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July 2016


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Slang & Copy

Nothing’s on fleek, and terms like basic and squad have been cancelled in 2016. If none of this has made sense. Don’t worry. We’re talking about the latest slang lexicon to grace the English language.

As a copywriter, a few people have asked me if I think it’s okay to incorporate these terms when creating ads for TV, radio, or magazines. IMO (in my opinion), there’s no taboo, but it very much depends on the product, service, and most of all—the audience. There’s no point in advertising if people don’t know what the heck you mean.

Slang has been around practically since the language began. William Shakespeare, patron saint of high school literature, famously used slang and is credited with introducing up to 1700 words that have since become the hammer and nails in the toolbox of modern English. Arouse, dwindle, bejeweled, lustrous, gossip, lackluster, savagery —and a personal favorite—besmirched, are just a handful of the contributions that can be attributed to The Bard.

So without further ado, here are some of the terms I’ve dug up for 2016. Make sure that you understand the usage before getting fancy. Enjoy the list and study up!

Cinnamon Roll
Meaning: A person who is pure, who is too good for the world.
Use:
Me: I love the new Star Wars. Finn is such a sweetie.
Friend: He’s a total cinnamon roll—or maybe a finnamon roll!

Lit
Meaning: Anything effing amazing.
Use:
Me: Did you catch NINKI at Vancouver Fashion Week?
Friend: Yeah, that collection was lit.

Cancel(led)
Meaning: A statement of rejection.
Use:
Me: Should I go? I hear the food is terrible.
Friend: Cancel.

Trash
Meaning: Something so bad it should be thrown out.
Use:
Friend: Did you hear about Marvel’s decision to reveal Steve Rogers as a secret Hydra agent in their latest issue?
Me: (turns to friend): Cheap attempt at shock value. It’s trash.

Drag
Meaning: Metaphorically raking someone over the coals.
Use:
Me: You know, someone in Marvel actually approved the idea of revealing Steve Rogers as a secret Hydra Agent?
Friend: Drag him/her to the ground!

Fam
Meaning: Short for family and usually directed at an individual
Best Friend: Where do you want to eat?
Me: IDK (I don’t know) fam. Let’s go to Yaletown.
Best Friend: Are you still speaking English?

Woke
Meaning: Awareness, especially in a social context.
Acquaintance: I think women and men should be equal, so I don’t consider myself a feminist.
Me: Women still face a lot of factors that prevent them from achieving equality. That’s why we need feminism. Stay woke, bro.

Live
Meaning: Cool and exciting or extreme and intense.
Acquaintance: Ted Talks are on again.
Me: Rive’s presentation on the 4am Mystery was way live.

Savage
Meaning: Hardcore or bad-ass.
Me: Are you getting Uncharted 4?
Husband: Critics say gameplay is savage.
Me: So yes…?

Keep it
Meaning: Strong expression of approval.
Me: What do you think of Purdy’s new Goat Cheese and Chardonnay Truffle?
Friend: Keep it.

Remember slang does not automatically make a brand cool or relevant. But sometimes a new word is so apt at capturing a mood or feeling that it will, over time, be accepted into the venerated field of linguistic academia that is the English dictionary.

In any case, slang has power. There’s a certain affinity to anything that a generation adopts as its own. In other words, slang is fashion imposed on language and vocabulary. It might not endure. Like neon coloured spandex, you might even be grateful when it’s gone. However, slang is about communication. It holds the capacity to excite and engage a generation of youth—and that’s a powerful tool for any copywriter to wield.