What effect does slang have on society?

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Slang in itself is neither positive nor negative. Instead, it reflects nuances of language usage that can link speakers to a sense of culture and ancestry. In some cases, it links members of similar ages in generational bonds. And slang constantly evolves as speakers of the language bend language rules to make it fit their needs. Consider the following generational words or phrases used describe something that is really good:

  • The cat's pajamas
  • Far out
  • Groovy
  • Gnarly
  • Wicked
  • Rad
  • Sweet
  • Fire

For just this one idea, it's easy to see how slang can identify people. And that's not an innately bad thing for language to do.

The issue arises when people cannot adapt slang to fit varying contextual situations. As an English teacher, I know that one of the requirements on almost all standardized testing rubrics is the ability to utilize Standard American English effectively. Thus, this reflects an expectation in society that all speakers will be able to adapt their language usage to fit a standard usage....

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 13, 2019