Props to the cats – the lifespan of slang

In 1973, Operation Homecoming brought 591 US Prisoners of War back from Vietnam after up to 8 years in captivity. The US Air Force compiled a list of slang terms to help these returning POWs “to get … off to a somewhat of an equal start” with their teenage children. Almost forty years have now passed, and as you might expect, some of the slang listed is as dated as 1970s clothes and music.

Not everything in the POW glossary was particularly new. For example, beautiful (since 1855) and right on (since 1911) had long been used as exclamations of approval and agreement (…) Most of the terms that really were new in the POW glossary are also still in informal use today, including drugs terms and some more general terms.

In 2042, it’s likely that a lot of today’s rap slang will still be in use as ever wider circles of people attempt to demonstrate that they know where it’s at. Meanwhile, parents will still be complaining that they can’t understand their teenage children, because that is, after all, an important part of what youth slang is all about. Read full article here

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The Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament in Schuman Building on Place de l'Europe, Luxembourg
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