Where does the “slang” come from in the English language?

British Slang
Spoken English language is influenced by many factors such as fast changing technology and ‘identity’ language used by younger people. These influences help create colloquial and slang language. While this can be challenging for new speakers of English, an understanding of slang helps to localise their speech.

Students from all around the world are currently using SpeechSchool.TV’s online English Accent learning program that employs video training to neutralise accents in spoken English.  Many of these students have come to English as a second language.  In order to reach their goal of gaining a neutral and natural form of English, understanding slang and where it comes from can really help.

Languages of course are not static, they are forever changing with use.  English is one of the fastest changing languages due to it being the world’s global language and the basis for a large proportion of modern science and technology.

So where does slang come from?  As a language is used in different communities and is influenced by changing technology, new words start to enter the lexicon.  Younger people and technology are among the most powerful influencers.  Teenagers and young adults seek to create their own identity and in Western cultures play the most significant influence on fashions.

In the 1960s, the sexual revolution in Britain led to many slang words entering normal usage which would have previously been considered obscene.  For example ‘tosser’ and ‘wanker’ are now common slang simply used to denote an idiot.  These words entered the language as slang when first used by younger people pushing linguistic and social boundaries.

In the same way, technology is influencing the English language.  For example words like ‘spam’ and ‘bandwidth’ were originally tech terms but have now become common slang.  Bandwidth for instance was originally a technical term from internet hosting but is now used to describe a number of situations where something is limited by space or capacity.  When a person says “I don’t have the bandwidth for this right now” that means they don’t have the room in their mind to consider it.

English is a global and dynamic language, introducing new slang words from the sub cultures of youth and high-tech.  Understanding slang and where it comes from can help speakers use and avoid it appropriately as different situations require.

From Speech to speech delivery

English Speech Writing
The late Steve Jobs was a legend in producing and delivering English speeches that compelled an audience while demonstrating different thinking.

You may not know, but the late Steve Jobs who helped create the iPhone was also renowned as an inspiring public speaker.

He possessed that most special ingredient – charisma, the ability to get people to follow him.  Charisma may seem like a mystical quality but psychologists have actually broken it down into forces such as confidence, optimism, an interest in others, a passion for your subject and an ability to express it.

These forces in fact result from being;

(1) relaxed and happy, (2) loving your subject, and (3) wanting to connect with others.

Connecting with others is the key.

A female journalist once interviewed two wealthy and eligible men in England for a magazine story.  After the interviews she was asked which of the men she liked better.  Both were successful and attractive.  But only one had real charisma.

“Well she said, the first gentleman made me feel like I was with the most important person in the world.  But the second gentleman made me feel like I was the most important person in the world.”

Good presentations gain their charisma from making your audience feel like they are the most important people in the world.

So what can we learn from the presentations of Steve Jobs?

In her book ‘The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs’, Carmine Gallo outlines some key techniques.  Let’s take a look in this blog at just a few of the key features:

1. The Power of 3

Analysis of his presentations suggest that Steve Jobs never tries to make more than 3 key main points.  Why is 3 magic right number?  It’s memorable for the human mind.  It was never Goldilocks and the seven bears was it, or the four stooges?

2. The villain and the conquering hero

Great presentations are ultimately built on sharing stories.  The best stories involve the conflict between good and evil, or a hero and a villain – the more treacherous the villain the better.

Steve Jobs would often begin with introducing the villain – for example, access to the internet never being truly mobile – and then he would reveal the hero, or the solution that would make your life easier and more enjoyable – the iPhone.

3. The care factor and the build-up

In the early part of his presentations Jobs seemed to focus on the key question, why should you care?   Once he got the response, “yes, I  care,” he’d then develop it to work towards a “wow, that’s amazing!” moment.

In the award-winning online Master Communicator TV course, by SpeechSchool.TV an entire lesson is devoted to more fully exploring the techniques as used by Steve Jobs.  Get more information about this English Public Speaking course.

Professional Communication Courses

Professional Development Course
Professional development is about learning to think and operate better and equips members of an organisation to improve productivity for years to come.

Every organisation wanting to lead its field is always looking for new ways to improve the way they do things.  While external consulting, improving systems or a raft of other measures can help, it must also be remembered that an organisation is only as good as its people.

The ability and potential of each person within the organisation can be expanded through professional development courses on a regular basis.  While many such P.D. courses, as they are known, are focused on hard skills such as retraining to use a new software suite for instance, in fact it is often those courses that focus on more personal skills that achieve the greatest overall improvements.

As anybody who has spent time in University and then experienced a successful and profitable career knows well, it is not so much what you study at the time but how your brain is trained to think from that study.  Indeed, analysis of The Sunday Times Rich List, indicates that while a majority of Britain’s wealthiest individuals are tertiary educated, they have often strayed far from their field of study to build successful businesses.

A good and typical example of this is Martha Lane Fox who read ancient and modern history at Oxford University but then went on to build lastminute.com, one of Europe’s most successful online travel businesses.  Ms. Fox has remarked in interviews it is the ability to think that is more important than undertaking a particular area of training.

Technology is also improving speed and availability for personal professional development courses.  An example of this is the speech development and communication courses offered by SpeechSchool.TV.  These courses make use of online video and an assessment system and have already been awarded internationally.  By undertaking speech training, organisation members can improve their communication skills and be better understood in the workplace, creating improved efficiencies and outcomes.

More about professional development