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Understanding the language of slang

india Updated: Jul 19, 2009 14:01 IST
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When do you know whether you are “in”? How is one supposed to react when somebody responds to a query with “Bleh!”? And you are wrong in mistaking a ‘bro´ for brother.

Take it easy, there is hope for the uninitiated, parent or elder who is flummoxed with the new language floating among youngsters in classrooms and campuses.

Various dictionaries out now in the market offer help to deconstruct the world of slang that is constantly changing and evolving.

Vinod Varma who teaches English Literature at Delhi University says, “Emergence of community based vocabulary and slang is interesting and radical because it is challenging all existing rules.”

So while ‘Bleh´ means conveying total indifference or ambivalence in a situation, ‘bro´ means a cool person with whom everybody wants to hang out with. ‘Bro´ could also mean obnoxious partying males who are often seen at college parties, according to the online urbandictionary.com.

The website, which is in its 10th year, claims to be a personalised dictionary which asks users to define their words and meanings through individual contributions. Currently it has a total of 4,115,352 definitions of such words.

“Language is dynamic and fluid territory and several social classes and strata participate in the exchange and circulation of words and meanings,” points out Varma.

Language experts feel that language is losing the ground of universality and permanence and the character of language is getting more individualised day by day.

The word ‘in´ for example means relating to persons, places, and things that are declared fashionable and acceptable at the time.

The onlineslangdictionary.com is another platform to search for words. ‘Yup´ which is commonly used on SMSes and online messaging services is defined as an affirmative response taken from ‘yes´ while ‘bleh´ means to convey one’s ambivalence or total indifference to the situation.

“The slang, however comfortable they may be, are manifesting themselves into the conventional language. No wonder, one can foresee these slangs as part of literature that will be produced in the coming years,” says Vindhya Malik, a student of Mass Communication.

Slang maybe gaining popular ground but their authenticity is not valid at times. The term ‘Gen-Z´ which follows the X and Y generation has different meanings on different websites.