The Monster Whose Name is Slang
Slang is without a doubt a major part in language learning, some people call it “colloquialism”, others call it “jargon” – but for simplicity sake, we’re going with “slang” today. Let’s face it, no matter how hard we try to learn a language there are always some things that manage to slip between the cracks. Ever came out of a really intense language class only to hear native speakers of your target language say something you are completely unfamiliar with? You then proceed to search through every dictionary imaginable, only to fail to decipher the meaning…. tragic.
Here are 3 reasons why a language learner (like you) should learn slang.
Don’t be like this guy…it went completely over his head.
Have you ever heard anybody speak with perfect grammar, sentence structure and speech patterns 100% of the time? Think long and hard about it, everybody makes mistakes even in their first tongue. We all grew up in an environment which had a tremendous effect on how we communicate with each other. This is where slang comes in – there are words and phrases for actions and situations that would be otherwise inexpressible if we were to attempt to construct the meaning in perfect grammar.
All languages have something which I like to call a syllabary rate and input frame. What that means is that you have to say a sentence in a certain speed in order to get your meaning across in an efficient way. Languages that have more syllables than average for instance, Japanese will require a much faster output frame in order to string together a coherent thought. Slang dramatically cuts a sentence’s length by reducing the syllabary rate – you can say what you mean in 5 syllables instead of 10.
Here I’ll l give an example in Japanese: 彼女の家に行かなくちゃ ｖｓ 彼女の家に行かなければなりません。 Both translate into “I must go to her house.”. However, the difference lies in the slang usage of the final grammar particle. That’s a difference of 5 syllables! Slang just saved you FIVE WHOLE SYLLABLES.
Outshine Your Friends
Learning a language in a language class is great and all, but one thing a language class lacks is the deliberate teaching of slang terms. You’re not going to go to class one day and learn the impolite, casual way of saying “____must do_____”. Nope, that’s not going to happen- what is going to happen is that you’ll end up sitting in a very structured grammar course in order to drill the proper structure into your head. WHICH IS GREAT! However, most language learners find that when they arrive at the country of their target language they become flustered with the amount of slang being thrown around. Slang helps with this because you become accustomed to the cultural nuances of the language, and it makes you seem MUCH, MUCH, MUCH COOLER than you actually are – not to mention you become a freakin’ Einstein.