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Say what? A parents' guide to UK teenage slang

A helpful guide to understanding teenage slang

One of the themes of BBC School Report News Day is language, so we asked children in different parts of the country about their language and found that teenage slang differs wildly.

We are all British, right? We all speak the same language, surely? Not according to a very unscientific survey carried out by BBC News School Report.

Many phrases were used universally - for example LOL (Laugh Out Loud) - and for that you can probably blame rap music, text messaging, Facebook and popular TV programmes like Skins and Hollyoaks.


wasteman (London) - idiot, fool

bewt or pearla (Wales) - fantastic or beautiful

sick (London and south east) - very good

tidy or sound (Wales) - good

craic (Northern Ireland) - good fun

buff or peng (London and south east) - very attractive

bangin' or mint or lush (Wales) - very good looking

hissy (Scotland) - angry or losing temper

owned (London and south east) - beaten up or made a fool of
beef (Yorkshire) - grudge or argument

But there were also wild variations, such as with the word for an attractive or beautiful girl.

Paul Kerswill, a professor of linguistics at Lancaster University, said: "Young people try to make themselves out from younger children and parents and to some extent they are trying to create a code which teachers can't break."

Prof Kerswill said: "Words are contagious. They can be spread by music and Facebook and TV."

He has been researching a multi-ethnic accent which has grown up in inner city London and he added: "This accent, and probably the slang too, is being aped by middle class kids in places like Surrey."

But he said despite some homogenous tendencies there was also a lot of "regional development".

To illustrate the differences we gave the same phrase to children in different parts of the country and ask how they would say it in their own slang.

The phrase we chose was: "John's girlfriend is really pretty. But she got mad with him the other day because he wanted to hang out with his friends rather than take her to the cinema. She got really angry and stormed off. It was very funny."

Now see how the phrase was regurgitated in the local vernacular in five schools.

Bishopston Comprehensive School, Swansea, Wales

"John's missus is flat out bangin'. But she was tampin' the other day 'cause he bombed her out for the boys instead of going to the cinema. She... started mouthing. It was hilarious."

Holy Family Catholic School, Keighley, West Yorkshire

"Jonny's bird is proper fit and she got in a right beef the other day cos he'd rather chill with his mates than go to the cinema. She got stressed and did one. It was quality haha."

Cardinal Newman High School, Bellshill, Lanarkshire

"John's burd is well stunnin'. She wis pure mental wae 'um the other day cos he wantit tae hing aboot wi 'is pals 'n no take hur tae the Showcase. She took a hissy 'n bolted. It wis well funny."

Phoenix High School, Shepherds Bush, west London

"John's chick is proper buff but she switched on her man the other day 'cos he wanted to jam with his bred'rins instead of taking her out to the cinema. She was proper vexed and dust out. It was bare jokes."

St Cecilia's College, Londonderry, Northern Ireland

"John's girlfriend is pure stunnin'. But she was ragin' cos he dogged her out of it to got to the pictures with his muckers. She pure went into one and booted. It was some craic."

Rodborough School, Godalming, Surrey

"John's girlfriend is well fit. But... he wanna chill out wid his m8s rather than take her to the film. She got like well lairy and she legged it. LOL."

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