Damian   Thursday, August 26, 2004, 07:32 GMT
If you are learning English, or any language for that matter) and wish to converse at ground floor level, so to speak, then it's a good idea to become familiar with ordinary speech.....slang. In this forum I try to use "proper" English, but in my everyday life things are quite different! If I used some of the terms in here it would probably cause confusion. As in most languages I guess, nobody talks the way they write, would you agree?

Anyway, here is a link for anyone interested in the everyday words used by most people here in the UK. As far as I can see from scanning the lists, it contains every single conceivable slang word and expression in common usage here. If you come across a word a Brit uses, and you want to know its meaning, search for it here:
Mxsmanic   Thursday, August 26, 2004, 07:39 GMT
It's useful to be able to understand slang, but it's a very bad idea to actually use it yourself. Slang changes from day to day and from one environment to another, and using the wrong slang word in the wrong context can make an extremely poor impression. Additionally, slang used by a foreign speaker of a language almost always grates upon the ears of native speakers. There's no advantage to using slang, and there are many disadvantages. Being able to understand it when you hear it is useful, although the utility of this depends a lot on the kind of company you keep.

I understand a lot of slang in French (which I learned as a foreign language), but I never try to use it. In fact, even in my native language of English, I avoid using any kind of slang. There's just no good reason to use it, and lots of bad reasons.

Concentrate your efforts instead on expanding your standard English vocabulary.
Damian   Thursday, August 26, 2004, 07:49 GMT

I undestand what you are saying, but as a native English speaker I cannot help using slang terms when mixing with my peers! If I suddenly refrained from doing so they would think I was undergoing some strange religious or moral conversion or whatever! It's impossible really to avoid slang in everyday interaction with people.

I agree with you...if you are learning a language it is best to avoid slang. The reason that prompted me to start this thread was to help learners of English to understand any UK slang terms they encountered at any time they conversed with a British person.
D   Friday, August 27, 2004, 01:07 GMT
The difficulty with slang, and the reason that you can use slang to tell
native speakers (and extremely good non-native speakers) from fluent
non-native speakers, is that there are extremely fine distinctions that
are involved in the choice of the right slang word for the right moment.
Only a very large amount of experience will tell which slang word is
'right' for a certain situation. A slight mistake in choice will immediately
sound wrong to a speaker outside the group that uses the slang.

This is one reason why it is so difficult for a non-native speaker of
any language to pass for a native speaker under intense scrutiny,
even with a perfect accent.
Mxsmanic   Friday, August 27, 2004, 01:54 GMT
But native speakers have exactly the same problem as soon as they move outside the specific group in which specific slang is used. Virtually all slang terms are appropriate only to specific contexts and have only specific meanings, and anyone who uses the wrong word in the wrong context will sound odd, even if he is a native speaker.

This is one reason why I avoid slang. It's find if you have a circle of only twenty friends with whom you'll associate exclusively for a lifetime, but if you want to interact with a broad cross-section of society, you really need to skip almost all the slang.
Someone   Friday, August 27, 2004, 07:14 GMT
I don't think that site's very useful. I'm an American English speaker, and I've never heard of many of those words. A few are used here, but the site will only be useful for people who to go to Britain, in my opinion...
Someone   Friday, August 27, 2004, 07:18 GMT
I just looked more closely, and now I see more than just a few. However, I still say they're too many British-only terms... Maybe you should make one that does not include words used only in Britain. That would be more useful.
Damian   Friday, August 27, 2004, 07:45 GMT

You are correct.....that site is devoted to BRITISH slang terms and intended for people coming to the UK....I made that clear from the start. The UK probably receives far more short term foreign visitors than does the USA simply because of our close proximity to Continental Europe, just for starters. In my present work I come into contact with so many people from abroad, and some of them, in casual chat with me, have mentioned slang terms they hear which they don't understand.

American visitors, too, are sometimes baffled by that site is for the benefit of people trying to understand our colloquialisms.

Why don't you post a link for the American equivalent? I'm sure that will be interesting and even more extensive than the British version.
Mi5 Mick   Friday, August 27, 2004, 07:47 GMT
Mxsmanic wrote:
"This is one reason why I avoid slang. It's find if you have a circle of only twenty friends with whom you'll associate exclusively for a lifetime, but if you want to interact with a broad cross-section of society, you really need to skip almost all the slang."

You need to get out more! That's not how vocational or social life works. LOL
Boy   Friday, August 27, 2004, 09:12 GMT
For learning American slang terms:
Mxsmanic   Friday, August 27, 2004, 18:38 GMT
That's how vocational and social life work among the intelligent and educated, who manage to cultivate a vocabulary large enough and familiar enough to themselves in everyday use to render the use of slang unnecessary.

I see no reason to learn Britspeak. The British speakers of English most likely to interest me in conversation speak standard English. One of my best British friends speaks RP, in fact, and almost never uses any slang at all that I've noticed.

Remember, even if you take the time to learn slang, you have to learn it all over again every six months, every $1000 of annual income, or every 2 kilometres, whichever comes first.
Steve K   Friday, August 27, 2004, 21:25 GMT
I find that many of your views match mine, including your view on slang. Non-native speakers should avoid slang until they are totally confident in the langauge, almost native.

I would be honoured if you would check out my website and give me your feedback., Username and password - linguistguest.

Random Chappie   Friday, August 27, 2004, 23:13 GMT
I agree with Damian.

English learners do not have to *learn* slang, but a passing knowledge of it would be useful. I would certainly discourage those who have not been born and bred in an English-speaking country from using slang. Nevertheless, if one intends to travel to the UK, he must be able to understand what the hordes of British riffraff are saying.

And Someone, you can't say that a passing knowledge of British slang is not useful just because you live in the US. Maybe it's not useful to certain Americans who decide never to visit the UK as long as they live, but this character description does not apply to everyone on Antimoon.
Dana   Saturday, August 28, 2004, 00:19 GMT
I find that knowing British slang comes in really useful. Not only because I have been to the UK several times but because, as an American, I come into contact with British culture on an almost daily basis. Its much easier to understand British movies, books, music and other forms of export, which America gets alot of, if you have at least a "passing knowledge."

Also, I disagree that it is not useful to learn slang terms in whichever language you might speak. People like to make the effort to belong in whichever group they find themselves in, and since most people belong to many more than one group, knowing various methods of speaking that are appropriate to conversational partners is pertty important. Knowing the slang of any given community, to me, signifies that you as the speaker and listener are interested in actively participating in that said group.
Mi5 Mick   Saturday, August 28, 2004, 02:50 GMT

You have no reason to learn Britspeak, naturally, if you never intend to "get out" to live in Britain. It's not just slang that changes; all other aspects of language follow a similar pattern of evolution too. The most intelligent and educated of people use slang and colloquialisms in their daily lives; it helps them to be on the same level footing as their counterparts in a down-to-earth atmosphere. Not using it would limit their scope for healthy interaction and candidness.

It's use and style isn't something you can learn from a textbook, but has to be experienced, as it requires that "je ne sais quoi" that some call EQ (emotional quotient) and wit. I don't know about 6 months but much of the slang I encounter is the same as I what grew up with. If it weren't important, it's use wouldn't be so widespread, people wouldn't be writing about it or asking questions on it.