25th July 2013

Teen slang – is it ‘hench’, ‘peak’ or just plain ‘sick’? And is that good or bad?

‘Sup, fam? This bare safe blog post is craycray!

Alright, enough of that.

Every year, the Oxford English Dictionary adds some new words to the lexicon. We’ve recently seen ‘flash mob’ and ‘mochaccino’ join the trusty OED, but what about ‘peng’, ‘skeen’ or ‘cotch’? And how on earth would they be defined?

Online parenting forum Mumsnet has been trying to compile a list of teen slang, in an attempt to make some sense of their kids. The trend for slang words – which seem to mostly stem from Jamaican patois – is catching on early, with both teens and tweens adopting their own unintelligible dialect.

As good advertisers, copywriters (and plenty of mums) know, to really reach your audience you have to think and speak as they do. While the above may be extreme examples, an undestanding of your audience’s language is something that every business needs to grasp. One of the tactics used by scriptwriters for youth TV shows is to surreptitiously sit behind teenagers on the bus or train and write down everything they say, for example.

By accurately reflecting the language of your audience, you give your communications an added sense of realism and authenticity. Done well, this means your audience will immediately recognise your brand as relevant to them, and it can instill trust in what you’re saying too.