Monday, October 05, 2009

Resource Review - Word Spy and The Slang Dictionary

(This is part of a year long series of resource reviews I've been doing. 52 resources in 52 weeks. You can see all the reviews in one place here)

OVERALL - Word Spy and The Slang Dictionary - A two-fer this week because they're so closely alike. If you've ever felt like there's a whole different language out there that you don't speak (or if your youth are talking about something and you're not sure what it is!) these two web sites can help you out. Stay on top of current language and slang as much as you can since it's a moving target.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Every generation has its own slang, catch words and codes. Working with young people it can be important for us to have at least a passing understanding just so we can know if something isn't right. Fred Lynch, the editor of the Slang Dictionary, puts it really well:
This dictionary isn't so you can try to talk like someone you're not. But it is a good reference for those who are seeking to understand a piece of youth culture today. No ... every kid doesn't use all of these words. But this is a comprehensive list of many of the words you'll hear, in part.

Word Spy tracks new words being used on the Internet and kicks out a list of the top usages for each week. You can see what's actually being discussed.

Both sites provide definitions and how they might be used.

RESERVATIONS Almost assuredly someone is going to see this as a way to "talk like the kids". Please, Please, PLEASE resist this urge. To drop the occasional piece of slang in at appropriate moments can be really powerful. To try and re-form your vocabulary to use lots of these words is just going to make the kids snicker and then start thinking "Creeper!". As with any site of this type they will always be slightly behind the curve. That's inevitable.

RECOMMENDATIONGiven my love of words I suppose it's not surprising that I really like these sites. The reality is that I think they not only give us an insight into what's going on inside our young people's heads but also what's going on in culture too. The week I wrote this the top phrase on Word Spy was "time porn" -Television shows and other media that portray characters as having excessive amounts of spare time. That's a great concept and real struggle that a lot of us may be having without even realizing. You'll definitely want to bookmark these two.

No comments: