Saturday, April 18, 2009

Learnin' Some Slang

Last night I was out with some friends and we were discussing some slang that exists only in Cuenca. A former student of mine told me he could compile a list of probably 15 words that are only used in Cuenca, and if you were to say them to someone from Guayaquil or Quito they would have no idea what it meant. I was thinking about that and wondering how much slang of our own in English is esoteric.

Probably due to TV and movies, I'm familiar with slang and terms that are used in places like California, even though I've never been there. I don't necessarily use those words, but I understand them when I hear them. But I also think about how with my own group of friends, half the time it seems as though we're speaking in Boston-specific slang. I could easily just create a slang word and used in the right context, my friends would understand it. Even if they didn't, I could quickly tell them what I meant and from then on it would be understood, and if we wanted to, we could continue to use it in the hopes that it caught on.

This is how English is constantly changing. Every year there are more buzz words and phrases that come and go at the whim of whoever is there inventing it. It probably starts with someone who is bored of saying the same old words and says something that makes no sense, yet it evolves into the standard.

But I still found it odd how only Cuencanos will understand their own slang. I know there are natural barriers here in Ecuador--the mountains, rivers, etc. But it's modern times, and there's no reason why people from 3 hours away would never have heard a word before. Unless I'm underestimating how many slang words there are that I'm just not familiar with, I feel like we would generally know the difference from Boston to New York, and vice versa. And I can't believe I'm actually thinking about this in depth. I'm kind of turning into a nerd.

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