Nathanael Green's Blog

An advertising copywriter, novelist, and freelance writer's brain goo.

From Having Game to Being Lame

with 4 comments

Here’s an interesting article from The New York Times about slang.

We all know that when our moms started saying “rad,” it was time to find the next cool word. And we got a few good years out of rad before that happened. But now, the internet is spreading slang to more people faster than ever, which is making the cool words’ life cycles much shorter.

Basically, once slang is identified by outsiders as the cool new words, they’re not cool anymore. So as a warning, please remember that if you learn a new slang word from a dictionary, be careful using it. Chances are good that if it’s defined as a cool new word, it really isn’t.

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Written by Nathanael Green

August 23, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. Dear Sir

    I wondered if you might like a link to both my Foreign word site and my English word website or press release details of my ensuing book with Penguin Press on amusing and interesting English vocabulary?

    http://www.thewonderofwhiffling.com

    with best wishes

    Adam Jacot de Boinod

    (author of The Meaning of Tingo)

    (www.themeaningoftingo.com)

    adamjacot@fastmail.co.uk

    or wish to include:

    1) THE MEANING OF TINGO
    When photographers attempt to bring out our smiling faces by asking us
    to “Say Cheese”, many countries appear to follow suit with English
    equivalents. In Spanish however they say patata (potato), in Argentinian Spanish whisky, in French steak frites, in Serbia ptica (bird) and in
    Danish appelsin (orange). Do you know of any other varieties from around the world’s languages? See more on http://www.themeaningoftingo.com

    2) THE WONDER OF WHIFFLING

    The Wonder of Whiffling is a tour of English around the globe (with fine
    coinages from our English-speaking cousins across the pond, Down Under
    and elsewhere).
    Discover all sorts of words you’ve always wished existed but never knew,
    such as fornale, to spend one’s money before it has been earned; cagg, a solemn vow or resolution not to get drunk for a certain time; and
    petrichor, the pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a
    dry spell.
    Delving passionately into the English language, I also discover why it
    is you wouldn’t want to have dinner with a vice admiral of the narrow
    seas, why Jacobites toasted the little gentleman in black velvet, and
    why a Nottingham Goodnight is better than one from anywhere else. See
    more on http://www.thewonderofwhiffling.com

    with best wishes

    Adam

    Adam Jacot de Boinod

    August 23, 2009 at 5:24 pm

  2. Outsider incorporation is a big pitfall for slang. The only way you could hope to keep slang pure is, well, not to use it.

    If you want to be cool, talk like the characters out of Jane Austen or, for a higher bar, Shakespeare. Sure, people will try to copy you, but people will mostly fail.

    Seana

    August 24, 2009 at 12:26 am

    • But Seana, if we start talking like Shakespeare, won’t we be the outsiders? Won’t all those thespians and time travelers from the sixteenth century lose their street cred?

      Nathanael Green

      August 24, 2009 at 9:04 pm

      • No, Nate, we will be the avant-garde. I don’t have any sympathy for time travelers if they don’t want to join our cause.

        Seana

        August 24, 2009 at 11:14 pm


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