The latest podcast episode will be particularly fascinating for those who are forever entranced by American culture and language. My guest, Angie talks about language as a living, and breathing phenomenon that is constantly evolving. She mentions how humans are deliberately creating new words, playing with language, and changing the meaning and shape of words.
The postmodern theme of rupturing the status quo by creating words that capture the moment of that particular time space reality also pops up through our dialogue, especially when Angie tells us how she often makes up her own definitions of slang words based on how they sound to her when she she hears them for the first time.
We discuss how language is nuanced and how slang has multiple meanings depending on the context and the kind of message the person wants to convey through the word. There are so many levels and ways words can be used and it is intriguing how words gain traction, lose popularity, and resurface with slightly different meanings. These words could then reemerge with different connotations or they could be taken on by different groups or subgroups in society.
Angie also explores how words are shared and then spread around both in neighborhoods and on the internet. From this conversation, I really got the impression that Angie sees slang as infinitely playful and dynamic and how language is an important part of her cultural and linguistic identity and the connection she has with her home and birth place in Los Angeles, California.
Read the Transcript and Follow Along
Anne: Welcome to the American Slang podcast, where we will explore language and culture in different regions of the United States. Slang is a type of informal language that’s typically spoken in a certain area or by a group of people. Culture is dynamic. Language is dynamic. And in this podcast, we will explore the connections between them and the way new words and expressions emerge in different places in America. I’m Anne. I’m a Virtual Educator and currently work online for the United States government, teaching English as a second language through the American Embassy. You can find out more about my courses and educational resources on my website. In today’s episode, I talked to Angie, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Isn’t this conversation between us, I think will be fascinating for those of you who love American culture and language. And Angie talks about language as this living, breathing phenomenon that’s constantly evolving. And she talks about how humans deliberately create new words, how they play with language, and how the meaning changes the shape of words. She also discusses how every person can create their own definitions, their own meanings, their own uses for certain words depending on when they hear them or how they relate to their life at that point in time. So, it’s a very postmodern approach to slang, and I love her discussion of this. And then we’ll also discuss how words are spread, how words gain traction and then lose popularity, and how these words may connect with certain identities or groups of people in society. And they may disappear and then reemerge and be taken on by new subgroups, for example. So I think you’ll find this episode to be particularly enlightening. I hope you enjoy it.
And let’s get started. Hi, everyone. I’m so excited to be here today with Angie. I’ll be interviewing her about La slang and a little bit about her experience as an English teacher in Spain and also growing up and living in La. So tell us, Angie, how long have you been here in Galicia?
Angie: Hello. Um, I’ve been here for two years now. This is my second year. Um, I came in oh, my God. I came in 2021, like, late November. I got here late. Um, just Visa problems, like, very delayed COVID. Uh, um, but I’m really excited and I really love Galicia. That’s very reminiscent for me of what Northern California is. It’s very green and rainy, so in a way, it’s like home away from home now. It’s starting to become that for me. And I really enjoyed it here, though. The rain is no joke, for sure.
Anne: Did you have that experience of living here? Did you come to some certain realizations about your own culture? Like, you realize, oh, my culture is like this, or my yeah, I started noticing so much more about the United States or about California.
Angie: Yeah, it strange. Like how it is living in another country that’s very different from where we grew up from. Um and I mean, for me, being from California and being from Los, ah, Angeles and it’s just a very big city and coming here to a very much more like these smaller cities, like very being able to go to like a small like a little village and that’s completely different from what it’s like here. It’s put a lot of things in perspective like that as far as like small, like, uh, cultural subtleties, like how do you, like, say hello to someone? How do you interact with people? Some people are very shy, some people are very open and I feel like Galician people have that rep of being closed off at first or a little shy and just like, okay, like hello, but then very kind and very welcoming once you get to know them.
Angie: And I think coming from L.A. where it’s like, I guess it’s a very bustling city so sometimes people won’t even say hi to you or people don’t even interact with you. It’s always like kind of like minding their own business and not really caring. You’re just being like, oh, what’s going on? It is a big change for me. I do speak Spanish, um, and it’s unfortunate that sometimes people will tell me, oh, your Spanish is different, it’s already starting to “other” me.
Anne: Right? I noticed that they comment about accents.
Angie: Yes, it’s like as soon as you open your mouth and they just want to play that game with you. Where are you from? Ah, are you this, are you that? It’s like… No, at first for me, I don’t know, I think I wasn’t surprised because I kind of had a feeling like, okay, there’s definitely going to be something like something of this kind when I talk with someone. But it still surprises me how reoccurring it is, especially within older adults. Like, older Spanish people. Um, sometimes older Glacian people. Like, when I speak with them and they’re like, oh, wow, you speak Spanish so well. Your accent is so clear. I understand everything. And I’m just like, okay, thanks, strange. So you don’t have to comment on it. And then people will start guessing like, are you Mexican? Or I’ve gone to a lot of people saying like, oh, you’re Mexican is so great and I’m like, that’s not like, shouldn’t really say that. So it’s just like there’s this cultural disconnect that still happens here and I’ve noticed that in Spain there’s still a very big social, uh, and cultural disconnect from the rest of the world. And I see that it’s slowly getting to the point where people are starting to be more aware of like, okay, no, there’s other countries, there’s other languages, we should develop this respect for them or like an understanding or awareness of them to better educate ourselves and just be more like well rounded people. But of course that’s not the case everywhere. You’ll run into people that are very, like, oh, cool, nice to meet you. That’s awesome. Then you’ll run into people that will start assuming things about you and then start talking about stereotypes or just really want to, I guess, critically look at you, and it’s just very off putting. You’re like, I don’t want to have this conversation, you know, like, this is.
Anne: Yeah, like, yeah, there’s some arrogance there. I always think that that’s kind of a stereotype about people from Spain that they could be considered arrogant in some ways, and in some senses, I have kind of noticed that kind of arrogance. Like, oh, I don’t know about language, especially, like, accents, or if you have an accent, so they point that out to you.
Angie: That’s true. That’s true. And I even feel like when people are like, when they find out we’re American, they’re like, You’re American. And then it’s, like, also this kind of, like, weird thing I see. It always, like, kind of, like, gloss over people’s face when they have that realization of, like, you’re from America. Like, you’re from California. Like, what’s? So cool.
Anne: Let’s kind of talk a little bit about L.A. We’re going to be talking about L.A. Slang. We’re going to focus on some slang words today. And also, I wanted to just share the experience. I’m from the Midwest. The first time I went to LA I was a little bit shocked because I was kind of a small town girl. So anyway, I went there when I was ten years old with my family, because I have family that lives in California. And the first thing I noticed was we got on the interstate, and there were, like, ten lanes on the interstate, which was like, whoa, there were so many cars and so many people, and it was very crowded. And also I saw this guy in a Jeep, um, lifting a dumbbell, like, he was lifting weights while driving. He had one hand on the steering wheel and one hand just lifting weights. So this is the impression I have of L.A. I’ve had this impression my whole life. I can’t get this image out of my mind. So anyway, do you think, uh, do you see the flashy, the sunglasses, this kind of L.A. Like, this glamorous yeah, this glamorous view of L.A.
Angie: It’s starting to get there. And I was just having this conversation last night, just saying how recently, with the rise of influencers and this big romanticization of L.A. And Hollywood and California as a whole, it’s definitely starting to be there. Um, but where I live, it’s not there yet, so I’m excited. I live in Inglewood right now, so it’s currently ten minutes from the main, uh, international La. Airport. So it’s not there. But yeah, in certain parts of L.A. That you’ll go, you’ll definitely see people walking on the street with their phone in their hand and sunglasses and, like, purses or dressed nicely. I don’t know, I feel like you can just pick it up. Like you can see their energy and you’re like, oh, you know what I mean? Being born and raised in L.A., I take a lot of pride in L.A. And I love it. It’s home for me. And so as much as yeah, I do agree. It’s trying to get very crowded. Um, the traffic has started to become horrendous. Part of the reason why I don’t drive, because I’m like, I can’t deal with this. Do I want to?
Anne: The difference between the East Coast and the West Coast, culturally speaking, would you say that you could make any generalizations, like, okay, east Coasteners are, like, really, uh, tense and in a hurry, and they want to get things done. And West Coastners, could you say that they’re more relaxed and they’re more like Zen or spiritual or something? That’s one stereotype that I read in this article about East Coast, west coast difference. Culturally, do you think it’s difficult to generalize?
Angie: The generalization stereotypes will always be there. Um, but it’s funny because I think there’s a lot of similarities within that because L.A. Is a very hustle bustle city nowadays. I’m starting to think of L.A., like at least like SoCal region more as like New York City 2.0. Because I feel like that’s sort of what the life is starting to get on.
Angie: It’s very fast paced. Everyone’s in a hurry. Even like when you’re driving to the supermarket, people are just like racing past you and it’s like you need to relax, you’re going to catch you at the red light. Like chill, you’re not going anywhere. So it’s like, it’s starting to get on that weird manic. Like, I have to do things and I mean it’s sad because it takes away from your enjoyment of it. That’s something like I feel. And I felt that so much when I was in Northern California. Even being in Santa Cruz, you could feel it. You just felt like this immense breath of fresh air. You felt like people weren’t in a hurry. Like people were taking their time. A little too slow for my liking sometimes. But that’s just because, again, I’m used to the hustle bustle the quick. Like, I have to be somewhere, I got to go, I have things to do. And NorCal was very like, calm, which was nice because it was another breath of fresh air to be like, okay, it’s fine, I’m going to get it done. And when I get it done, it’s going to be cool. Like maybe not now, but like in an hour or tomorrow. But it’ll get done. Yeah, it was like a peaceful, like, reassurance that I had, which is crazy to say. Yeah, but I associate that that like more spiritual, like chillness with Northern California.
Angie: That’s what I that’s that’s how it felt and that’s what I closely associate it with. Uh, Southern California is much more like big city. Uh, like, very flashy lights, like, really awake at all hours. You’ll find food at 02:00 a.m. Like, the drive through at McDonald’s is open. Um, there’s that. And then in Central California, which, again, has its own life of its own, it’s very different, I think. I don’t have too much experience in Central California, just driving from La. To college and things like that. But it’s also so much of a slower pace because it’s very rural and agricultural. So I think that as the way of its own, is much more relaxed, but also has to get very small town vibes of, like, there’s nothing really to do here. I don’t know. I always associate people from the East Coast being very tough because, yeah, it’s very crowded, and I don’t know, I feel like it’s much more crowded because the states are smaller there, and it’s, like, a lot of population. So, yeah, you have to have your elbows out if you’re going to cross the street. And you’re like, I got to make it through. I got to catch the train. I got to go to the subway. I don’t know. I feel like, yeah, people have a very tough, hard demeanor, and so sometimes friends will be like, oh, would you ever want to live in New York? And I’m like, no, I would get eaten alive by the Bodega cat or by the grandma, being like but I admire it. I think it does take a sort of, like, not toughness, but yeah, because being from La. There’s a thing that a lot of people do. We will say, oh, you have to take the 101 to the 405, or you have to take the seven to the five to the blah blah. So we always put that in front of the number of the highway of the interesting.
Angie: And in Northern California, people don’t say that. People are like, no, you take 101, then you take four or five, then you take five to seven. Interesting.
Anne: Yeah, you’re just like, whoa.
Angie: And so a lot of my NorCal friends would make fun of me. They’re like, oh, you’re so cal. You’re so Callian. Like, you think done for the freeways? And I’m like, it sounds grammatically correct for me. Uh um, but, yeah, like, definitely the language and just how it blends together, because you can be in one part of L.A.. And drive, like, ten minutes, and then you’re already in Little Tokyo, where you go from Little Tokyo and to, like, Little Bangladesh, and you’ll see people from different cultures and food, and it’s so vibrant and so lively, and that, for me, is home. Like, being able to get in the car and drive 20 minutes, go to one town, drive another 20 minutes, and go somewhere completely different and just being very connected and very so, like, little neighborhoods.
Anne: L.A. Is full of these little neighborhoods that are culturally diverse, and you can experience that, but it’s kind of car based. You do need a car in L.A. You can’t just take a train to these places, right?
Angie: Unfortunately, no.
Angie: That’s a sad thing.
Angie: La. Uh, public transport. Not there. Not where it should be.
Anne: There’s buses, but they’re slow, probably.
Angie: Yeah. I used to go to school in downtown L.A. In school, and, um, I would have to take the bus home every day sometimes. And so, yeah, it was hard being a commuter because if you missed the bus, then you have to wait like, another hour, or you’d have to wait another half hour, and then with traffic and rush hour and oh, my God, no, it was really tough.
Anne: Yeah, I can imagine. Okay, so I’m curious about it. If I went to L.A. What are some words that I might hear? What is a word that could be potentially an La. Kind of playing word? Yeah.
Angie: You will find this in Northern California and in SoCal.
Angie: Because when I was growing up, like, middle school age, people would start to say hella.
Angie: And if you’re familiar with the word hella, I feel like it’s meant to describe, like, oh, you’re hella cool, you’re so cool. I don’t know, it’s such a funny word.
Anne: Like, it emphasizes whatever it is.
Angie: It gives you this big emphasis on, like, oh, wow. Oh wow, uh, cool. So if I say, oh, this food is hella good, or you’re hella cool, or I’m hella tired, it’s a very big emphasis on whatever you’re trying to and you can use it in different ways. Like, oh, this food is hella good, I’m hella tired, I’m hella sleepy, or M, I’m hella hungry. There’s different ways you can use it, but yeah, it’s meant to put this emphasis on things. M. I grew up saying that in middle school, and then I feel like it lost traction and lost popularity, and then it kind of resurfaced again in high school. And, um, when I go home, I still hear people talk about it and use it, but it’s still really funny to say because some people will laugh at and be like, oh, when I was younger, that was a big word we said. And I’m like, well, it’s still current, it’s definitely still in the vocabulary and still alive to this day.
Angie: Um, but hell is a good one for me, uh, for a long time, too, people would say this, uh, swag.
Anne: Okay. Yeah. Is it, um, related to clothing or money? I associate it with money or something.
Angie: That’s the funny thing. So it depends on how you’re using it. For example, people use swag to define merchandise. Uh, let’s say a band or something like, oh, I love your swag. And then people would be like, oh, you have so much swag. Which is like, swagger, too. So much cool to you. There’s something like, okay, I see you. You’re up there, you’re cool. You have this energy about you. You have so much swag.
Anne: Yeah, um, like it’s the way you kind of are your being the way you kind of walk and then some.
Angie: People kind of swaggertude. I think that’s what the worry comes to.
Anne: Yeah, swaggertude.
Angie: And then people just cut it to swag.
Anne: Swag. Okay.
Angie: And then for a while, people would just say swaggy, which I’m just like but I’m trying to remember in what context you would say swaggy.
Anne: I don’t know.
Angie: You would say that instead of being like, oh, swag.
Anne: But mhm.
Angie: Then people, I think started using it wrong. People used to be like, oh, swag. To be like, oh, that’s they’re like, okay, cool. Or like, okay, if I just said, you say, okay, let’s go for coffee and be like, okay, swag.
Angie: But I think that usage loss is traction because I don’t think people would want to be saying swag, uh, swag. There are definitely a few words from Spanish that people will say and that kind of is now used a lot in English and people will change it and use it for themselves. Yeah, no, I think for another word that’s definitely used sometimes in English. Um, I’ve heard someone say, like, chuko ChuChu. But it’s meant to say, oh, that’s either gross, you’re like, oh, it smells dirty. So if I walk in somewhere and I see mud and dirt and M, I’m like a shuko, or you’re covered and you’re just dirty, I’m like, oh, suzie and shuka. Go take a shower. So, uh, some people say that, um, I think it was like popular for a while and then I sort of, again, lost traction within mhm non Spanish speaking circles, people would use it. And then there came a point where it’s like, it’s kind of stopped because.
Anne: In Spain you would hear like, “que asco,” But I know.
Angie: Is it similar to Latin American? We have a lot of words like that, like, okay, that’s true in my family. Okay, it gave me disgust. Or ah, disgust.
Anne: So it’s similar to that, but it’s more like slang from Spanish slang, I want to say.
Angie: So, yeah. Um, or how smell you’re like, oh, well, um, yeah, that one.
Anne: A lot of times with your spelling, you might go between the two languages. Like some Spanish words you might some English, Spanish, back and forth sometimes between the two languages.
Angie: Yeah, definitely a lot of Spanish in there. And it’s funny because people here, too will tell me, like, how is it that we can be speaking Spanish? And then you start talking to me in English, or you start putting like five words in English or the M reverse. We’ll talk in English. And then my roommate last year was telling me that when I would speak to her in English, she was saying like, yeah, sometimes you would change your structure, like your sentence structures, your grammar structures when you’re speaking. So it’s like you’re translating what you said in Spanish into English and I’m not even conscious of that at all. Um, she pointed it out, I was like, Interesting. I wouldn’t have thought about that. Um, but then I caught myself saying it. I can’t remember with what, but I was like, oh, I see. Now I understand. I see. I see. But I think that’s the fun.
Anne: Ah, even I do the same thing after living in Spain for so long. Oftentimes you just translate and it just sounds a little bit odd in English because you’re used to the structure in Spanish or something.
Angie: In Galician too. Because you speak Galician. So I imagine I’m learning now. And even like, that just like if someone referring to anyone like, oh, hey kid, what’s up?
Angie: No, but what’s up is actually still relevant.
Anne: It’s still around. What’s up? Yeah, okay.
Angie: I feel like that’s never going away. Which is nice because I love to say that to him. Like, hey, what’s up?
Anne: Do people still say dude or man? Or is that just out?
Angie: Like, would there be I think it’s definitely gone out.
Angie: Out of, like style.
Anne: Yeah, completely out of style. So what would you say for hey, man or something instead? Is there some alternative to that?
Angie: Um, I feel like you would just.
Anne: Say, hey, just, hey, how’s it going?
Angie: Hey, how are you? Um, but I used to be the dude. I used to say, hey, dude. Dude was part of my vocabulary every day until a point I called my mom dude. One day, I was like, hi. I was like, dude. And my mom was like, what? She called me? I was like, say, I’m so sorry. I did not mean to do that.
Anne: Once you made the realization you were calling your mom dude, you’re like, uh, maybe I need to change this.
Angie: Maybe I should stop saying dude. Yeah. And my sister would be like, stop it. Stop saying dude. I don’t know, it became second nature to me. Like, if I adopt a phrase, I.
Anne: Keep saying it because the reputation of California is saying everyone’s saying like all the time. Is that still something that people are doing? Or is it like the Valley girl?
Angie: No, it’s still funny because how big California is.
Angie: In Northern California, I can’t really remember if I would hear people saying, like, there definitely would be people that say like, mhm, this and like that.
Anne: I know I say it too much, I say it way too much.
Angie: Um, but yeah, in L.A. it’s definitely still there. It’s still really prevalent. People will say like a lot. So it is like that reputation, like the Valley girl. So it’s still there. It’s definitely still there. Um, and I mean, there are some people that you’re saying like, you catch yourself and you’re like, I need this. Like you catch yourself and you want to stop. Um, you become very aware of it. So no, that’s still a brown. But yeah, like, dude or, like, sub sick was also another big. People would say, oh, that’s so sick.
Anne: Meaning it’s really cool, it’s really great. And that’s kind of gone out of style.
Angie: No, surprisingly, I heard that a lot over the summertime. I would hear my younger friend, who she’s three years younger than me, and she would say, she’d be talking to her friends. She was like, oh, that’s so sick. Or we went to Six Flags Magic Mountain, like, road roller coasters one day, and she was like, oh, that was so awesome. It was so sick. Like, let’s go again. And it was for me, I was like, okay, good to hear that around. People still use sick. Haven’t used that in a minute to describe, um, having used it in a brick.
Anne: Yeah. Uh, you just said something that was kind of slang, like, haven’t used that in a minute. Which in a minute is also playing, right? Yeah.
Angie: Uh, that’s definitely still something I say. And some people, I think, for me, I got that from Northern California. It was definitely something that I picked up and I still like to use now. And it’s just something that I’ll text it and I’ll say it, and I’m like, okay, give me a minute. Oh, it’s been a minute. Or It’s been a hot sec.
Anne: Oh, it’s been a hot sec. Yeah, that a hot sec would just be like, uh, uh could you give me an example of how you would use a hot sec?
Angie: I would say, give me a hot sec.
Anne: Oh, give me a hot tuck to get ready.
Angie: Yeah. Like, give me a hot sec. Or I’d say if someone’s putting pressure.
Anne: On you to leave or something, and you’re like, yeah, I need a hot sec. Or give me hot sec.
Angie: Yeah, give me some time. Give me a few extra seconds.
Anne: I heard my niece saying that the other day, and I was like, A hot sec.
Angie: Or I haven’t seen you in a hot sec.
Anne: It’s been a hot sec. Yeah, I haven’t seen you in a hot sec. I like that. Uh, Americans just cut off the end of the words because it would be second and they’re just cutting it and.
Angie: Shortening all the more like Andalucians.
Anne: Yeah, that’s true. We cut things. Okay, what about I wonder if you could tell us about slay, how it’s used?
Angie: Because slay, it’s here to stay.
Anne: It’s here to stay. A sleigh is something that Santa Claus rides, uh, to deliver gifts. But I’ve heard slay as slaying, so slay. Oh, it’s slay.
Angie: Yeah, that’s slay.
Anne: I thought it was sleigh. Okay. Nevertheless, what does sleigh mean? Oh, my God. How would you use it?
Angie: Slay is one of those fun words that, again, like hell. It’s meant to emphasize. I think it’s such a cool word of encouragement. Like I said, any you slay. Like, you’re killing you. You’re doing amazing. It’s such a cool word to, uh, encompass a lot of encouragement, a lot of love, and a lot of just, like, support. Because I could say that about a person. Like I said. Any slay? I can even say it about a movie. Oh, that movie slayed. It was so good.
Anne: So it’s a verb, like slayed? It’s slayed. Interesting.
Angie: It definitely came into popularity a lot also when I was in middle school and people started saying it a lot, like, oh, slay, slay, slay. But it became one of those weird words like swag, where it’s just so popular, so commercialized, that it kind of like after all, people were like, okay, enough of that. Let’s stop it. Um, and recently, I think within the last year, it just resurfaced all of a sudden, like, social media and pop culture. But the way it’s turned from this weird, really awkward, cringy, commercialized way of saying slay now, it’s more used to like it’s a very big word in LGBTQ plus communities. It’s like slay, like, power to you. And it’s evolved a lot in the way people want to use it and the way people associated with it’s. True. Like, my outlook has definitely changed. I like to use it with my friends and with people. Again, words of encouragement to sort of be like, you’re incredible. Like, you’re doing amazing. You’re killing it. You’re killing the gang.
Anne: Um, so you would say use slayed it or slay. Just use the word slay. Or would you? Yeah.
Angie: Uh, for example, I could be like, you’re going to slay? Or slay it.
Anne: No, you’re going to slay.
Angie: Yeah, you’re going to slay. Sometimes people just say, yeah, just slay. I have a friend, and, ah, she’s always like, slay. She’s, like, bestie slay. And I’m like thank you. But yeah, people again, I could say, like, any slay. And I’d be like this piece slay.
Anne: Um, so it’s, like, a huge compliment.
Angie: Yeah, a huge compliment. Because, again, I think it’s such a word of encouragement that it’s encompassing a lot of emotion, a lot of love, encouragement, or I don’t know. That’s the way I think it’s completely else can have a different outlook on, um, what they think slay means and how it’s used daily. But for me, that’s something I’ve seen people use it now.
Anne: Um, that’s really interesting how you’re talking about the evolution of some of these words, how they start, and then they kind of get taken over by pop culture, and then they come back to certain communities, like the LGBT community, using slay more, the evolution of these words.
Angie: Yeah, I think that’s the nice thing, too, because it’s like, language is always like it’s a living, breathing thing. Like, it’s always going to change.
Anne: Um I don’t know.
Angie: I feel like we have a lot of popular English words. Sometimes people shorten and then want to change the meaning of but we know it’s not, like, accurately. Like that meaning. But, uh, people just want to give it a new life, give it a new meaning, give it something else to do.
Anne: Do you feel like that’s kind of the creativity there’s, uh, so much creativity. I don’t know, to create new words. Do you feel like people are creating new words all the time? It’s sort of new language, new words.
Angie: Yeah, and I used to say that too. Like, I used to make up my own phrases or I used to make up my own random words when I was younger because I was like just because I felt like sometimes maybe I didn’t have the right word or I didn’t have the right phrase to express, like, my excitement or my, like, shock or something. Like, um, for a while, like, I didn’t know people would say this, but I used to say cool beans a lot.
Anne: Oh, cool beans. Yeah, cool beans. Yeah.
Angie: But no one like my age was saying that. No one in my school and my friends are all saying cool beans. And one day just kind of came to me, I like was, oh, cool beans. Uh, and I was like, okay, cool beans. And I used to say, awesome. Possums.
Angie: So that’s a real thing.
Anne: Yeah, that’s true. Awesome Possums.
Angie: No way.
Anne: No, I’ve never heard of it before. But I hear people always inventing stuff like that, just being creative and playing with words.
Angie: And I remember clearly being in high school using these words like cool beans.
Anne: Uh huh.
Angie: And then awesome possums. And people would make fun of me, like, awesome possums. Like, what is that? And I remember in college, just out of the blue one time, I was like, instead of saying, that so close, like, that’s gravy. It’s gravy.
Anne: That’s gravy.
Angie: Yeah. That’s so cool. Yeah, that’s gravy. That’s cool. That’s dope. Um, or even dope mhm. That dope is also another word, like, freshly used. Yeah, it’s like it lost traction and then it’s slowly wiggling its way back into, like, popular vocab everyday language.
Anne: Dope. Yeah. When I was in New York, it was said a lot. Just really cool. Yeah.
Angie: Dope. Dope.
Anne: But it’s also Northern California, I think. I don’t know.
Angie: Oh my God. One thing that I’ll never forget is when a friend of mine described a song as like a banger. Oh, yeah, a banger. And I was like, what are you talking about with that? What does that mean? Or people would say, like my friends would say, oh, that slapped. Whoa, really? That song slaps mhm.
Anne: So what is a banger? What is a banger exactly?
Angie: Banger is just a song that is like it’s it it’s like everything you want. It’s like, oh, my God. This song, Banger, you want to hear it on replay, on repeat every minute. It’s just such a great song. Ah. And people will say, Bangers, like, oh, these Bangers, like, one after another. Um, and I mean, sometimes I’ll say that because, like, oh, that song is such a banger. Or like it bangs, or more like, it slaps.
Anne: Like song slaps. Yeah.
Angie: Um, but I’ve heard it used more for music, like for movie wise. That movie slaps. Mhm. Yeah, I guess so. Because I mean, yeah, it’s meant to express like, how cool it is or how like yeah, how much you like it, or how much like yeah, like, I wouldn’t mind seeing it again, or I really enjoy it.
Anne: I’ve never heard that before.
Anne: Really? I love it though. I like that idea. Yeah, it slaps. It is a little violent, though. Some of the American slang tends to be a little violent. Mhm, but that is interesting that you say and other people have talked about that, like traveling to different regions and not being able to understand what they’re saying and just say, okay, what does that mean? Exactly? But, um, there’s so much linguistic diversity in different cities in the US. Do you feel like in neighborhoods, too? Like, in L.A. Could you go to one neighborhood and hear a completely different slang than another neighborhood? Or do you feel like it’s more uniform slang in the city?
Angie: It’s a mixture of both.
Angie: Uh, it’s very much like uniform, which is crazy because it’s like, how quickly I feel like you can hear a word, a phrase, how quickly everyone’s going to talk about that. And then there’s always going to be like some phrases or some words, like someone else will be saying and you’re like, oh, I’ve never heard that before.
Anne: That’s cool.
Angie: And then I feel like you’ll pick it up and then you’ll start saying and then you start to spread it around too, so I definitely think so, yeah. And I mean, nowadays the cool kids are always saying things to and creating new words and phrases are, again, like, redefining old phrases and redefining old words and trying to use that in their vocabulary nowadays. Um, ah, that’s definitely yeah.
Anne: That we were talking about in the Bay Area. Something like some of the words from the 70s are coming back. Even like, the word gnarly, which would be like a surfer slice, is kind of back now.
Angie: I remember trying to use that word gnarly, but then after I was like, no. I’m going to get into it. For me, as like, gnarly, there may.
Anne: Be certain words that you feel more comfortable with that you like to say more that just fit more with you.
Angie: Right? Yeah. And like I said, I think with a lot of slang words, especially like, new up and coming slang words are words that are that were popular once and kind of disappeared for a while.
Anne: They come back. Yeah.
Angie: Research definitely, like, changing. Um, the definition has changed. Mhm. Another word that just came to mind is, like, simp. Oh, have you heard of that?
Angie: If someone says, like, oh, he’s such a simp. Or like, oh he’s simping. S-I-M-P mhm and then S-I-M-M-P-I-N-M-G simping.
Anne: What does that mean?
Angie: I can’t really tell you the straight answer because I feel like there’s the same thing. There’s so many different definitions to it. There’s so many different contexts you can use for sure. When I heard it in college, my definition was my friends and I say Sad Boy Hours. Like when you’re just listening to sad music that you’re just kind of in your field and you’re just like, oh, I want to kind of be like emo. I just want to stay here and listen to some indie music or just something that will kind of make me sad for a while and like melancholic. I don’t know. Sad boy, sad boy hours.
Anne: Sad boy hours. Sad boy hours.
Angie: Okay, so that’s a big thing. And that’s something I heard from, um, Northern California and then it’s also gained popularity in La. In the SoCal region. So people will be like, oh, it’s bad boy hours. Only like, oh, it’s sad boy our time. And I’ve seen it in like mainstream media now too. But it was so funny. I was like, yeah, sad boy hours. So within like this concept of sad boy hours, um, someone was like, oh, like, well for me this is where the word simp was introduced and this thing and I sort of took on a meaning of my own with the word simp. When I heard simp I was like, oh, so someone that likes to listen to Sad Boy Hours is someone that likes to listen to just like sad music or music that’ll make them sad or emotional or something. And so I’d be like, oh yeah, I’m going to go simp now. Listen to sad boy hours.
Anne: But then kind of measure sulk or something silk or SIMP, I don’t know for a minute. Uh, but I love the idea of taking a word, it doesn’t matter, uh, how it’s used in other contexts and just making it your own. Just like, this is what it means to me.
Angie: I have the habit of that. And then people would be like, no, that’s not how you use it. And I’m like, well this is how I want to use it. Because with Simp, I think really what it means is it’s meant to describe a guy, uh, and it’s always meant to describe him sort of like longing for this girl or like this love. Like sort of this unrequited. Love and sort of going out of his way to do the most and trying to be like garden to get the attention or just to sort of get a notice or recognition. So sort of like a guy that will kind of do anything to get to the person, get to the girl. And so they’d be like, oh, he’s such a SIMP. He’s simping, he’s like, falling, he fell hard for her. He really likes her. He really likes him. Really likes them. But I feel like if you ask someone else, what does simp mean? Then they can tell you something similar, something different as well.
Anne: Yeah, these words are really nuanced. There’s just so many layers and they’re very complex, which is why it’s a little intimidating to use some of them, because you’re like, okay, how is this person going to take this when I say it?
Angie: Yeah, and it’s funny that you say that because yeah, slang nowadays, I feel has changed a lot from how whenever we were used to saying a word like playing, because nowadays I feel like there’s so much nuance to it. Like, you’re saying there’s so many different layers. It depends the context that use it, how you’re using it in what moment, uh, what are you trying to describe? What are you trying to use it for? That I feel like also changes the meaning changes, like, the emotion and how you’re just trying to say the word.
Anne: Um, that’s true. Even the intonation of it. Is it sarcastic or is it like a positive thing or a negative thing? It could have double meanings as well.
Angie: Yeah, my mom is from Guatemala and my dad’s from El Salvador. And so already from the get go, just like Central America and even like South America and Mexico, every country has their own distinctive way of speaking slang or just like everyday usage of things. Um, and so the thing is, like, growing up in La, there was a very big, predominantly Mexican community and so Mexican Spanish kind of reigns more popular. And so for me, growing up, I grew up more speaking, like Mexican Spanish in the sense of using slang, um, using certain phrases that are more commonly used in Mexico than I would like in my own country. And so now that I’ve gone older, I’m like, well, I want to learn more phrases from, like, Guatemala or from El Salvador, like saying so in El Salvador to say phrases are saying mhm, we say ditchos. So I don’t know if that’s the thing that people also say in other parts that speak Spanish in Latin America, but we say ditchos like the saying goes. Yeah. Um, and I know my grandma from my mom’s side, she had so many great ones. And I told my mom, like, I want you to write them down for me because I would love to continue saving these and I would love to have that. And for me, that it’s always been something about identity, too, because I never really gone to Guatemala a lot. The last time I was five years old. So it’s been a long time and I have a close appreciation to it because I grew up with my mom’s side of the family, um, and my dad’s side of the family, not so much like some cousins here and there. And, uh, I recently went to El Salvador, but I was 13 or 14 years old. So it’s been a while now, and I’m 24 now, so it’s been a little bit of time. Um, so, yeah, it definitely gives me a sense of, like, wanting to know more, wanting to connect more with my roots and culture and language. Because, yeah, there’s like, certain words that in, uh, Spanish, like in Guatemalan Spanish that maybe are very different from Salvadorian Spanish. Yeah. Growing up now and being older and coming here and seeing the different languages and sayings and how Galician people hold their own things, for me, I don’t think this is Galician at all. I think this is a very Spanish thing. But people were saying, oh, porcelas mosques, mhm. Are you familiar with that saying too porcelas moscas?
Anne: I’ve heard it. I don’t know what it means.
Angie: So it just means, like, just in case. For example, right now, I’m like, I didn’t bring an umbrella, which, m, I should have because I was sprinkling on the way here and I was like, “Por si las moscas.” It’s like, I have to be prepared, uh, because you never know. It means to be that you never know, mhm. Like “Por si las moscas,” you’ll never know. But, um, I asked my mom, I was like, have you heard this before? And she’s like, yeah, this is crazy.
Anne: I’ve heard it before. Interesting.
Angie: And I was like, this is the first time I’ve heard it. It sounds so funny, but it’s so cool.
Anne: Thank you so much, Angie. This conversation has been really meaningful. I’ve learned so much from you. I feel like some amazing themes have come out of our conversation words, ideas, this whole, uh, concept of the language evolving and changing. So I really appreciate you sharing your culture with us, your identity, a little bit about where you come from. And thank you for being here and joining me on the podcast today.
Angie: Thank you, Annie. It’s been a pleasure. And, yeah, thank you so much for inviting me. And Slay. Slay.
Anne: Annie, thank you for joining me today in the American Slang podcast. I hope you enjoyed listening, and I look forward to sharing the next episode with you, which is going to be about Slang in Houston.