Saturday, September 22, 2012

Slang: How to Sound Instantly Cooler

If you love words, then you love slang. More than just a bunch of fun and happening expressions, slang offers an auditory snapshot of each generation. Just like bellbottoms and knee-high boots, words and phrases go in and out of style and tell us a lot about the mood of the time.

Read The Outsiders, The Great Gatsby, or any other great once-contemporary novel, and you'll get a wonderful earful of slang.

Ever wonder what the cool kids were saying 50 years ago? Check out "26 Beatnik Slang Words and Phrases We Should All Start Using," on Mental Floss. Though many expressions from that generation have disappeared, the post points out that some slang expressions have stuck around to take a more permanent position in our language:
Plenty of phrases from the first self-described hipster generation have lasted into modern conversation: people still get bent out of shape, annoying people bug us and muscular guys are still built.
And let's not forget the word 'cool,' which started being, er, cool back then. Mental Floss highlights 26 lesser-known gems from the Beat generation. Here are some of my personal favorites:
  • Claws sharp: Being well-informed on a number of subjects. “Reading Mental Floss keeps your claws sharp.”
  • Everything plus: Better than good-looking. “He wasn’t just built, he was everything plus.”
  • Focus your audio: Listen carefully. “Shut your trap and focus your audio. This is important."
  • Noodle it out: Think it through. “You don’t have to make a decision right now. Noodle it out and call me back.”
  • Off the cob: Corny. “Okay, some of this old Beat slang is kinda off the cob.”
  • X-ray eyes: To understand something, to see through confusion. “That guy is so smart. He’s got x-ray eyes.”
And if you think these sayings sound stupid or corny, that's exactly what your kids will say one day about 'epic', 'beast', and 'awesome'.