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How to Interpret Slang English Words

marijuana slang
by roujo

Although slang terms are commonly used by the youth, they finally find inroads into the vocabulary of the language/dialect. For every term of slang, there may be equivalent formal English word.

The biggest challenge in interpreting slang is that the linguist understands the expression that is being communicated with the slang word. Different languages have different slang terms, but despite that all the slang words are trying to express the same basic emotions of excitement, joy, fear, disgust, anger etc. So instead of looking for a literal translation of the slang word, it is important that the interpreter have the relevant cultural context to understand what the person is trying to express and then convey the expression in the target language.

As easy way to identify the structure of slang terms is to check for the occurrence of one or more of the following:-

Slang terms/phrases use symbols instead of letters
They might use similar sounding letters to replace the original ones
Slang words use a heavy degree of capital letters, even when they are grammatically incorrect, to claim for attention

As mentioned, these slang words are not of standard use. We have to interpret slang English Terms with their corresponding formal words to understand and convey what the writer wants to. There are resources aplenty available for helping linguists with slang English words. Some of the examples are:-

Dictionary of Slang English
Slang- Wikipedia
British Slang book
On-line Slang Dictionary
Australian Lingo Guide book

A list of some of the English Slang words with their Equivalent words is as follows:-

Dope=stupid
Dirty=obscene
Dork=strange person
Drag=boring
Dynamite=powerful
An earful=a lot of gossip
Eating away=bothering
Fix=dose of drugs
Flaky=unreliable
Fox=very attractive

The real challenge for the interpreter arises because most languages might not have cultural equivalents of certain words which represent a concept. For example, it would be extremely difficult to explain to an Englishman the concept of certain local Indian rituals and ceremonies like sati, sindoor, mundan simply because there are not cultural equivalents. The other challenge arises when one is interpreting pun, humor, sarcasm. These expressions are routed in cultural contexts and might not make sense to people from a different nation and/or culture.

Article written by Mr. Ram Kesarwani, Director of Translation India – offers simultaneous translation equipment and tour guide system for industrial visits from India.

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