I’ve recently read an article written by Isabelle Kerr where she disapproves the use of slang and criticizes those who use it. I strongly feel that she has made the wrong judgement on the way she’s interpreted slang. Overall, my main cause for disagreement would be that colloquial language is not useless and detrimental to English language. On the contrary, it is a unique format of expression that emphasises creativity. Kerr is promoting the marginalization of teenagers based on their informal writing skills. Is this fair?

Kerr begins the article by blaming the ‘young generation of today’ for their use of slang and this is exactly the reason why I feel like I am in the perfect position to respond, as I am a part of this modernized generation. She seems to argue that slang is an “invasion of bizarre, nonsensical and downright pointless words”. In fact, slang is not meaningless at all, for the simple reason that almost all slang terms have purposeful meanings. For instance, the word ‘cool’ is used almost every day and the online dictionary definition for this word is ‘A person who is fashionably attractive or impressive’. A person from my age group would use this word to praise an individual or an occurrence whereas a scientist would use it to describe the temperature. If this word is used very often by many people ranging from teenagers to parents, doesn’t that make it an appropriate word.  Especially if it is used by all age groups meaning the ‘younger generation’ cannot be blamed for universal methods of speech. This goes to demonstrate that Kerr is erroneous in arguing that slang is “downright pointless.” Therefore, I don’t believe she has the right to criticize the slang used by younger people just because her personal opinion does not concur to the use of slang.

Claiming she is “embarrassed and ashamed”, in my opinion, signifies that Kerr is trying to convey her own personal disagreement towards the usage of slang within the modern generation and this is not a general view. Furthermore, I disagree with her judgement because by using the word ‘ashamed,’ she is overstating her view and allowing your readers to develop a biased perception on slang. Nor Kerr or I can influence big corporations such as the ‘Online Oxford Dictionary,’ meaning that no one can control people’s use of slang. So then why would she feel ‘ashamed’? Kerr’s intense hyperbolic phrases over exaggerate her disapproval of slang in the dictionary. Should this change solely because of an individual’s opinion? Does the judgement of the minority overpower the majority?

Eventually, Kerr moves on to express herself on the topic of ‘twerking’ because she mentions to have watched a television programme on ‘MTV’, which diverted her attention to the sexual nature of twerking. In the dictionary the definition is ‘to dance in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance’. When expressing her feelings she says, “As a member of the younger generation, partly responsible for these linguistic calamities, I can only apologise”. I firmly dispute this statement as I do not feel responsible for any “linguistic calamities”. I feel that it’s the likes of ‘MTV’ that bolster such words and create such trends, therefore the ‘young generation’ that watch these programmes, apply this to their lives. She argues that slang is a major attribute to the young generation; yet, why is it that adults and big corporations like as ‘MTV’ set such trends and yet she doesn’t blame them?

Finally, Kerr makes a very unjustified statement when claiming “Shakespeare will be turning in his grave”. William Shakespeare was one of the best writers in his time and he was the key founder of Shakespearean English used in his plays and is still famous decades later. The creativity of his plays are renowned pieces that dominate English literature even though that format of language is hardly used in the 21st century. Why is it that Shakespeare’s plays are viewed as inspiring and modern slang is viewed as damaging? Shakespeare’s format of writing is still used today as a form of metonymy; when word association creates a metaphor. To “eyeball” a person is to stare at them and this is a slang term created by Shakespeare in which we still use today in modern society. Why can Shakespeare use ‘thou’ and we cannot use the slang term ‘sick’?

To conclude, I think that the ‘younger generation’ but also the elder generation use slang purposefully. The youth of today is not to blame, as advertisements and the media set trends in which the youth follow. So, I think it is unreasonable for Isabelle Kerr to label young people for using slang and that she should take into consideration how biased and stereotypical her article is.


Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Hi Tigani,

    This is a good effort, but there’s room for improvement.

    1) Think about how effective your word definitions are. Defining words is only useful if you can relate it to your point. For example, what is the use of defining slang in your intro? Is that different from what Isabelle Kerr is saying?

    2) Instead of ‘the following reasons’, outline your main cause for disagreement. The rest of your work should support that view.

    3) Be careful when you talk about Oxford dictionaries, it sounds like you and Isabelle might agree.

    4) Your ideas are very good – but not very well explained. Concentrate on the impact of your quotes and make your argument clear.

    5) The response feels rushed. Change that.

  2. Hello Eltigani,

    I agree with Jordan’s targets above. This is a good draft that shows you have responded to the majority of the ideas in the article.

    1) Try to write this piece as a letter address to Kerr (or her editor) arguing why you dis/agree with the points raised by the author. this will make a difference to your tone.

    2) At the same time – include the title of the article in your opening paragraph.

    3) Do what Jordan has suggested – he knows his stuff.


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