Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Shelf Life of Slang

Pardon me, folks, for bringing up a delicate matter of sorts: slang. Obviously, new slang expressions get added to the common lexicon. Some continue to have currency, while others drop off soonish. Will selfie be cut from the slang roster soon; or will our great-grandchildren continue to take selfies? Likewise, gnarly and cool seem to have legs; but lounge lizard, and ring-a-ding either mark the user as hopelessly outdated or suggest the user is superannuated. Slanguage usage is further complicated by the fact that some old slang is revived, like a cardiac arrest patient responding to CPR. (We could call that retro slang.)  However, the main problem is that some passé terms just don't go away easily, much like a case of bronchitis in February!

Anyway, here's some examples of popular slang expressions dating from various decades of the last century: 1920's 1930's 1940's 1950's 1960's 1970's 1980's 1990's 
Here's an extended list of 1970's slangWikipedia gives a nice set of examples from the 2000's. Looking over these lists, it seems that those from the more distant times are less likely to be heard, much less used. Obviously, the slang of any decade is likely to be more plentiful than these. Obviously, some terms last longer than others, but that's why I'm writing on this topic.

However, some people continue to use slang from the era that they grew up in, plus that of their parents. This can result in their being embarrassed and possibly shamed by their outré language! Besides, a people is known by the quality of the language they use. This is why the French Academy is so fussy about French slang. [Mais non! Pas le drugstore!] Maybe this calls for the President to develop a cabinet-level position to screen, advise, and lower the boom on outdated slang. Otherwise, we might still have clueless people continuing to use expressions as "dollymop," "gag me with a spoon," "bitchin," and "chick." The head of this post can be easily referred to in the media as the "Slang Czar."

But who should be this Slang Czar? A President of a name-brand university, someone who aspires to be an ambassador, Joe Biden? Or maybe the guy that compiles the Banned Words List from Lake Superior State University. Any way, this wowser would make you peeps get with the program, or the Slang Czar will raise more do-do than King Kong with the runs!


Linda Kay said...

Oh, my...after having spent some time with my granddaughters this past week, I heard slang words that were unfamiliar to me, and much is Internet related, I do believe. And the abbreviations on Facebook is yet another world. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

Mike said...

I scored about a 70 to 80 on most decades. Even the 20's and 30's had familiar terms. But then 'Cool Beans' from the 70's was totally unknown to me.

bakku-shan said...

Cool beans marks an era as lame.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Yeah, the 1990's were heavily influenced by Valley girls.

TexWisGirl said...


Cloudia said...

I have a book of gangster and underworld slang from the 1930's!


( '>

ALOHA from Honolulu,

Cloudia said...

"Muggles" was American 'Negro' slang for Marijuana WAAAY before Harry Potter :-)

allenwoodhaven said...

Great post; very interesting and enjoyable!

Chuck Bear said...

Thanks for the samples of slang from different eras.

Cherdo said...

Then you have people like me, who say lame things just because they are lame. What category do I fit into? Do I have a category? If so - cool beans.

The Bastard King of England said...

I think that saying lame things are fun!