Friday, October 24th, 2008...9:42 am

Slang and such

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I discovered last year and it has become one of my favorite sites.  Not every day, but quite often as I encounter new phrases.  I love following the words and wit of popular culture.  The great thing about Urban Dictionary is that it is user-driven.  True, someone in control gets to chose the word or phrase of the day.  But all the definitions are submitted by visitors to the site.  And my favorite feature is the way users get to vote definitions up or down. 

A few weeks ago I remembered when my former boss’s son tried a language experiment at a Berkeley middle school.  He and a friend decided to create a brand new slang term and see how far it would spread.  It was only a matter of two weeks before much of the school was using the new word they created.  And before the month was out it had trickled up to Berkeley High School as well as to the other middle schools in Berkeley.  The power of language in culture is potent and fast moving. 

Since Urban Dictionary often includes the etymology of  phrases, it is fascinating to see where things come from.  For example, I discovered that hyphy is the Bay Area originated equivalent of crunk.  And it didn’t take long to discover that FLIRJ originated on Saturday Night Live in one of the Tina Fey as Sarah Palin skits in 2008.  Warning: as that last example shows, cultural words can be racy. 

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