy
- dookie fresh (too funny!)
- like a boss
- Obama (wow, really? This one just makes me want to vomit)
- snoochie boochies (Woo Hoo I think this one is my favorite!)
- sweet action
- tickety boo
Anyone who read that list, especially those who also clicked the link and read the list in its entirety, and didn’t have a couple of good laughs or at least chuckle, is either way too young to understand the humor, isn’t able to see the screen well enough to understand the words, or is just plain grumpy or– as the bad/negative list says- if you didn’t laugh, you’re a chump.
I’d like to share a few of the slang words I use frequently and the meanings as well as why they are meaningful to me. The word I’m well-known for using quite often and for being told it’s cute how much I use the word totally, although there have been times I was told I use it too often. Many people think of totally as being a slang word used by Valley Girls–a term for the affluent (yet Airhead) middle- and upper-middle class white girls in the area in and around the San Fernando Valley part of Los Angeles during the 1980s. I was a child of the 80s, so I was didn’t begin using totally until the late 80s/early 90s. Totally, the way I use it, means “definitely, very much, heck yeah…” I tend to use totally a lot more frequently in social situations where I am, which I hate, the center of attention and find myself having a great time being silly and making everyone laugh. When I use totally it’s not so much in sentences, the way “Valley Girls” used it: “You are so totally lying, oh ma gosh like, totally!” I use it by itself most of the time, as when someone says, “Jen, check out those guys over there, aren’t they cute?” to which I reply, “Totally!” I didn’t use this word as much in high school as I do now, and I think that’s probably due to the fact that I am married to a man 14 years older than I, who has two daughters who are closer to my age than I am to my husband’s. Significantly closer. My oldest stepdaughter is 32 years old, while her younger sister turned 30 last October. I’m 37. Ironically enough, my usage of the world totally greatly increased after I graduated from college and began spending more time with my stepdaughters, who both lived with us. There is only one other slang term I use regularly and that word is right on. My husband uses right on quite a bit and I love the way he uses it; when he is very excited about something or, for example, really proud of our kids when they tell him they have a report card with mostly As on it, he says, exuberantly, “Right on!” To me the phrase right on is associated with excitement and pride, and my husband being happy, so I enjoy using that phrase tremendously. It is a regularly used phrase, it can be heard in just about any new movie that comes out–in fact right on is considerably more commonly used than totally.
There are plenty of people who argue that slang words are for the uneducated and those of lower socio-economic status. I think that is completely absurd and wrong. Using slang is a part of comfortable and fun everyday conversation between friends and family. Or perhaps between a husband and wife who have a fun-loving and joking type of relationship. Using slang is obviously not advised when on a job interview or when having a business meeting; slang is, according to Wikipedia: the use of informal words and expressions that are not considered standard in the speaker’s own language but are considered acceptable in certain social settings. I don’t believe that slang is restricted to use only in social settings, it is a very relaxed, real, down-to-earth way of speaking and personally I think it’s refreshing to meet someone for the first time who is comfortable using slang, as long as it isn’t inappropriate or disrespectful. But hey, in my opinion it’s to each his own, so I say let people speak in whichever manner they are most natural and unhibited. In fact, last year I acted as the General Manager of my restaurant in Antelope, California, and when interviewing potential employees I found it to be unrestrained and complaisant when I came across on confident enough in themselves to use the language which put them most at-ease. I don’t expect nor do I prefer or even like for people to put up a front with me that isn’t the real them, by using language in an effort to appear more intelligent than what they use on a day-to-day basis. With me, I’m all about people being themselves and letting me see the person they really are. You don’t have to put on airs with me; if you talk at home using slang, use slang with me, so long as its appropriate. Slang is a part of everyone in some way, and I don’t think that should stripped of anyone in an effort to push them in to pretending they’re more intelligent or proper…be yourself, always, because who you are on the inside is the only you who matters! Right On!