20th May 2005 at 01:00
Don't be defensive if a pupil calls you 'sick'. Bill Hicks bones up on slang

Exhausted lexicographers, worn down by the competition to find the latest in youth-speak, could do worse than log on to the TES Staffroom.

Where else will they have the luxury of eavesdropping on so many conversations involving so many people who spend so much of their lives in close contact with teenagers, out of the mouths of whom fly the finest neologisms this side of the Harvard Business School?

I was reminded of this by the post-election lather surrounding hooded tops, and the sort of young people who will insist on wearing such items, hoods-up, on their group excursions to large out-of-town shopping centres such as Bluewater.

Remarkably, the hooded will no longer gain entry to the Kent chalk-pit.

They might well have that ultimate 2005 insult hurled at them: "Be gone, you nasty chavs!"

Here in the forums, discussion of the word chav reached its peak in the winter of 200304. Now, every time it appears in tabloid headlines, as it does with tedious regularity, all I can think of are Andy91's definitive deconstructions of the word, with all its dirty class and race-based undertones.

A recently resurrected thread, "Kids' slang", offered several candidates for the next edition of the OED, whenever that's out. Here again is evidence that schools, rather than the mythical street, are the serious crucibles for extensions to the lingo. Words might arrive in the UK via LA-based rappers, but it's in the playground that they are smelted into working language.

Here is a small selection of the spring 2005 crop, courtesy of jeni-j, who admitted: "I didn't realise quite how many expressions we hear pupils using regularly." Here are her top five:

"Pepped" - rubbish;

"Mint" - great;

"Sick" - great;

"Ripped" or "rippled" - someone has got one up on someone else;

"Bail" - to fall over ("Ha ha, so-and-so just bailed!").

Kids, you say, are still using "gay" to mean bad. That's, like, so uninventive. Here's lilachardy with a defence: "But we do have different grades of 'gayness': gay, well gay, so gay and (ultimately) proper gay."

Oh yeah, but, no. Let's hear it instead for strawberrykate, with her notes towards an inner-city lexicon:

"Bare" - verya lot ("Hey man, dere's bare people at da bus stop!"); "Blapse" - hitbeat ("I is gonna blapse you); "Blazin" - smoking a joint; "Jack" - steal ("She jacked my stuff misssssss").

You'll have to turn to our forums for elucidation. Meanwhile, I think I am with ScarletHo: "Allow it. This forum's bare long."

Hang on, doesn't that mean "very boring"?

You cad! How dare you!

Bill Hicks is editor of the TES website. www.tes.co.ukstaffroom

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