Fun and Games for Language Nerds

While I am always trying to stay abreast of French culture and improve my French language skills, I also consider it my duty to brush up on my English vocab whenever possible. As you probably already know, a good translator should be more concerned with mastering his or her mother tongue than the language he or she is translating. So when I happened upon these Slang Flashcards in a local shop, the nerd in me let out a little giggle of excitement. What could be better than working on my English with these snazzy flashcards that include definitions, illustrations, sample sentences—and games!


Please know that I am not one of those translators who holes up in an office with my nose in a book. Au contraire, I consider myself quite social and I try desperately to keep up with the times, although my two nearing-double-digits children serve as daily reminders that my slang is getting rusty (read: archaic). Here was my chance; the package guaranteed that I would “Get hip in mere days!”

Getting straight to it

Feeling quite confident that we were already quite hip, my colleague Sabrina and I decided to test ourselves, i.e., take a stab at defining the terms before flipping the cards to reveal the definition. The first term: muggin’. Yeah, I didn’t know that one. Up next: salt. Naturally my proposal was the not-so-slang definition found in the dictionary. Alas the term has—according to the flashcard and seconded by Sabrina—since taken on another meaning. As you have probably already guessed, my colleague (who is almost ten years my junior, in my defence) pwned me. I did however recognize the word kicks, saving me from total mortification.

But it makes you wonder where—or with whom—you have to hang to speak street? The high school caf would be my guess. Singing “shorty this” and “shorty that,” Sabrina suggested I listen to more hip-hop or “young” music, like the stuff playing at the clubs (and she wasn’t referring to the 80s bars that my generation frequents).

Don’t waste your time looking in Gage or Oxford for these coinages; something tells me the majority of them will fizzle out before ever warranting inclusion. And what about a word like pwn—that isn’t even pronounceable and that, in this case, evolved from a typo . . . does it really have a place among all the conventional English terms? It would be like including LOL, but that’s another can of worms altogether.

If it offers any consolation, when some guy comments on your badonkadonk, or invites you to check out his whip, you can get his gist with a quick Google search or go straight to Or you could always do as I did and get yourself a deck of Slang Flashcards for a quick lesson and a good laugh.

Now if only I could find a way to slip these words into my translations . . .


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