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Blabber or zapper? Slang explosion in UK gives 57 new words for TV remote

world Updated: Mar 03, 2014 16:39 IST
television remote

Slang is blossoming in the UK, linguists say after discovering hundreds of newly invented words including 57 for a television remote control such as blabber, zapper, melly and dawicki.

Researchers said slang was flourishing among all generations and social groups in Britain as they uncovered new forms of slang born of family banter.

While all languages evolve over time, experts said English language was changing more rapidly because of its global prevalence and exposure to foreign influences.

Tony Thorne of King's College London, author of the Dictionary of Contemporary Slang, said: "Once associated with enclosed communities such as the prison, the army barracks, the factory floor and the older public schools, more recently slang has escaped its boundaries and is running wild."

In the latest edition of the dictionary Thorne has included a new category of informal speech used by families that was originally identified by researchers at Winchester University and called 'kitchen-table lingo'.

While slang is often used by young people as a way of excluding adults, this form of subversive linguistic informality is born of collaboration between the generations, 'The Sunday Times' reported.

The words are often used to inject a note of silliness into the domestic routine with names such as 'blabber', 'zapper' 'melly' and 'dawicki', which are all used for the remote control.

Families have also invented words for everyday items or situations. These include 'grooglums', the bits of food left in the sink after washing up, 'slabby-gangaroot', the dried ketchup left around the mouth of the bottle, and 'trunklements', the personal possessions of a grandparent.

Other examples of slang include 'splosh', 'chupley' or 'blish' for a cup of tea, 'gruds' for underpants and 'frarping' for the act of scratching one's backside.

"A lot of these words are inspired by the sound or the look of a thing, or are driven by an emotional response to that being described," said Bill Lucas, professor of learning and a trustee of the English Project at Winchester University.

Some words and phrases used by teenagers, such as 'totes devz' and 'amazeballs', feature in the new dictionary as do 'nim-nim-nim', describing boring adult conversation, and 'meh', a verbal shrug of indifference.

Internet-savvy mothers have also emerged as slang artists with words such as 'boyf' for boyfriend, 'hubz' for husband and 'soz' for sorry now in common use.

Teenagers are also adopting old-fashioned words picked up from grandparents as 'gran slang'. Thorne said he found teenagers using words such as 'reek', 'trek', 'luka' (from lucre), 'galavanting' and 'rapscallion' as new slang.