An article last month in the New York Times discussed American slang and how quickly it has been changing. With the Internet, people are able to communicate instantaneously (immediately), sharing new expressions and words much faster than in the past. As a result, teenage and adult slang (very informal language, often used by a particular group) now changes almost daily (everyday). In fact, it changes so quickly that an expression which may be popular this week may not be popular next week.
One recent addition to American slang is to call someone “Obama” to mean that they are really, really cool (hip, popular). So to say, “Dude, you are so Obama!” means “Friend, you are very cool!” This usage may change depending on the president’s popularity, however – so be careful!
Here in Los Angeles, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has started a slang dictionary to try to keep track of (make a record of) the latest slang words and phrases. Linguistics professors published UCLA Slang 6 a few months ago; the dictionary costs $10.95. (To see a much older version from back in 1993, but one that still has many popular terms used today, look here.) Since Los Angeles is the capital of popular entertainment in the US, a lot of slang begins here in LA and moves to other parts of the country, although the Internet may change that pattern in the future.
Here are a few other new terms the kids (young people, including young adults) are using nowadays, according to the folks (informal for people) at UCLA:
- Schwa! – Wow! Amazing! (“schwa” is actually what we call an unstressed vowel in English)
- to destroy a test – to do very well on the test (opposite of what you might think!)
- Epic fail! – What a mistake!
- mija – my female friend (this comes from the Spanish “mi hija” (my daughter); Spanish is of course often heard here in Los Angeles)
- sisters from another mister and brothers from another mother – friends that are so close that they are like sisters or brothers
I have to say that, before reading this article, I had never heard of any of these expressions. Then again, these are slang terms popular among college students, not 40-something adults like me (40-something is someone in their 40s; also possible are twenty-something, thirty-something, etc.).