Teenage Slang (…) Impact Of Language Development On Social Groups

OMG; TBH; Sus; Lit; Slide in my DMs (…) Youth language, what now?

The language of young people is a controversy that is often portrayed in the media. Besides debates on the decline of language and the denigration of youthful media cultures, Book publisher “Langenscheidt” annually awarded the “Youth Word of the Year”. The youth language – as well numerous youth cultures – stands in the field of tension between prestige and stigma. However, the phenomenon of youth language is a centuries-long development of community-creating tongue in the course of finding one’s own identity. People need to define themselves through social groups and their associated values are omnipresent and therefore resulting formation of a group-specific language seems natural in the face of linguistic variety, which is why the following question arises: Which tasks does the youth language fulfill in the development phase of adolescent?

The term youth generally describes the phase of life of a person in which the transition from childhood to adulthood takes place. The developmental span of adolescents is not only defined biologically – for example by the duration of puberty – but also influenced by sociocultural factors, such as for example the development of one’s own identity. To be emphasized as characteristic is that pronounced self-realization of young people through social groups, which  reflect interests, views and values. In addition to the socio-cultural attempts at definition, the Austrian state recognizes Citizens from the age of 18 as of legal age, the youthful age in educational science, on the other hand, is classified between 13 and 25 years of age.

The youth language is by no means a phenomenon of the post-war world, but a socio-cultural factor that grows with each generation. As early as the 18th century, the German writer Christian Kin published 1781 the dictionary “Student Lexicon” including expressions and phrases used by students at this time and thus points to a linguistic demarcation of the students from the rest of society that already existed. At the beginning of the 19th century Daniel Ludwig Wallis writes about in Student associations spoken student language. In his work, Wallis writes of a “brevity and coarseness”, by which student language is shaped, as well as by a partly universal, partly university-dependent language, which, however is spoken exclusively by students. These days, common terms such as “Pub”, “brisk”, “embarrassment” and “duzen” [German: Kneipe, Flott, Blamage & Duzen] also come from the student language of 18th and 19th centuries and testify to the need of young people for a “bond among each other “and the” demarcation to the outside “.

The heterogeneity of youth tongue is relevant when attempting to define youth language. Accordingly, youth language is not youth language, but a multilingualism, because not every youth group has the same linguistic differences second hand. The different youth languages can be broken down in three levels according to Susanne Augenstein: The youth language in “peer groups” (groups of friends) as singular Group language, in youth group as means of structuring different Scenes, and in the overall social grouping of youth as age-specific Sociolect.

In principle, youth language functions can be divided into a social and a capture of the communicative level. The communicative level is characterized by purpose-related, subject-dominating functions and fulfills both performing and metalinguistic tasks. In the area of ​​the display function, there are terms which are formed for the purpose of linguistic necessity. When young people lack a term, a different word from a different scene can be taken over. Metalinguistic functions stand out through tasks that structure communication. This is how typical youth terms signal the linguistic framework and thus roughly determine the course of a conversation. The social level of language typical for young people focuses on terms whose purpose is determine of a social identity. These are expressed, among other things, in an expression function, in which group-specific language patterns act as self-discovery. Give a lecture adolescents when speaking to their associated group, expressing their own values ​​and reflects interests. The identity of each person is not individually, but predominantly characterized by social contacts, because adolescents admit the use of expressive group language thus reveals their own identity.

This and much more can be read in this paper, available in this article or digitally as a download. Stella Müller, twenty years old and from Vienna, introduced us to the field of language education for young people by this scientific work. The interesting areas of linguistics, speech therapy and socio-cultural identification thinking, i.e. in the context of social class and position and the resulting delimitation and performance, are dealt with. We are already looking forward to the next contributions from Stella Mülller and would be happy if you send us a contribution too!


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Scientific work prepared for: Musik Gymnasium Wien

Author & Intellectual Property (C) of Stella Müller / September 2021


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