Where would we be without the Internet? Our lives have become so simple (he said sarcastically) because of the Google machines on the interwebs. You can search for anything and find the answer for which you’re looking and sometimes not looking. (There are certain words you should just NOT search together without expecting a totes inappropes result.)
This ability to search and find the answer in a hot minute not only has added to our instantly gratifying addictions. “Hello dopamine, how may I feed you today?” The seek and ye shall find (in a second) world has left the once out of the loop, untrendy, uncool, and let’s be honest, older folks, in a familiar realm. A realm where your mom throws the word selfie around in that tone like, “yeah, I know what it means, I’m a hipster, oh yeah.” Oops, sorry mom, I think you mean hip and the newest definition for hipster is douche bag. Oh and douche bag hardly means what it’s meant to, either.
I know you might be thinking, Peter, colloquialisms and slang are different. However, I argue that colloquialisms are slang all growed up. Take cool for instance. Once considered slang it is used by everyone and their mother, even the selfie-popping matriarch from above. In my opinion slang words can evolve themselves, from a regional or generational term to a widely accepted and celebrated one.
Colloquialisms have been around for centuries and any freshman English student can tell you just by reading older literature, language has evolved over time like everything else. “It sounds funny, why didn’t they just talk normally?” Who many might consider the epitome of the English language at its most beautiful, the bane of every high schooler’s existence, Shakespeare himself, can be credited for inventing words and terms in many ways. Just to name a few of Shakespeare’s inventive methods he made verbs out of nouns, creatively added prefixes, and some words he just plain made up. According to Mental Floss, a lot (a hated phrase by most, was frequently used by the Bard) of Shakespeare’s slang is still used today and it continues to show swagger (yup, his!) four centuries later.
I thought it was high time (also Shakespeare) to touch on the importance of the evolution of language that began as grunts and turned to the complex combination of sounds we utter today. Written language, as well, started as simple pictures of common everyday human encounters (animals, rivers, other people, etc.) and evolved to the combination of patterns we recognize today known as letters or characters depending on your language.
If you’re reading this than you, like myself, speak a mashup of English that goes back tens of thousands of years but also includes modern words that are part of everyday speech. Words like, I and we but also clickbait, refurb, and vom, the latter three of which Word 2007 tells me are misspelled but only for the reason that they were just added to the Oxford English Dictionary this past year. I won’t even go into the addition of modern shorthand like LOL, OMG, and BRB.
Some say slang is the devolution of language and only isolates and alienates people who might not be from a certain region. Or as Chad Dion Lassiter, professor of race relations at the University of Pennsylvania, throws shade on slang by calling it “the dumbing down of culture” which is leaving children speaking and writing in vernacular and shorthand even when approaching homework assignments. Side note, dumbing is not technically a word, Chad. (Looks like he pulled a Shakespeare) Lassiter believes it’s up to the adults to ensure that children are being held accountable to older ways of speaking and writing to ensure there are not communication gaps. I would add that it’s also the adult’s responsibility to remain open to learning new things and changing with the times, which is an inevitability in most things, especially language. The modern world communicates differently and we should not forget where language came from but should also realize its place and function in the world today. For instance, I send out a mass email at work about the meeting tomorrow. It reads something like this:
Meeting in conf. rm. Tues. 9 AM. Have reports ready ASAP. John if OoO, email me yours.
It gets the point across and everyone accepts this email as standard in the workplace. Like the majority of what we learn in school, depending on the field you move into, perfect grammar, punctuation, and even spelling won’t be necessary in the real world but learning how to properly write and speak the language is important for the basis of a good communication and the furthering of humankind’s ongoing thirst for knowledge.
Others celebrate the expansion of language as I do. The fact is, slang words come and go mostly and those that stick only add to the ever-expanding catalog that is the English language. With websites like Urban Dictionary you can add your own entry and with social media being the marketing giant it is in today, you could even see your word grow in popularity to the point that it reaches Oxford submission status. Although, like Wikipedia, it can get out of hand with some of the entries people post. Seriously, you can add your name (which many have) and a definition, which reads “the most amazing person to ever walk the face of the earth.” Talk about instantly gratifying one’s self.
There’s no excuse anymore, with the Internet being the powerhouse and possible mind-controlling monster that it is, to be out of touch. Young or old, your language can remain on point and your cred on fleek.
What is your opinion on colloquialisms? Do they hurt or help language? What’s your favorite (lets keep it PG-13)?