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Linguists have always maintained that language is static, ever changing, through slangs and words that turn the old ones on their heads. Syeda S. Jeenat S. explore…

“Well you should have b*&^^% thought of that before you went and f&^%$ it up you g@$%&* piece of shit!” There are no beeps in writing or reading, so anyone’s guess is pretty good when it comes to the given line. It can be used by anyone, the intent and content quite abusive and angry. And this is the norm at the moment. It is forever the time of slang and slur usage for that is a core characteristic of language. Slang of course refers to words and phrases which are used in an informal situation in any language, as a code or shortcut among a people of particular age and language.

It is difficult to determine when exactly slang came into being, but there is an English dictionary first published in the seventeenth century that lists more than four thousand slang words in usage at that time. Originally entitled A New Dictionary of Terms, Ancient and Modern, of the Canting Crew, its aim was to educate the polite London classes in ‘canting’ – the language of thieves and ruffians – should they be unlucky enough to wander into the ‘wrong’ parts of town. Published in 1699, most of the words have gone out circulation, but there are a few still in use today.

Slang language propagates via contact, and now with the help of the internet and media, they are given a platform to spread with quite a speed and vehemence. Many new terms have originated over this stage and many people use it in their everyday language to form a mind of universal coherence. Even in different languages, a few words of English may seep in as a form of expression. Such words and phrases are usually tolerated in the educated class because of their interaction with the aforementioned sources, and there is always a local bout of slang that is used as substandard language among the masses.

The thing about language is that it becomes quite common usage at a particular stage in life, particularly in the late adolescent stage. Many may decide not to give in, but most do go with the flow, because it is expected, because it is present. With that also comes the knowledge that slang is something that is not to be used before respected elders and in a civil position that society niceties deem improper. Yet many persist in using slang language that sometimes degrades to slurs throughout their lives. This may or may not be the proper function of language, but there are recognised limits to such behaviour in society.

This has been but a mere look at the basics of slang. Incorporating slang words or profanities into speech in public is still viewed as a bad move. A young person using words that will be considered disrespectful while in an interview or an exam will lead to consequences ultimately not favourable for the individual. While a boss may get away with screeching out slurs as he or she throws crumpled papers around, such a reaction from a person younger and junior will definitely lead to a rightful dismissal from any position. For no matter the occupation, slang and slur words have no place in what is recognised as civil society.

The thing of note here is that using slangs and/or slurs is not bad by itself. That is how language keeps evolving with new words and usage. But the usage itself is in the hand or rather the mouth of the speaker and depending on what a person’s opinion on the whole matter is, such words can be used judiciously without too many negative connotations. Particularly youngsters should be aware as to what words they use in company present and circumspect. There is no law that will deny the use of such language but such languages will be restricted in places and by some people. ‘Unparliamentary language’ is after all a recognised mode of slander.

So go ahead, speak your mind, use a myriad of words and make use of all the components of ‘language’ you have at your disposal. Language changes and you are one of the people who are responsible for such a change. And as much as you might have a propensity for using slangs and related terms, know how to use the ‘proper’ dictum for appropriate moments as well. After all, the future of any language depends on the speaker once and forever.

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