Oxford appeal to young wordsmiths to help decode modern slang


With an aim is to record all distinctive words – old and new, formal and informal – that shape the language, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has launched the youth slang word appeal.

OED said it wants to hear about the unique words and expressions that children and young people use and if one doesn’t understand these, then it can come to their rescue.

Some of the words frequently used as slang these days are “bare”, “dank” and “hench”.

The words that many hear for the first time from younger people often have a bigger story to tell about varieties of English used by particular ethnic or cultural groups, and their influence on the language as a whole, it said.

“Slang terms are always challenging for dictionary editors to track but young people’s language today can be particularly elusive – because the terms that are in vogue change so rapidly and newer ephemeral modes of communication (texting, WhatsApp, Snapchat, etc.) make it difficult to monitor and record this kind of vocabulary.

“That’s why we are asking for your help in identifying the language used by children and teenagers today,” it said.

According to Danica Salazar, World English Editor at Oxford University Press, “Multilingual, multicultural, and technologically savvy, young people in India are changing the lexicon in ways that lexicographers find particularly innovative, but also elusive.

“By taking words from the many languages they speak, then taking them apart and putting them back together again, children and teenagers create what seems like a secret vocabulary full of imaginative new words and meanings that are distinctly Indian. The OED is reaching out to these young wordsmiths to help us record the slang words that they have invented.”

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