It’s difficult to separate discussions about slang from representation of young people. Predominantly, slang is associated with young people and how their creative sue of language helps form part of their social group’s identity. And, as slang terms become accepted into the mainstream dialect of a wider community, new slang terms naturally emerge, once again to confuse anyone older than 25!
To understand different attitudes to slang is not too dissimilar to the attitudes towards text speak we have discussed earlier. Prescriptivists might prefer ‘standard english’, and be irritated by slang use, descriptivists would see slang as an inevitable and interesting aspect of the evolution of our language.
So, before reading on, refresh your memory on some of the typical attitudes towards other uses of language by young people.
Here’s a review of a book by Julie Coleman called ‘The Life of Slang.’ The review suggests a descriptivist stand point, describing how slang has been around for hundreds of years, hinting at its natural position in the continued evolution.
As I said earlier, attitudes towards slang are sometimes hard to separate from attitudes to young people. Do they use slang because they’re lazy? They’re stupid? Both? Or is it something less sinister. These two articles are useful for exploring attitudes to teenagers:
Here’s a past paper question you may wish to attempt. It would be a good opportunity to respond creatively to different ideas about slang and the language use of young people.