Published on October 30, 2013 | by Holly Gilbert


Basically, slang got banned at Croydon school, innit


Is the Urban Dictionary diminishing the rich and diverse English language? At a Croydon academy a number of slang words including ‘like’ and ‘innit’ have been banned from being used by students like a naughty swear word.

Does banning the use of certain words mean that you will instantly become an accomplished speaker never to begin a sentence with “like” or ‘basically’ again?

The assault on the English language by students at Harris Academy in Upper Norwood led to the headteacher insisting that students speak using appropriate language.

He said that a politician would never speak in such a colloquial manner and asked them to reflect on their decision to use slang in an academic setting.

Do modern urban colloquialisms really affect the standard to which we now speak?

We are all guilty of indulging our inner cool-kid when at school, trying to fit in and not be the nerd who loves the front of the classroom and sits alone at lunch time.

Slang enables people to fit in, to have a common ground. Slang allows a singular group of people to speak and communicate effectively in their own personalised dialect.

When Shakespeare was making up wholly original words like a linguistic loon was he considered ineloquent?

Shakespeare created more than 1,700 words that are still commonly used today in everyday conversation – I bet you didn’t know the word ‘swagger’ first appeared in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Why then is modern-day slang tarnished with the assumption that it is reserved for the ignorant and the uneducated?

ALN asked students from around UAL to share some of the slang words they are used to hearing in their hometowns; “Dog-Egg” – from Manchester – refers to something really disgusting; it’s actually quite evocative and imaginative when you think about it.

Others were a little more typical and aligned with the words that have been banned in the Croydon school.

Students from London certainly had a number of ‘bruvs’, ‘innits’ and ‘bluds’ to offer up to the slang soup, whereas those from the north of the country had more traditional offerings including the quite charming ‘Chuffin’ ‘ell!’

Harris Academy don’t ‘like’ slang. [Seren Jenkins]

The emergence of abbreviated slang to communicate has become more present in the last 2 years. After the explosion of LOL across the texting world, similar acronyms began popping up as a new genre of slang.

The intuitive nature of creating these abbreviations can be interesting and intellectual.

One of the most peculiar is a play on words using both Spanish and English: The Spanish saying ‘Eso Si que es’ translates to “it is what it is” by phonetically spelling out the Spanish you get the English word SOCKS.

The top 10 (albeit simpler) acronyms trending on are:

  1.  SMEXI ‘Smart and Sexy’
  2. GOMB ‘Get Off My Back’
  3. UG ‘Ugly’
  4. SIS ‘Sister’
  5. :3 ‘Cute goofy face’
  6. SMH ‘Shaking my head’
  7. YOLO ‘You only live once’
  8. TBH ‘To be honest’
  9. WYD ‘What you doing?’
  10. HMU ‘ Hit me up’

As a youth culture, we want information as fast and as succinct as it can possibly be. This new form of slang reflects in a similar way to traditional shorthand without the alternative symbols for each letter, actually making it extraordinarily straight forward.

There is, however, a time and a place. Perhaps texting your boss in abbreviations to tell them you are sick – and not in the good slang way – is definitely not appropriate.

It is a subject that certainly divides as it seems there is no middle ground. People either believe slang promotes individuality and creative speaking or that it is used by the ignorant, endorsing a demise of modern, educated culture.

There is beauty in diversity of language. More and more poetry jams are emerging all over the Western world with slang emerging as a prevalent creative medium of expression.

There is power in the freedom to express yourself, TBH.


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