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Slang, The Informal Language 

Updated April 22, 2022
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Slang, The Informal Language  essay

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In today’s society, more and more people of the United States are putting to question whether or not slang is or could be considered a language. Due to the influx in both social media and technology, slang is beginning to be more commonly used than it used to in the past, when technology did not exist. Slang is one of the most interesting parts of any language, and in America it can also be thought of as a very informal way to speak. Every generation has its own type of slang. Slang tends to originate in the subcultures of a society, whether that being teenagers, groups of people, armed forces or even minorities. Since slang has been so commonly used in the society that we live in today, the people of the society notice the slang that is being used everyday and they adopt the expressions of slang, and use them as their own. The recent rise in technology has caused many adolescents to adapt to a more informal language like slang, which is now so commonly used in everyday life but it is still not thought of as its own language, in most cases. There are many mixed opinions about informal language. Some adults believe that slang can ruin their children’s way of thought, while other adults believe that this form of jargon is now becoming a way of life because slang can be viewed as something that is mainly used among young adolescents nowadays and also something that many teenagers and children have grown up with (Dumas). Also, many people are beginning to ask whether or not slang should be a language and how has the rise in technology has caused slang to boom? Some people are arguing that they do not like the changes in which slang has brought because they believe that the idea of this informal language is taking a toll on their children and their learning performance to a point where they are no longer being able to find how meaningful some words from the English language are. On the other hand, others are asserting that slang is so commonly used in our everyday lives that the dictionary has accepted some slang words and people should accept this jargon as a language as well (Kolowich).

The typical adult believes that the common use of slang today is beginning to make teenagers and children in general lazier. Author Bethany K. Dumas, a professor at the University of Tennessee, has written many journals on the topic of language and linguists. In her journal “is slang a word for linguists” Dumas addresses the fact that many of the people who are involved with slang and use it on a daily basis show “Laziness in thought and poverty of vocabulary” (Dumas). Language is beginning to be less meaningful and used in the wrong situations such as an interview or the workplace (Dumas). In relation to Dumas, Jamila Lyiscott, national renowned speaker and scholar, in her slam poem “3 Ways to Speak English” Lyiscott believes that in different settings everyone talks differently because “english is a multifaceted oration” and many people would not speak to their boss the way they speak to their friends (Lyiscott). Teenagers who are using this form of informal language at school are showing their teachers that they do not care about the english language enough to use the proper words, which is the reason they change many words to make them their own. People are no longer using what many people would call the proper language, or the perfect language, because young people seem to have made it their own. In addition, young people are no longer getting outside to interact with friends or family members as much as they did in the recent past because with technology nowadays, young adolescents do not need to try as hard to connect with family and friends because they can just text emojis or phrases from the palm of their hand or even call, however not many people actually call anymore (Dumas). To shed light on Dumas, Lauren Klein, an Associate Professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech conducted a survey at the University of Florida, which revealed that many students are spending an average of 200 minutes a day on the internet and an average of 90 minutes on social media platforms (Klein). Those who are spending their time on the internet alone are not gaining any the advantages in which the people who are spending their time on social media are receiving (Klein). This is demonstrating the fact that in today’s society lots of younger people are spending much of their day on their phone or computer. However, instead of connecting over the phone, if they were to all get outside and interact while playing a sport or a game they will be able to build more connections and help themselves not be as lazy.

Slang can often be looked at as a bad thing or as something affiliated with gangs and therefore should not be considered a language. Language guru David Crystal, in his very popular work in ‘The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language’ implies that with adults, slang is often viewed as a form of language that is normally used with gangs or people who are affiliated with gangs (Crystal). In relation, Amy Tan, an American writer who often writes on her mother and daughter experiences, also states that many people were raised in different areas by different parents who may speak another language or speak a language differently (Tan). In this situation Crystal is saying that slang is a form of dialect that is added on to the english language but not necessarily its own language. Needless to say, if a form of slang is used in the wrong neighborhood or in the wrong situation it can end up backfiring because some people will take it the wrong way. Not every age group understands slang, because it is more commonly used among today’s younger generation because of social media and technology (Crystal). This sheds light on the fact that gangs were known for using a form of their own language similar to slang used today. Likewise, gangs are also associated with gang signs which are similar to peace signs today. Crystal believes that slang should not be viewed as its own language because slang can be something bad if used in the wrong situation and slang may even bring up more gangs (Crystal). In addition, this piece also argues that many people of older age do not typically understand the informal language that many kids are using today and feel as though they are becoming disconnected with their children, which is similar to the same beliefs of Klein due to the fact that they both feel as though slang is a cause of disconnectivity between children and family.

Slang can be affecting the learning performance of students in a school environment. According to Ryan Lytle, a staff writer who writes for Discovery’s Lifestyle Digital Studios portfolio, in his article “How slang affects students in the classroom”, Lytle argues that slang is often used among young people due to the fact that social media is so big now that it is affecting the learning performance of the students at school. This new form or language is taking over the original english language and the funny thing is that some of the younger teachers are noticing the slang used in assignments and are just letting it go because it is also familiar to them, while the older teachers are disappointed to what is happening to the english language (Lytle). To clarify, some of the younger teachers who grew up close to this generation notice the use of slang in class work and homework but surpass it because they themselves also use it while the older teachers are noticing what is occurring and are disappointed at the fact that the English Language is being changed. According to a recent survey done by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, out of 700 highschool students, 85 percent of the students admitted to taking part in a form of communicating on and electronic device, either through text messaging or even communicating through social media (Lytle). Due to the fact that these students have grown up in the era of technology, they can be unaware that they are using informal language while in a classroom setting. In this case, 64 percent of parents at the highschool are also upset with the fact that the media is affecting the learning performance of their children while at school, however if they are concerned they have the ability to take actions into their own hands and take away their child’s device (Lytle). John McWhorter, a linguist who is also an “associate professor of english and comparative literature at Columbia University”, where he teaches his students linguistics, furthers Lytle’s argument in his Ted Talk “Txtng is Killing Language. JK!!!” as he also brings up the topic of slang being just a form of speech in which people use in an informal setting like at school or group of friends. Both Lytle and McWhorter both argue on the same topic and both help strengthen one another’s argument that students are letting informal language get in the way of their learning ability and incorporating slang more often in both homework and classwork.

All this aside, there are in fact some people who agree counters the idea that language should not be considered a language because they believe that slang should in fact be considered its own language for many reasons. For instance, Mark Peters, a well known author on the topic of language, inn his article “Slang-Language at Our Most Human”, Peters asserts that since slang has been around almost as long as the english language itself but it has recently boomed with the spring of social media and technology and believes that since slang has been around almost as long as English then it should therefore be considered its own language (Peters). However although it has been here for a long time, it has only recently boomed with the rise of social media and technology and that doesn’t mean that it is its own language, if social media were to be used less often as it is today, then people would begin to socialize outside and in person rather than just texting and paraphrasing words to make them shorter. Correspondingly, Lindsay Kolowich, a young adult writer for Hubspot who seems to understands the era of media and the rise of slang over the past 5 years, in her article “How the internet slang is changing the way we speak” broadens the idea that slang should be considered a language by emphasizing that some slang words are being put into the dictionary because they have been used for such a long time that they are something that people have gotten accustomed to. However, many of these slang words are slowly making their way into our language more and more, and by giving them their own spot in the dictionary furthers the idea that they should be part of their own language, when really, without English there would be no such thing as an informal language.

To conclude, in today’s day and age, the influx in technology and new social media platforms has brought more attention to the concept of slang and whether or not it can be seen as a language or not. Due to this rise in technology many adolescents have been found using slang more often that before but just because it is used often does not mean that it is a language. In fact there are many instances in which people agree that language should not be considered a language, whether it be because it makes people lazier, or because it is thought of to be associated with gangs, or even the fact that it could be affecting the performance in the classroom, however there are some people that believe otherwise that slang has been in our lives for such a long time and that the world is so accustomed to it that why hasn’t it been signified as its own language yet.

Slang, The Informal Language  essay

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