All entries for Wednesday 25 September 2019

September 25, 2019

Words communities should learn to be ready for university students

Just before the start of the 2019/2020 academic year, I was asked to provide a list of "words university students should learn to be ready for their new community." The request was, of course, just a gimmick to drive traffic to a commercial site. "Local words" exist much more in people's conceptualisations of local dialects than in reality. Linguistically, the interesting differences between dialects don't exist in words but in the domains of phonetics and phonology, morphology and syntax, and pragmatics and discourse. Lexical differences between dialects tend to be pretty shallow, and in most communities local lexicons are given way to regional and national lexicons.

But perhaps most importantly, "traditional speakers of a local dialect" (i.e., the older people whose speech is representative of a local variety) aren't really doing anything innovative with words. By definition (if they exist), they're just using old words. The innovation is happening in the speech of young people. So, if anybody should be learning new words, it's the local community, which is going to have to try to keep up with the language of the young innovative speakers descending into their clubs, pubs, and Ikeas.

Therefore, I surveyed new linguistics students at Warwick to determine their best slang. This is their dictionary.

Word: peng (adj.)
Definition: attractive
Example sentence: They’re really peng. I want to chat them up.

Word: bare (1, adj.)
Definition: a lot
Example sentence: He’s got bare money.

Word: bare (2, adv.)
Definition: very
Example sentence: This song is bare good.

Word: lit (adj.)
Definition: good
Example sentence: That was a lit Wasps fixture.

Word: gucci (adj.)
Definition: good
Example sentence: It’s all gucci in our flat.

Word: bevved (adj.)
Definition: very drunk
Example sentence: He is proper bevved from the club.

Word: rec (n.)
Definition: park
Example sentence: We’re going to the rec for a kick-about.

Word: paigon (n.)
Definition: a person who does nothing; a person who should not be given attention; a person who cannot be trusted
Example sentence: "I do want to use this to say that Theresa May is a paigon and you know what we're doing right now." - Stormzy in speech at GQ Awards

Word: snake (n.)
Definition: a person who betrays people
Example sentence: That snake was bad-mouthing my friends.

Word: clapped (1, adj.)
Definition: ugly
Example sentence: That bloke over there is clapped.

Word: clapped (2, adj.)
Definition: stupid
Example sentence 2: That was a clapped thing to say.

Word: –ed can be added to almost any noun to mean 'drunk'
Example sentence: I got absolutely wallpapered last night.

Word: yeet (1, interjection)
Definition: general exclamation of approval
Example sentence: I love Warwick! Yeet!

Word: yeet (2, verb); pt. yote
Definition: throw
Example sentence: I yote the ball to Mary. She will yeet it back.


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