Expanding English Language - Owlcation - Education
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Expanding English Language

I love history and all the events that built our great country. Some events have details known by the average person but still interesting.

Dictionary - New Words

english-language-expanding

History of English Language

I have been noticing many new, odd words over the past few years. These are words that teenagers and millennials seem to use. On TV I heard someone say “That’s real dope,” and I wondered why the word dope was being used to say something was very good. Of course, I have heard it several times since then, but it still seems strange to me as I thought dope was only a drug. I wondered who or how new words were started.

The truth is the English language has been evolving since before the Middle Ages. Often a new word is simply created and has “little or no etymological pedigree.” An example is the word dog. The word dog appeared in the Middle Ages, when for centuries a dog had been called a hound. Over the last century some of the new words are jazz, scam, gimmick and gadget. Some words are a blend of two words, such as brunch.

English Spoken Around the World

Actually, we have no idea whom to credit with new words. The Global Language Monitor states approximately 5,400 new words are created each year, but only about 1000 find widespread usage. They state the total number of English words as of January 1, 2019, are 1,052,010.5. I think my English vocabulary might be lacking with that number of words. A new word is created every 98 minutes.

As English has become a language of global communication around the world, I am always amazed by the number of people from other countries that speak this language quite well. As an example, in China 250 million people are learning English.

The Top Millennial Slang Words and What They Mean

Who is Creating These Words

Writers of literature and songs have often been the creators of new words. A master neologist is Shakespeare as 500 new words are found in his writing. In case you are unsure of the meaning of neologist, it means a proponent of a new doctrine. It is unknown if some of his words are ones he created or just heard somewhere. A few of his new words include: hint, swagger, lonely and critic.

John Milton created 630 new words that include fragrance, lovelorn and pandemonium.

Concert

english-language-expanding

How are New Words Created?

The most common way new words are created is by adding or changes a prefix or suffix. An example from 1822, is detonator.

Other ways words are created include:

  1. Back formation - a root word is created by removing the affix (sleaze from sleazy)
  2. Compounding - combining two know words together (daydream)
  3. Repurposing - changing the context of a know word (the bird crane is also a lifting machine)
  4. Conversion - changing the class of a word (the noun giant was used as an adjective in the 15th century)
  5. Eponyms - Words named after a place or person (atlas, cheddar, wellington)
  6. Abbreviations - Shortened words (pram for perambulator)
  7. Loanwords - Words borrowed from 350 other languages (Latin, French or Greek)
  8. Onomatopeia - A word created for the sound an item should make (plop, cuckoo)
  9. Reduplication - Repetition or near-repetition of a sound or word (lovey-dovey)
  10. Nounce words - Creating words that have no relationship to any “existing form” (few and far between)
  11. Error - Mispronunciations, misspellings, mishearings and mispronunciations (scramble originated from scrabble)
  12. Portmanteaus - An unusual compounding by removing a portion and replacing it with a whole or clipped version (paratroops, sexting or sitcom)

Teens Tell All About Slang

New Words Teens Use

Teenagers have several words and abbreviations they particularly use in texting. They like to express something good as “lit.” When they are surprised they may say they are “shook.” Something amazing might be described as “slaps” or “banger.” “Gucci” is used for something cool. Acting wild or ridiculously with no restraint is now termed as “savage”, which may be admired.

Greetings are really different. Teens may say “Ay yo” or “What’s up Fam/bruh.” Squad is plural for family of fam. Apparently bro, honey, dude, babe or sweety are words of the past. “Chill” no longer means calm or relaxed, but it now means something is cool.

Having a good time may be referred to as “dope/tight”, “lit” happening, “Get turnt” means getting drunk and “Mobbing hard” means either walking or riding with a big group of friends. As for texting abbreviations,” L8” - Late, “143” - I love you and “ASL” - Age/sex/location are just a sample.

Teenage Boy

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Happy by Pharrell Williams

In Conclusion

The long history of new words being added to the English language is fascinating. Being able to express yourself clearly, using some wisdom in your speech, is admirable, particularly if you are a writer. A good vocabulary is not too difficult if you look up new words when you see them, and try to use them when speaking or writing.

As for the millenial or teenage terms, social media has changed the life of a child or teen dramatically as compared to the past generations. This is certainly a component for the use of new short phrases and abbreviations.

If you have a teen it may be a good idea to become familiar with their words if you want to stay a step ahead. Parenting a teen is not always easy, and while they are having fun it isl wise to know about their way of communicating.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 09, 2019:

Noted, and thank you.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 09, 2019:

Miebakagh, I very much appreciate your comments. I appreciate you too.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 09, 2019:

Pamela, I appreciated you.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 09, 2019:

Hi, Pamela, not at all.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 09, 2019:

Hi Miebakagh, Thanks and you have a good day also.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 09, 2019:

Hi, I also appreciated the same comment. Thank you, and enjoy the day Love you all.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 09, 2019:

Hi Lora, You explained my thoughts on the evolving English language. I am glad you enjoyed the article, and I appreciate your comments.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 08, 2019:

Hi, it is serious for me to note this thought. Thank you.

Lora Hollings on April 08, 2019:

Pamela, this is a fascinating article on how the English language has evolved into such an expressive and precise language and continues to change and expand on an ever growing vocabulary. I have to say that I'm certainly not up to date with all the abbreviations and slang that teens and millennials use. It's almost a language within a language. I really enjoyed your article. Thank you.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 08, 2019:

Hi Dianna, I know teaching has its challenges. All the new slang must be hard to keep up with, but I would think the children would keep slang terms to a minimum in the classroom. LOL

Thank you so much for your comments.

Dianna Mendez on April 06, 2019:

This is such an enjoyable read and so educating. Even as a teacher, it is hard for me to keep up with the slang the kids come up with each year.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 02, 2019:

Hi Pamela, not at all, please.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 02, 2019:

Thank you for aadding to the discussion Miebakagh.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 02, 2019:

Hi, Pamela, yes, I agreed. English is the most common general means of communication online. You could not find another. So, readers not only took note of the story but chew and digest it. I think there is a need to taste it more according to Francis Bacon. Thank you.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 02, 2019:

Hi Miebaagh, Yes, it seems many people have comments, so I guess this was an interesting article to them Thanks you.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 01, 2019:

Hi, what a wonderful English story and still trending. This is awesome.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 01, 2019:

Hi Alyssa, I remember doing things like you described with my sons also because it was so much fun to see the reaction.

I did not read the dictionary growing up, but I would look up words if I didn't know their meaning. Haha! I appreciate your comments.

Alyssa from Ohio on March 31, 2019:

A new word every 98 minutes? Yikes! I've always been interested in languages and how they formed, as well as a lover of words. (I used to proudly proclaim that I read the dictionary. It was like a badge of honor for me growing up. I was a little nerdy. haha!) It's hard to keep up with the kids and their slang terms. Sometimes I incorporate them into my vocabulary just to annoy/embarrass my son. haha! Fascinating article!

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 25, 2019:

Hi, Pamela, not at all. Thanks.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 25, 2019:

hi Miebakagh, Thank you so much for your veyr kind comments.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 25, 2019:

Hi, Pamela, this is a very serious topic as it is still trending. I realized many visitors and readers are finding it useful now and then. Thanks for sharing this masterpiece.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 25, 2019:

Hi again Tim, You make an excellent point. I remember "dingbat", but I didn't know it ever meant outsider. You are right about "code switching" and it is good to know ahead of time some of the possible jargon you encounter.

Thanks so much for this input. Much appreciated.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on March 25, 2019:

Hi, Pamela, rereading your article - I wanted to share something interesting with you. My state is one of the most diverse areas in the country with regard to dialect because the Outer Banks remained isolated from the rest of the coast until about 1950. If you were to go there, you may be called a "ding bat." We may know what that means from watching shows like: "All In the Family," but it doesn't mean stupid on the Outer Banks. It means "outsider."

Knowing the right slang or jargon may help you get a job. What's important is knowing when to engage in "code switching." For instance, I learned "TIM" actually stands for "time is money," "Traffic incident management," and "thermal interactive material." People in trades and professions often have their jargon, and it helps to learn these things before job interviews.

Wonderful article again.

Tim

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 25, 2019:

Hi RTalloni, It sounds like you might know the latest and greatest new words. :)

I agree with you about the children learning proper English. Slang is chill as long as the teens are just hangling out.

Thanks for your comments.

RTalloni on March 25, 2019:

American English has always been a fascinating study. Now, with easier global communication, changes in our language not only spread quickly but rapidly come from around the world. In a sense, because of this it's easier for grown-ups to follow and check out how words are used. That's chill (a cool thing) for any squad (family) since understanding is key to helping them grow up. :)

Using language in fun ways is fine as long as we do not lose kids to it. If they are learning proper English well through studies, reading classics on their own, and interacting with adults in their homes/churches/neighborhoods/community centers/work places enjoying getting down (dancing around) with language is a neat hobby.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 24, 2019:

Good to note.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 24, 2019:

Hi Maria, I imagine your students do keep you updated. I'm glad you enjoyed the article and hopefully the music. Love and hugs to you Maria.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on March 23, 2019:

Hi Pam,

My university students keep me rather current in the ever-expanding changes to our English language.

This is a fun post. You've selected a perfect song in Pharrell Williams' HAPPY - listening now!

Love and hugs, Maria

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 23, 2019:

Hello, Pamela, you are welcomed. Thanks.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 23, 2019:

Hi Miebakagh, English can be confusing when someoe communicates using slang terms, especially in tests or job interviews. Thank yo for your comments.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 22, 2019:

@ Tim & Pamela, "get down" means dancing? That is why my English teacher told the class to avoid using slangs in tests and examinations. It is nor appropriated. No wonder failings in certificate English is alarming. Thank you.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 22, 2019:

Hi again Tim, I am glad to know a teacher is teaching children the right and wrong way to speak appropriately as necessary. I am concerned about the youth in our country as so many seem to spend their time behind video games, etc.

You keep educating me Tim. "Get down" mean let's dance. That is new to me and I listen to country sometimes. I like Simon and Garfunkel and others popular at that time. Thanks for your comments.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on March 22, 2019:

Pamela, I don't listen to rap anymore. But when I was young, rap was young, and they actually used words I could understand. Now, it's something else.

I love the oldies. (Listening to Simon and Garfunkel now.) At least, the language is understandable. As I tell my students: Try to learn the vocabulary appropriate for where you are because you don't want to use slang at the wrong time, like during a job interview. English is a very "situational" language, even more than some others because of its constant evolution.

Here's another example of cultural and language creep. Now, even in country tunes I hear the phrase, "get down." Well, didn't that mean duck - someone's about to shoot - from the westerns? Now, apparently it's accepted as "Let's dance." lol

Thanks for the wonderful article.

Tim

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 22, 2019:

Hi Tim, I don't listen to rap music and often listen to oldies, so no doubt I am not current as to the current language of young people.

I just thought was an interesting topic, and I appreciate your input. I had not thought about using words to not get in trouble for swearing, but I am sure that is true.

I am so glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks you for your kind comments.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on March 22, 2019:

Hi, Pamela, interestingly enough, the slang "dope" has been used since the 1980's. If you listen to early rap music, often they say: "That's dope!"

Many words start within a cultural setting, such as "bad" can mean "good," such as "You know, that La Bron James is really bad, man!" Cool, for example, grew out of use of cigarettes in the 1940's, when the Cool brand sponsored a lot of jazz concerts.

I've heard an odd one, recently, though Pamela. My kids were saying: "That's ratched!" I found out it means really messed up.

Many new words and meanings are created because young folk can't swear without getting into problems with adults. For instance, when I was young, we would say: "That's a "mug." (I will not explain what that meant.)

But this is an interesting article with useful details and information. I truly enjoyed it.

Sincerely,

Tim

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 19, 2019:

Hi Nell Rose, Te "Hello mert" is interesting. I believe in different areas of any country there are some phrases that are unique to tha specifict area. Thanks for stopping b and commenting.

Nell Rose from England on March 19, 2019:

I think its a combination of songs and other languages. Funnily enough in my town of Marlow England, the locals always say 'Hello mert' no idea where it came from, but then I was reading about an Iranian jewel and in it they said mert! I looked it up and its Iranian for People!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 18, 2019:

Hi Mel, I think you may be right about one way new languages are formed. It might be a great idea to use 2 languages in the way that you do as you are proficient in both. I appreciate your comments.

Mel Carriere from San Diego California on March 18, 2019:

I'm fascinating by language and how new languages actually are created by contact with other languages. In my household we use English and Spanish, and we interject words from one into the other frequently, simply because they express an idea that can't be as neatly packaged in the other. I am certain this is how new languages are formed, or one of the ways. Great article!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 18, 2019:

Hi Ms. Dora, I love your attitude about those that speak to you, and I agree. I am glad you liked this article. I always appreciate your comments. God bless you.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 17, 2019:

Pam, thanks for this very interesting and informative article. Yes, our language is fascinating and I especially like the section on how new words are formed. As for the language of today's teens, I'm making no effort to learn their vocab. They'll have to speak to me in my language.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 17, 2019:

Hi Peggy, Really, that was just the tip of the iceberg. Teens have so many new words and it is okay that I don't know them. My grandchildren are now in their early twenties!

Thanks so much for your comments.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 17, 2019:

This was interesting to read, and the videos you chose to insert were informative as well. Language is ever evolving. I have to admit not knowing many of these new meanings of words used by teenagers today. Thanks for the education.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 17, 2019:

Hi Clive, I love your new word! :) You have a great sense of humor. Glad you like the article.

Have a happy Sunday.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 17, 2019:

Ann, At least those are 2 words we actually know. And 'far out' is really cool! :) Thanks.

Clive Williams from Jamaica on March 17, 2019:

This article is shedishcapanlishly wonderful. Thats my new word pam. It means most extreme deliciously.

Ann Carr from SW England on March 17, 2019:

I've noticed lately that 'cool' and 'fab' have re-emerged - how cool is that?! I even heard someone say 'far out' the other day....!

Ann

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 17, 2019:

Hi Bill, It does sound like teens are talking in code. The word dope got me thinking about language. I am too old for a teen language as well. Thanks for your comments and hope you have a nice Sunday

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 17, 2019:

I heard two teens talking in a grocery store the other day. I couldn't follow along with what they were saying. It's like it was in code. lol But I loved your article, Pamela. I think I'm a bit too old to take on this new language. :) Having said that, I have used "dope" before.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 17, 2019:

Hi Flourish, I do think a lot of new words come from music that the younger people listen to very often. If I had written all the words I discovered in my search this article woud be a thousand words long!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Happy Sunday Flourish.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 17, 2019:

Hello Ann, I think teens may be switching languages in many countries if they are fairly well educated. I guess they can do both as they want to fit in with their peers.

I just got thinking about this topic and decided it was worth writing. Thanks so much for your comments.

Happy Sunday Ann.

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 17, 2019:

I have an older teen in the first year of college and definitely appreciate how different the adolescent vernacular is. It changes rapidly and seems to be influenced at least partially by music. I liked the list of the types of words because I could think of lots of examples.

Ann Carr from SW England on March 17, 2019:

As you say, language is evolving all the time. The problem comes when there is lazy, inaccurate language as opposed to innovative words and it's hard to differentiate!

Here in Britain it seems that teenagers are able to switch from 'text' to 'verbal' (i.e. conversation) easily, treating each as a separate language, just like English to French or any other. I think that's quite cool.

There have been several words in Britain (and maybe elsewhere, I don't know) which should mean horrible but have been used to denote good, such as 'wicked', 'sick' and 'mean'. That is quite weird!

This is an interesting and informative discussion regarding the growth and use of our language, Pamela. It makes us listen and think, so thank you for that.

Ann

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 16, 2019:

Hi, Pamela, you are welcomed. Thanks.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 16, 2019:

Hello Miebakagh, I fully agree with your comments/ I do not use slang words n my posts either. I appreciate your comments, and I agree with your view on writing. Thank you.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 16, 2019:

Hello, Pamela, the English language is one of the world's widest spoken language. No doubt, new words are being added daily. It is most welcome. But they uses are mostly as slangs, and not grammar. I am careful not to use those new words in my speeches and writing because the average person will not even know them. Thank you for sharing.

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