Language Dossier

Slang

Has anyone ever called you a wet blanket (1)? Have you ever talked to a big wheel (2)? Have you ever spent all your bread (3) for a lemon (4)? Does cool (5) music turn you on? Do you get cold feet (6) when you are going to have a test? Have you ever been outside when it was raining cats and dogs (7)? Can you keep something under your hat (8)?
All of those words and phrases probably look familiar, but they sound very strange. Their meanings don't fit in the sentences.
This is isn't a new language. It's slang, which is very old. The people who lived in ancient Rome used Latin slang words.
Every language has some slang words and phrases. Sometimes they come from people's work. Construction workers are hard-hats because they wear helmets at work. Baby-sitters are people who take care of babies.
You rarely find slang in business, and people don't use it in serious conversation. But it is an important addition to a language. Many slang words become part of the language. Baby-sitter and baby-sit have been in use only since 1945. They were slang then, but everyone uses them now and so they have become colloquial words.
Slang changes, too. Your cool music probably doesn't turn your parents on. But maybe hot music was popular when they were young. Slang can be useful in conversations with your family and your friends because it can express excitement, interest, fear, agreement, or happiness in only a few words.
However, one should be careful when using slang since slang expressions cannot always be translated successfully. An expression that is funny in one language can be insulting in another. It is better not to use slang which is not familiar to you: in that way you will avoid getting into hot water (9) and you will be sitting pretty (10)

1 = someone who doesn't want to have fun
2 = a very important person; VIP
3 = money
4 = something that doesn't work well
5 = good
6 = frightened
7 = a lot
8 = keep a secret
9 = trouble
10 = successful

* Cool related link:

A Dictionary of Slang
http://www.peevish.co.uk/slang/