Words are weird. Vocal influxes, clicks, and weird undistinguishable sounds carry so much meaning and depth in our world. Despite these meanings being relative, we’re still able to communicate ideas and emotions, and have deep, in-depth conversations. Technically, one could argue that all language is just slang- because most language comes from languages before, and al have similar, if not the same, roots. But really, slang is new words, less used and not indoctrinated into the dictionary yet. Many come and go, some are up and coming dictionary words, and others can mark or symbolize generations. Words don’t carry any meaning on their own. They derive their meaning through the people who use them.
That’s groovy sums up a whole generation and [way of living]. The word takes on experiences of an era, but has since unfortunately left our daily vocabulary.
The thing about language is that it’s not just dictionary words. It’s not only written, in fact, it’s mostly oral, and actually started that way, and because of that, it’s not static. Language is ever-changing. Modern English exists separate from middle and old English because language is always changing, and evolving. Over time it morphed to better suit our needs, and eventually the old versions became unrecognizable. We wouldn’t even realize this if it weren’t for writing, which is static, and doesn’t change after it’s been written.
Words don’t exist in a vacume though. Language encompasses words, body language, and vocal inflections. In fact, so much of language is not words, that if you listen to Simlish (the language that the characters in the game “the sims” speak), you can understand pretty much all of what they’re saying through context, body language, and vocal inflections, despite that fact that it’s a made up language.
The way we say the same things differently is also slang. Take for example, the Interstate 5. If you’re from southern California, you probably grew up calling it the 5. But if you grew up in northern California, you would simply refer to it as i5. And then there’s me. My parents lived in southern California, but I grew up in the bay area, so I have always combined the two and called it the i5.
Ttyl, lol, brb, etc. isn’t slang. They are acronyms used in texting lingo, not meant for day-to-day oral communication and slang, neither are they new words with different definitions.
Teaching only a dictionary use of language in school defeats the purpose of language. Yes, students should be expected to learn dictionary vocabulary, but they shouldn’t be looked down upon for using slang, especially if it conveys what they’re trying to say more accurately and in fewer words. Although lower education seems to be built on hypocritical values, so this should be expected. English classes not fully teaching language, being told that writing the same content in fewer words is better writing yet having a minimum word count that induces fluff, or teaching five paragraph essays as “a good way to write.” I like to present one example of a recently coined word that has been gaining popularity because of the internet, though isn’t in the dictionary, so would be considered slang. The word is “sonder,” and it defines the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. It’s a beautiful word that makes writing that much deeper and more complex, so logically, no one should be barred from using it just because it isn’t in the dictionary.
Just because slang is acceptable in speech and writing is supposed to be more “formal.” Yet, “twerk” was added to the dictionary, which is probably the least “formal” and “classy” word in existence. It was added to the dictionary because it makes language easier, and more effective.