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How Slang Influences Society And Culture

There are so many views about slang good and bad. People love it and hate it for the same reason. However I am going to show you the role slang plays in society in this article and give an over-view of why some people love it and why some people hate it.

Slang is said to be “informal language”, maybe because it’s consistently changing form and may be limited to a certain location or time. Slang is usually associated with people of lower socio-economic status and oppressed minorities although the wealthy (who are the non-oppressed minorities) do have their own forms of slang. For the reasons I have mentioned, slang seems to be a tool of social exclusion, social approval and association since it usually belongs to a certain group and affiliated members. It serves as a unique code a certain group of people may identify each other through. They may be able to communicate messages only members of that group can fully understand. Some people love it because of this; some people hate it for being exclusive.

Now in this growing information society, the new slang is hash-tagging on social networks. A certain group will have their acronyms, abbreviations and words following a hash symbol in their conversations such that clicking that hash tag will reveal more conversations and interactions within that topic. I would like to call this a form of e-slang. You may have seen these expressions: #YOLO, #SMH, #TRUE, #FOMO and many others that are still being created.  Slang seems to create synergy between groups though people outside its use may not like it and think of it as stupid or as something used by less “educated” people.

I believe slang is creative when used with a purpose and does not confine people to one form of expression. It is important that a person no matter how much conventional education he or she boasts of should be conscious of the type of slang in his immediate society (Facebook and Twitter too are now ones immediate society) in order not to be left out on knowledge of certain things. Knowledge of certain things may empower or protect.

Slang has empowered the groups that mostly use it with voice, the ability to communicate and feel free to be creative. The other side to this is that powerful people that have seen the strength of these dynamics in language have realized that people trust a voice they can identify with, so they have sponsored artists that are already in certain groups to mislead and still look as if they were one with the people of that group because of the slang they used. A good example is hip-hop as a revolutionary art. As soon as pop culture embraced Hip-hop; it embedded certain messages with use of hip-hop slang to destroy the very purpose the art exists in the first place. It was just a matter of them dressing and talking like the voice that should stand for hip-hop. This may have also happened in many art forms and cultures.

Another point I want you to realize is how slang (well good slang) is metaphoric of the phenomenon it expresses. For example the word “murk or merc” in Hip-hop refers to killing, murdering or delivering a good verse. Murk is from merc, shorthand for mercenary (what does a mercenary do? He kills). Almost every word has an amazing etymology, once you understand this you will realize that when I say slang gives voice to the people, I am not trying to sound like some modern philosopher. This is why it connects people of same experiences together because it is a metaphor of what they have gone through. Even if outsiders mimic the expression it doesn’t sound right; it shows that they are trying to fit in, as they have not gone through the experiences that bring about that expression.

In conclusion I can say, no matter what is said about slang and people “losing identity” by using it, I say slang is giving people their inner identity and expressing what the world has presented to them since birth. The more people who do not like it exclude themselves by not wanting anything to do with it, the more those who use it enjoy exclusivity.

This post was written by Mcpotar of


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