What’s Modern English?

Learning English goes far beyond mastering the grammar and textbook knowledge of the language. It is the ability to communicate with the people around you. With the English language changing at such a rapid pace, the real lesson is to understand what’s trending now and pick up the style in which people around you converse. It is so much easier to communicate with your English-speaking friends in that way, and to be able to interpret accurately their intentions when they use certain words and phrases.

The Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary has completely changed the way we interpret different words. It is a crowd-sourced reservoir of urban slang where you’ll find a reference to every word in the dictionary that has an alternate usage, along with its actual meaning. People keep adding new meanings to certain words and phrases on this platform and if it catches on with the public, it becomes a part of everyday conversations. Urban Dictionary is today the ‘go to’ guide for modern English.

What has changed?

Since the Urban Dictionary (UD) became relevant, users have started to adapt new words and phrases and given new meanings to words already in use. It is highly popular among teenagers, who keep finding new secret codes and stylish slang to communicate with. The way people communicate has inevitably changed. For instance, using words like ‘Dat’ in place of ‘That’, ‘Coolio’ for ‘Cool’, ‘Lyf’ for ‘Life’, ‘Defo’ for ‘Definitely’, ‘Fab’ for ‘Fabulous’, ‘Fam’ for ‘Family’ etc has become a trend. Or when you hear the phrase “He’s a total whack job”, it means that the person is weird or abnormal for the given society. The modern-day slang is different from the ‘olden days’ and keeps changing with time. It’s the lingo that varies with generation and if you want to stay up to date, you should learn it fast. It all sounds complicated, but once you get the hang of it, it will come naturally to you. Keep an open mind, and you might soon see why modern English catches the fancy of today’s youth.

The Slang

If you scour through the UD (Urban Dictionary), you’ll find hundreds of words, idioms, and acronyms with different meanings. It’s easy to get lost in the pool but not all of them are used in everyday communication… As an ESL tutor, I get questions from my students “WTF does that mean? WTF is this? WTF is WTF?”. BTW (by the way), WTF is a highly informal acronym and means ‘to be annoyed or frustrated’ with someone or something.

How can you remember all that?

It may look complicated as there are too many things to learn. An easy way to remember the terms will be to keep it readily accessible in your pocket. You can download the Urban Dictionary app on your smartphone or write the idioms and phrases down in your notes. If you’re an ESL student, the easiest way to learn and remember them is by making flashcards; keep adding new terms with their meanings as and when you come across them. You could also make a WhatsApp group with your English-speaking friends and chat with them using the urban slang. Remember, the more you practice, the more confident you’ll be.

Where not to use it

The urban slang, although widespread, is only used informally while chatting or having conversations in social gatherings. Never use these terms when writing a college application letter, drafting a formal email, in an office presentation, or in a job interview. Although people might say that a French or Italian accent sounds sexy, they still treat you like a foreigner if you don’t speak their lingo. So keep learning. Do share with me the common terms that you like and use the most!