Tag Archives: slang

Food Worker Slang

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 22
Occupation: Grocery Store Worker
Residence: San Diego, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/23/2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

The following is a transcribed interview between interviewee and I. Interviewee is further referred to as MH.

MH: Better watch out, Miss. ‘Rona is coming for us!

Me: What does that mean? 

MH: It means that Coronavirus is coming for us all like an angry woman. That’s what we all call it at work so it isn’t so heavy. 

Me: So you call COVID-19 Miss ‘Rona?

MH: hahaha, yeah.  

Background:

Interviewee works for Trader Joe’s, a supermarket chain that has been providing food services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers have developed lots of folk slang during this time, some of which I picked up and was able to ask about. 

Context: 

This piece of folklore was collected from a quick phone call when interviewee had just gotten off of work. The setting was very casual, as we were just talking to catch up and share some folklore.

Thoughts:

Lots of slang has been cropping up about coronavirus, especially in communities that are on the front lines, like in food or medical services. It is interesting seeing that some of the people who are most exposed to coronavirus are trying to make a joke of it, even in just the name, so that they can lighten the tone of the overarching fear and hostility they may be facing in the workplace.

Social Media Slang

--Informant Info--
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Other Language(s):

Context: HO is an 18 year old college student who frequents instagram frequently and twitter infrequently. I, the interviewer am labeled as DJ.

HO: “Horny on main” means, like, you’re openly talking about something a lot on your public instagram.

DJ: Is it always on social media?

HO: I think it’s only on social media. I don’t know. I’ve never heard someone say that to me, like, outside of social media.

DJ: I’ve used it before not relating to social media.

HO: I never have. Who’s to say?

DJ: So, what does “on main” mean?

HO: It means on their main as opposed to their private Instagram story, or, like, “finsta.” Do I have to explain what “finsta” means?

DJ: Oh yes please. 

HO: It’s where you have a smaller Instagram. Your immediate circle of friends usually follows it, so you can post whatever you want?

DJ: Where does the word come from?

HO: Fake instagram.

Analysis:

Both terms defined in the interview refer to a person having multiple social media accounts: one for the public eye and the other designated as a more private platform in which people can be their more authentic selves. 

For further analysis regarding the social phenomenon “finsta” instagram accounts, see

Dewar, Sofia, et al. “Finsta: Creating” Fake” Spaces for Authentic Performance.” Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 2019.

Meta: Gamer Slang

--Informant Info--
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Main Piece: A meta is something that is mainstream. When playing competitive multiplayer games, there are always certain parts of the game, like characters, weapons, strategies that are better than the rest. When it comes to a high level of play where people are closer in terms of skill, every advantage you can take counts. Because of that, a bunch of people have coined that term, for things in a game that is trending or popular. These are most of the time made by professional gamers and streamers who are popular within the gaming community. Now whenever something is popular or trending, my friends and I call it meta like saying “Oh this is the new meta” when we do something crazy or out of the box. That could also be off-meta. It’s something we use whenever there’s a recommendation.

Context: The informant identifies as a gamer and has been playing various video games since they were in grade school. He first found out about what a meta is through popular gamers on youtube and twitch.

Thoughts: Although video games are most of the time connotated with leisure and play, there is a side of gaming that is extremely competitive. It tells a lot about the entertainment industry and how it’s shifting towards a more digital era. Athletes are normally seen as big, bulky guys but now with the integration of Esports, the image of the athlete changes. The use of a meta validates how competitive video games are contrary to popular beliefs.

Simp: A Teen Colloquial Term

--Informant Info--
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Context: The following interview was conducted online between the informant (CG) and I(Me). The informant is a freshman at CSUN. He encountered the term on social media and in-person with his peers and classmates.

CG: Most people think a simp is a kind gentleman who would do anything for women. Just kidding a simp is a boy who obsesses over women and does extreme things to get their attention. It’s like saying you’re a slave to women.

Me: Where did you first hear of the term simp?

CG: I  always described some guys to be like this but never knew about this term until I saw this on Twitter or Instagram. I see it a lot when guys would share their dm’s(direct messages) on their feed and sometimes others would call them a simp.

Me: Does a simp always have to be a guy?

CG: Not necessarily, I see it being used as a term for being sad over someone in general but because guys have more sexual tendencies and want women more, I see it more in men.

Me: Is a simp a bad thing?

CG: I think it is being overused and oversaturated. Generally, it is looked down upon now since it is used too much, but before it used to be something somewhat serious since it meant that someone was really hurting but now it’s more of a meme.

Thoughts: The creation of the word in itself shows the emphasis on mental health that a majority of young adults value. It is interesting how the word has changed to a meme. Its change in meaning shows how we are slowly being desensitized to many modern problems.

Full Out and Mark

--Informant Info--
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Informant: I’m not sure where it came from but in all hip hop dance classes I’ve ever taken we refer to a “mark” as a run through of choreo that isn’t as full energy, something you use to remember new steps or different aspects of the choreography you want to focus on. A “full out” run is one that is full energy, full facial performance, full movements. That is a run that is going to be most close to what you’d see on stage as if we were performing right in that moment.

Context: The informant is a dancer on an international US dance team called V-Mo. She has been in dance clubs ever since high school. As a dancer who has attended various dance classes, she gets to experience all the nuances that come with the classes.

Thoughts: From what I’ve heard, practice and the actual performance are two very different things. This slang is very similar to athletes who practice as if they were in a game. The two types of run throughs show how dancers are precise with their leaning and are smart when it comes to the conservation of energy, especially since dancing is physically demanding just like any other sport. 

Southern California Slang: “Hesh”

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 19
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: March 4, 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

Interviewer: What does Hesh mean?

Informant- It’s a casual word I use when talking about a vibe or aesthetic. I would use it as an adjective to describe someone or their Instagram. It means that someone has a causal aloof style and vibe. Like they don’t really care or have a skater look to them. Someone who is hesh is down to earth and goes with the flow. Usually, they never look into the camera in pictures or post photos of aesthetic things. 

Interviewer- Does it describe people and places? How would you use it?

Informant-  It describes a person and their style, not a place. I would say, “ She is so chill and has a hesh vibe.”

Interviewer- Who do you use the word with? Would some people not understand you? 

Informant- I only use the word with my friends and feel people on the eat coast wouldn’t understand it. 

Background: The informant shares that she used the word frequently in casual situations with her southern California friends. She learned the word from her southern California friends.  The word represents a style and aesthetic of a casual skater vibe. The word is an adjective used to describe the character of a person. She likes to repeat the word because it describes a characteristic that other adjectives don’t capture. She explains that she and her friends all understand what it means and communicates. It is an esthetic that she and her friends strive to have. 

Context: The interview above was taken in a casual setting as the informant recalling times using the word hesh. 

Thoughts: The word ‘Hesh’ is a slang used in with young adults in Southern California. The slang word describes a vibe and character that other words can not. This aspect brings exclusivity to the group that uses the word. The aesthetic of Hesh has positive connotations and is a popular ‘cool’ term. The word has original roots from the 1980’s LA skater community and subcultures.  From the informant’s description, the term also carries a digital aspect applying to social media platforms like Instagram. She describes Instagram aesthetics that strive to be hesh with their posts. 

“Ope”

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 22
Occupation: Student
Residence: Oswego, Illinois; Los Angeles, California
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/27/2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

(The following has been transcribed from a conversation between the interviewer and the informant.)

Interviewer: Describe to me the definition of Ope, if you can

Informant: Its kind of like like, excuse me but not in like a – aggressive way, more like a I’m sorry way.

Interviewer: It’s an apologetic “excuse me?”

Informant: Yeah.

Interviewer: Can you give me a situation in which you might use “ope?”

Informant: Umm, well recently I – at Trader Joe’s today I literally said it cuz i went too close to someone for the six feet distancing [this piece was collected during the Covid-19 outbreak of 2020], and I was like “Ope, sorry,” and turned back the other way – to not be so close to them.

Interviewer: Any other examples?

Informant: Or if I like do something to myself – I like drop my phone or something I say “ope.”

Interviewer: When you say it like that do you say it differently? Does the intonation change with the situation?

Informant: I say it like “ope.” [very clipped]

Interviewer: Every time no matter when you say it?

Informant: “Ope.” Yeah, it’s like one syllable.

Interviewer: Do you know when or where you learned this?

Informant: No but I was only made self-aware of doing it on – from twitter. I think I’ve always done it having grown up in the Midwest but I didn’t like, think about it, it was just something and then I went to California, and it – people didn’t do it… and that’s when I realized.

Interviewer: Do you know anything about where it comes from?

Informant: I always thought it started out just saying “oh,” but then it became like, I don’t know why people added “ope.” I don’t think you’d see it in, like, New York or anything. But it’s like, what is the boundary of the Midwest? It’s like – I don’t think about Nebraska and stuff as in – even South Dakota is Midwest but I don’t think of them as Midwest.

Interviewer: So what are the main states you think you’d see “ope” in?

Informant: Mmmmichigan? Ohio, Indiana, Illinois… Iowa? Maybe? I think it’s mostly, like states that I see as having like a bigger cit- like a bigger city in them. Wisconsin. It might just have to do with the fact that I grew up here [Illinois] so I feel like it doesn’t spread very far.

Background: My informant is Senior in College who grew up in Southern and then Northern Illinois. She comes from a family of middle-class background. She goes to UCLA, and therefore has adopted a mix of midwest and west coast slang.

Context: The informant is my sister, and she gave me this piece in a more research oriented setting, as she was the first person I collected from and I was determining the best way to go about the process still. She’s not very good at talking when asked to, according to herself, so I felt I had to do more prompting than I might with another informant.

Thoughts: “Ope” has become an incredibly well known, and so probably more widespread, piece of Midwestern slang/dialect. What is interesting is the informant’s discussion of where it may come from. I also use the word often and did not realize at all until recently thanks to it’s spread on the internet. I have no idea where it comes from, but I know many people think it can mean many things – one common belief is that it means “anything and everything” for example – and that is what makes it truly folkloric in my opinion.

“spoko” Polish Slang

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Polish
Age: 39
Occupation:
Residence: Boston, Massachusetts
Date of Performance/Collection: April 23, 2020
Primary Language: Polish
Other Language(s): English

Pronunciation: spôkô

Context:

The informant–MF–is a 39 year old male who was born and raised in Zagłębie, Poland but has lived in the US since 2016. This is a slang term he remembers from childhood. The interview from which this word was collected was conducted in English.

Definition:

It means all right. All there is no problem. Everything is alright means spoko. So for instance, uh, if you know somebody is in trouble or somebody is very sad. So you can say oh don’t worry, everything is spoko. Everything’s gonna be all right. So we can say like that.

Analysis:

This term has multiple variations in Poland, including “sponio” (pronounced spōnyō).

“You a scunner?”/”You’re a wee scunner!”

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Scottish
Age: 95
Occupation: Unemployed
Residence: Aberdeen, Scotland
Date of Performance/Collection: April 11, 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

MAIN PIECE

“You a scunner?”/”You’re a wee scunner!”

“Scunner is like a bother, specifically like a kid or something.  I don’t know what came first, but I say “You a scunner?” and so do many people I know around here, but my friends in Edinburgh say “You’re a wee scunner!”  We use it to kind of callout a child for being a whiner.

BACKGROUND

This informant, MS, comes from Aberdeen, Scotland and has lived there for all of her life, except for a few years she spent in London.   She’s from the silent generation so she has heard a lot of different sayings come and go over the years, but she says she remembers telling this to her sons, her grandchildren, and her great grandchildren. She even remembers her mother saying it to her when she was a little kid.

CONTEXT

I invited MS, my great grandmother, to talk with me after a family reunion zoom call.  A few

days later, we got together and we live streamed a rerun of Strictly Come Dancing over zoom and during the commercial breaks, we talked over some  folklore from her life in Scotland, specifically from her childhood in Aberdeen.

THOUGHTS

What’s fascinating to me is the dichotomy of this statement.  It appears that the idea of calling kids “scunners” when they misbehave is universal among the Scottish folk group as a whole, but the way it is said is regional within the folk group which shows you slightly different meanings.  The Aberdeen way of saying it is so much more questioning, while the Edinburgh way is more accusatory and statement based.  It shows you that variation is a very huge part of folklore, especially in this way of saying the same thing.

Common New York Slang: Brick

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 18
Occupation: student
Residence: NY
Date of Performance/Collection: 04/25/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Y: New York is just one of those places where when it’s cold…  it’s COLD cold. But in New York, we don’t say it’s cold outside, we say it’s brick outside.

This is definitely one of those slang terms that is practically branded by the region that uses it. It’s possible that the reason New Yorkers use the word “brick” to refer to the drops in temperature is that it’s extremely telling of what city it’s from. During the development of New York, and up to this day, the vast majority of the buildings were made out of brick. If you’ve ever touched the side of a brick house during the winter months, you’d know that the material absorbs the surrounding temperature. In fact, however cold it is outside, bricks usually feel ten times colder. However, the further you get from the general city area, the more buildings you’ll see made out of brick. That being said, it’s possible that this slang term is generally used by New Yorkers who live in a more suburban area like the Bronx or Queens, for example.