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Foreigners bare keen to flex by using English slang (no cap)

By January 22, 2024No Comments

A survey of language teachers by an international exam board found students ask about terms read Having a beef with your fam does not mean sitting down to Sunday lunch with your relatives, some older readers may be surprised to learn.

And even young people are asking teachers to help them understand slang terms, leading to lessons in street talk.

Research published today discloses generation gaps in language. Parents are bewildered by teenagers’ talk while children are left perplexed by idioms older people use, such as “get someone’s goat” or “a cock and bull story” or those relating to older technology such as “broken record”.

Foreign pupils learning English are now being taught modern phrases and words such as “beef”, “bare” and “fam”.

They learn that beef means to have an argument or a grudge against someone, bare means very or many and fam refers to close friends.

Adults may recognise some adjectives from the Eighties as “safe”, meaning good, makes a comeback. Others are more confusing. While “wet” means boring, “drip” has become a compliment, meaning fashionable.

Other variations on boring include “dead” and “NPC”, an acronym for non-player character, a background figure with no personality.

Rizz, the Oxford University Press word of the year last year, is derived from charisma and means good at chatting up or flirting. Those showing off are “flexing”, while “salty” means upset.

The study, in which 505 language teachers were questioned, was carried out by Trinity College London, an international exams board.

It found 71 per cent of the teachers had been asked by students to explain slang and multicultural phrases found on social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram. As a result, 67 per cent of the teachers said they included slang in their lessons.

The use of terms such as “bruv” and “fam”, which both mean a close friend, “no cap”, telling the truth, and “bare”, for a lot, suggests an influence from the Netflix series Top Boy.

Teachers estimate that 45 per cent of their pupils adopt a “general American” accent while 30 per cent prefer a ­British-focused accent. They say that 74 per cent of their Generation Z pupils now pick up a substantial amount of their English skills by streaming foreign television.

“The findings highlight the evolving nature of language in a connected world and the growing impact of social media and popular culture on language acquisition among Generation Z,” Dr Ben Beaumont, a teacher trainer at Trinity College London, said.

A modern dictionary

Beef argument
Pop-off go crazy
Dead boring
Salty upset
Safe good
Drip fashionable clothes
Peng something good
Bruv a close friend
No cap telling the truth
Bare very, a lot
Fam friend
Flex show off
Shook scared
Gassed to be excited
Wet uncool, boring
Bait obvious or well known

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