If you understand all that, then you may be able to help the Oxford English Dictionary with their latest appeal. 

They want to hear about the unique words and expressions that children and young people use. 

In South Africa, these words and expressions often come from Tsotsitaal (also known as Flaaitaal) or more recently from i’Scamtho, a new youth language spoken in the kasi (townships), which is a mix of several of the country’s official languages – most notably (in alphabetical order) Afrikaans, English, isiXhosa, isiZulu, and Sesotho. 

Kids playing at the Plastic View informal settlement. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Examples include blesser for sugar daddy, G-string for BMW (due to the design of the front grill), and zozo for a shack.

The words that many of us 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. 

The OED’s aim is to record all distinctive words that shape the language, old and new, formal and informal. 

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 they’re asking for your help in identifying the language used by children and teenagers today.

Even if the examples above leave you bewildered, you can still help them. Do your children, grandchildren, students, or teenage neighbours use words that are completely unfamiliar to you—or familiar words in very unfamiliar ways? 

Since when did blind mean exciting or cool? Who decided that if someone is a cheese boy he is a spoilt brat?  

Or perhaps you remember words or terms from your own childhood that are not yet recorded in the dictionary—the names of playground games, for example? 

They’d love to hear about those, too. Join the conversation on Twitter at #youthslangappeal or send your words to their website.

– Adapted from Oxford University press release
Categories: Education News