Last weekend I attended an international conference in Wisconsin. The weekend as a whole was awesome! Yes, I probably should have slept a lot more, but everyone’s positive energy kept me awake and in a good mood the entire time. While there we all attended programs discussing different topics and activities to do with college students. As I skimmed over all the different sections one program stood out in particular to me. The title of the program was “Learn a New Language in 45 Minutes” and was being presented by Holly Durr of the University of Arizona. Personally, I love the idea of learning a new language even though I know it is impossible to learn a whole language in 45 minutes. Still, I could pick up on a few phrases and use them when I travel right? The title intrigued me so I decided to check it out.
The session itself was far different than what I expected, but I really enjoyed it and found it interesting. Instead of learning another language we learned about the English language and how it has transformed to today’s form. In particular we discussed different slang words that may seem offensive today, but used to be used as medical terms or were non-existent all together. A lot of the times we use these words in our everyday language and don’t realize how offensive they can be. Here are some of the words we discussed:
Retarded: According to Dictionary.com this word means “slowness or limitation in intellectual understanding and awareness, emotional development, academic progress, etc.” So in other words this adjective used to be used as a medical term. Today we tend to throw this phrase around to call people or situations stupid. Many people are offended by this phrase because a loved one or a friend has certain medical issues.
Bro: The definition of this word is “a male friend or buddy.” To be completely honest I would have never gave this word a thought if I had not gone to this program. I used to use it back in middle school in a joking manner without realizing it could be offensive. A lot of people use this slang to say, “Get outta my face bro!” If the person isn’t joking it is obviously offensive, but to some it can be even more offensive when said to a girl. With this word we touched on gender impacts in our language.
Illegal Alien: This refers to “a foreigner who has entered or resides in a country unlawfully or without the country’s authorization.” Obviously, this is a rather hot topic for many parts of the United States right now. One person in our group who was from New Mexico said this phrase makes immigrants feel like they aren’t even human. We tend to only use this phrase when referring to people with a
Hispanic background, even though the word refers to any foreigner. He went on to say that many of these people came to the United States to earn more than $50 per week so they could feed their families and give their children a better education. According to the speaker they would rather be called undocumented because they just don’t have their documents yet.
Overall, this program really made me realize that no matter what our opinions are on any of these words or topics, we should all treat each other with respect. I guess you could say I did learn a new language in 45 minutes, just not one that I was expecting to! This was a really great program and it gave me a new outlook on slang and our language we speak today. Next time you are out exploring new places keep these words in mind to make friends and not enemies.
What about you? Is there slang that you believe people don’t give a thought when speaking? If a person you just met mentioned any of these words above in a slanderous way would you form a negative opinion of them? Like and Leave a comment below!!