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Urban Lingo In New York City

Author: Sunil Rajpal
by Sunil Rajpal
Posted: Apr 18, 2017

Urban Lingo In New York City

Communication is an integral part of a culture. There are standards, or more specifically, a code, which governs a culture's communication. This code of speaking helps for inclusion and exclusion into social groups within that culture, along with expressing attitudes specifically understood by that group.

The culture of focus in this article is New York City and its speech code of urban lingo used by young adults and adolescents.New York City is the most diverse place in not only the United States, but the world. Considering there are more than a 200 languages spoken from different wakes of life that people come from, especially the copious population of young people, it's of no surprise that there is not only a specific, but also a diverse code of speech amongst its youth. Although the melting pot is diverse, there is organization to its speech.

Urban Lingo Quiz

The use of street-lingo is a cultural pattern among youths in NYC. It is crucial in governing speech, because it sets a communicative connectivity for young adults, regardless of their diverse backgrounds and heritages. Lingo is a form of diversity in itself, since not only do the words vary, but so do their forms and utilizations depending on context, for example: "deuce" in literal English means "two," but via lingo means "goodbye," because one gives the peace-sign as a signal of saying goodbye, which involves holding up two fingers while departing.

Once again though, the form and utilization changes by situation: "deuce" means "two," which also means "peace," but if someone was playing a video game and another person wanted to go second then that person would claim "deuce" to signal that they are the second person to go, which refers back to the literal meaning of two, not the peace-sign or goodbye. Lingo is what helps govern cultural patterns of interaction among young people in Queens.

Urban Lingo Quiz

The claim that lingo is a cultural pattern of speech code by simply "adolescences" and "youths" is too broad; there is specific social criteria that these young adults meet. Many of them are generally socialized through urbanized environments on the streets, and have cliques and groups, which allow them to proliferate their usage of lingo amongst one another, which prepare them for interacting among other groups or people.

These urbanized, social environments are formed as early as elementary school. NYC's elementary school system exposes youths to the diverse ethnic backgrounds of other children from a very early age, which over time becomes a wealth of cultural word exchange. Psychologist Noam Chomsky posed his theory on Language Acquisitioning, which explains that children are language sponges that prime at the age of ten. Thus, the children of New York City are exposed to kids from all kinds of backgrounds and ways of speaking, based ethnically and socioeconomically, on the basketball court, streets, schoolyard, and more – absorbing an array of words to utilize by adolescence.

A crucial factor among these urban, street-smart youths, as opposed to those in a suburban or rural area in a place such as Grinnell, Iowa, is that most of these young adults are extremely influenced by rap and hip-hop, and extremely receptive to what's said; these artists that produce hits are setting linguistic trends through their music, which are then adapted into regular lingo and the codes of speech that go with it.

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Author: Sunil Rajpal

Sunil Rajpal


Member since: Feb 05, 2017
Published articles: 7

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