The avant-garde of lingua-franca

Being an employee of an Eastside high school has its advantages. I often find myself on the avant-garde of slang. Of course I hear the same jokes, puns, and slang that I heard 10 years in high school: though now & then I am absolutely befuddled by what I hear.

It may be the easily decipherable calling of someone a “pan” but sometimes I hear some downright imaginative reinterpretations of what one normally hears. Usually rephrasings or pronunciations to fool the teachers. Many, I’ve noticed, are cryptic enough to go by the young Chicano teachers.

Now, although I’m currently at a loss for more examples, it’s proof positive that the true heirs, benefactors, and enablers of a language are the youth; and often the youth of immigrants. The use of “mines” versus the grammatically correct “mine” may have seemed grating to me at one point but I’ve come to feel that such nitpicking over language may be just that. Language, expression, communication is never static but dynamic.

These current speakers may not, contrary to English teachers, make Shakespeare turn over in his grave but quite possibly make him strain to hear the words used with such creativity and fervor. Just as art doesn’t solely reside in art galleries or museums, words don’t just live in dictionaries but also in the streets and high school hallways.

7 thoughts on “The avant-garde of lingua-franca

  1. I had a vato loco from the old neighborhood working with me when he got out of the pinta many years ago.
    A few of us were in the truck on the way home after work and the ex pinto camarada asks the rest of us “Orale homes you want some gums? (juicy fruit)
    We all cracked up at this and so I ask homeboy, Gums? what kind of language is “Gums”?, I bet your Jefita would be ashamed of you if she heard you talking like that.
    Homie without blinking an eye replies “my Jefita? shit ese she’s worser.
    We all laughed so hard we almost wrecked the truck.
    Language is beautiful, all language.

  2. Love this post and love that photo!
    The other day I was listening to Don Tosti and he has these bits where he freestyles Pachuco talk between choruses. It’s so awesome that this bit of language was recorded and left for us all to hear.

  3. i always knew the country had misunderestimated our outgoing president’s subliminable messages of linguistic revolution.

  4. human, I think our outgoing president’s use of language dealt much more with his utter confusion and heavy previous drug use than actual originality.

  5. “gums” hahahah 😀 whenever I hear new slang I always make sure to remember it and incorporate it into my vocabulary. I think last new word that I added to my vocabulary was La Crisis” I love it when English and Spanish combine to create new words like that. Me and my sisters would always laugh at my parents attemps to pronounce words in English.

  6. I find slang very political. Sometimes its just random, but the history of cockney in the UK was code so that poor people could talk freely without being reprimanded for saying the wrong things, certain gospel was outlawed in the US when chattel slavery was still going on because it contained messages on how to escape…once you no longer understand the slang of the streets I think its a turning point, it says you are part no longer part of the youth culture. You are no longer going to run anywhere. And you are no longer idealistic. I remember listening to Ice Cube’s Death Certificate and at that point I really realized how many people talked it was very intentional. It wasn’t about not knowing how to talk for many people, but empowering yourself with your own language and telling the establishment to go fuck themselves without telling the establishment to go fuck themselves.

  7. My ex-cholo trucker dad uses “gums” like mofo, thanks for the laugh.

    Noch was a bit more undercover than pan.

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