The Kovar Korner: New Slang

Sedrek Kovar

“In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean
blue” is a common phrase known by
most third graders throughout the
country. Although the discovery of
what are now the Caribbean islands
is considered by many elementary
school teachers to be the foundation
of modern-day America, extensive
settlement of those lands did not begin
for more than a century.
Inspired by the riches gained by
the Spanish and their conquest of Incan
settlements, the Virginia Company
charted an English voyage in hopes
of finding gold in the new prospective
lands. Various other European powers
took note and they too attempted
colonization. Soon enough, Great
Britain, Spain and France held their
respective settlements in the New
World.
Over the course of time, Great
Britain slowly gained more control
over North America until the American
Revolution of 1776, where the
English colonies declared themselves
a free and independent country.
By that time, the English language
was the primary dialect of the region,
with various influences from the
French and Spanish in what are now
the southern and mid-western parts
of the United States. These influences
were the ingredients for what is now
the culturally rich English language.
Many consider the development
of slang to be an insult to the current
form of said language. However,
America was founded upon diversity.
It is the culmination of cultures from
all around the world coming together
to form a single, unified state. Slang is
and has always been a compliment to
that diversity, a celebration of societal
differences.
To understand the effect of these
regional and linguistic influences one
must simply turn on the radio. Hiphop
and rock were the result of the
poetry and jazz movements in 1920s
New York, and country is a diffusion
of French and Spanish music in the
south. Changes in language go hand
in hand with cultural phenomena.
A fairly modern example of this is
the use of acronyms and emoticons
in instant messaging. Prior to the introduction
of the World Wide Web,
it is improbable that anyone sent a
letter saying just “Lol idk.” With the
internet came new forms of communication,
and those changes resulted
in a whole new set of vocabulary that
would have seemed ridiculous 10
years prior.
Some argue that the addition of
these new “unintelligent” phrases
dumb down the English language,
making conversation less interesting.
However, it is time to face the facts.
America and the rest of the civilized
world are experiencing a technological
revolution, where any and all information
is just a click away. To say
that this will not result in a change in
the English language is simply ignorant
or, better yet, wrong.
Some popular phrases circulating
around Hanover include (but are
not limited to) words like ‘ratchet’,
‘thirsty’ and ‘bae’. For those who
have never heard these words before,
‘ratchet’ refers to something
makeshift, often used to describe a
person who is not looking their best.
Examples include: “Man, I’m looking
ratchet this morning.” or “My house is
falling apart, it’s so ratchet.” This new
slang may seem unintelligible to those
unexposed to the culture; it is important
to keep and open mind.
‘Thirsty’ is slightly more self-explanatory,
as it refers to a person who
wants attention, usually from someone
of the opposite sex. ‘Bae’ may
seem like a shortened version of the
word ‘baby’, but it supposedly means
‘before all else’. For the sake of simplicity,
‘bae’ can be used in the same
fashion as one would use the term
‘baby’.
Some of the older readers out there
might be calling this all hogwash.
However, as stated before, the English
language is an ever-changing mechanism,
a melting pot of the various cultures
that define this country. While
the history lesson at the beginning of
the article may have seemed slightly
unnecessary, it is vital in the analysis
of the English language.

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