Susie Dent's Modern Tribes: Brits have perfected a secret version of the English language to use with their co-workers — Quartz British English has many distinctive hallmarks: a plethora of “u”s borrowed from old French, a use of “s”s where “z”s are used in American English (realise, instead of realize), colo(u)rful idioms, and a rich history of slang. For lexicographer, writer, and broadcaster Susie Dent, British English is also “littered with tribal footprints,” as she explains her new book, Dent’s Modern Tribes: The Secret Languages of Britain. In the book, Dent gathered and chronicled the unique words and phrases used among specific professions and interest groups in the UK, terms she acquired through hundreds of interviews and, in her words, “eavesdropping.” “Every sport, every profession, every group united by a single passion draws on a lexicon that is uniquely theirs, and theirs for a reason,” she writes.
Slang: the changing face of cool Slang has always fascinated me. My father, who grew up in the council estates of Slough during the second world war, knew slang words for most situations, good and bad, which I would hear regularly around the house as a child. Somewhere in my early 20s, I stumbled across a cheap secondhand reprint of a book by an 18th-century Londoner named Francis Grose, which recorded the everyday speech of the people he encountered in the low drinking dens, bagnios and rookeries around Covent Garden and St Giles. First published in 1785, A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue remains for me the single most important slang collection of them all. Having spent the past four years writing a history of English slang, it gradually became clear to me that the digital age is altering slang: both the way it evolves and is spread, and attitudes towards it. Of course, slang has always had its detractors.
From Seaspeak to Singlish: celebrating other kinds of English It was recently reported that the government is being urged to create opportunities for Britons to learn languages like Polish, Urdu and Punjabi, in order to effect more social cohesion. According to Cambridge professor Wendy Ayres-Bennett, language learning, and indeed social integration, should not be a one-way street; rather, the onus should also fall on British people to learn community languages. For me, this idea of a two-way street taps into a wider question about linguistic influence and evolution. There is interest and joy to be had not only in learning the languages of other cultures, but also in appreciating the effect they might have had on English. Outside the UK too, creoles and dialects have bent, broken and downright flipped the bird at the rules, offering not only musicality and freshness, but new ways of conceiving of language that staunch protectionism doesn’t allow for. Not persuaded?
In praise of the C-word At the risk of sounding like a right “CU Next Tuesday”, I think it’s high time we had a frank discussion about the use of the C-word in modern British English and how its usage appears to be increasing in recent years. However, herein lies the anxiety of using the C-bomb. While I am very happy to use it (a little too liberally admittedly) in my everyday parlance, it still feels slightly shocking to see it written down and one is reminded that, for many, it is still the last word in offensiveness. Furthermore, my mum is probably reading this and it would really upset her to see it in print. So for this reason, I’ll stick with the C-word where possible, rather than cunt.
A call to arms: let's get rid of all the jargon! In this high-tech, gee-whiz world, more and more people seem to speak in jargon or, as I like to call it, gibberish. Whether it’s exclusive terms understandable by only a certain few, buzz-words intended to impress in meetings, or euphemisms to make something seem better than it is, the use of jargon really does little more than confuse the listener. Jargon tends to go through three stages: Jargon starts out as a simple technical sublanguage: users devise abbreviations and acronyms that help speed up processes. Future - The secret “anti-languages” you’re not supposed to know Could you erectify a luxurimole flackoblots? Have you hidden your chocolate cake from Penelope? Or maybe you’re just going to vada the bona omi? If you understand any of these sentences, you speak an English “anti-language”.
Language and occupation Introduction This guide is written for students who are following GCE Advanced level (AS and A2) syllabuses in English Language. This resource may also be of general interest to language students on university degree courses, trainee teachers and anyone with a general interest in language science. Why are so many middle class children speaking in Jamaican patois? A father of an 11-year-old girl laments a baffling trend By Nick Harding Published: 00:19 GMT, 11 October 2013 | Updated: 11:11 GMT, 11 October 2013 With her ear glued to her mobile phone, my 11-year-old daughter, Millie, was deep in conversation, her brow furrowed as she discussed some arrangement with a friend.
Multicultural London English 'Oo' One of English’s most rapidly evolving dialects is what is known as Multicultural London English (MLE). In a nutshell, MLE is a ‘young’ dialect (one might mark the birthday cutoff at 1970) that incorporates elements of Caribbean English and other ‘non-native’ influences. Although it is associated with Britons of African descent, it is spoken by inner-city Londoners of many ethnicities. In some ways, MLE reverses the direction London English has been traveling for the past century. For an idea of what I’m talking about, watch this interview with hip hop artist Dizzee Rascal, a well-known speaker of MLE: There is something clearly ‘London’ about this young man’s speech, yet he hardly speaks ‘classic Cockney.’
Weekly Word Watch: muggle off, munchkin, and päntsdrunk We’ve got a hearty serving of words this week, generously topped with mayonnaise, mispronunciations, and M-words. Let’s dig in. The new series of ITV2’s smash reality hit Love Island is back on air. Some of us (hate-)watch for the programme’s sexy sensationalism.