Fraser’s Phrases: Class of 2012

The very reem Skins. OMG SHE IS WELL PENG!

We spend a lot of time looking at archaic expressions here, but as we’re about to enter into an entirely new year, it’s a good time to refresh the vocab a little bit. So let’s have a look at some of the newer bits of word-twisting British slang that have crept into use over the last few years.

As you’d expect, this lot come straight from the kids, and a lot of them are so new, they have yet to fully percolate outside of the teen arena.

Oh, and a warning. Grown-ups attempting to use teenspeak, or even describe teenspeak, are doomed to look like idiots. I’ve had special training, I’m wearing protective clothing around my self-respect, and that is why I’m able to make the attempt. Do not try using or describing any of these words without proper supervision, the results could be catastrophic.

Being a teenager often involves making snap judgements of things. There are good things, and bad things, and sexy things, and pointless things and ugly things, and each of these is allocated a ration of slang, so you can differentiate yourself from your elders and betters.

So, when assessing the attractiveness of fellow human beings, new slang terms have arisen as a kind of private code, such as peng, an adjective which simply means hot: as does buff, chong, banging, mint or lush, depending on where you are in the country. The chonger the person is, the more you will need to add a well before the word – as in “he is well buff, innit,” to further emphasise their lushness.

I know, it is almost as if they’re picking random syllables and making up meanings for them, although mint and lush are slightly older, and have at least a toehold in linguistic sense.

At the other end of the scale, there’s butters, a description of a girl (and it always is a girl, sadly) who is unattractive. The sentance it derives from would have gone something like “oh yeah her body’s well fit, but her face…(pregnant pause)”, and that became the noun butterface, which was then shortened to the adjective butters. Delightful, huh?

Outside of the realm of sexual politics, there are still plenty of interpersonal judgements waiting to be handed out. London teens will happily call someone a wasteman if they think they’re a fool. If they’re being idiotically naive, they may also be dismissed as a freshie or a moisty, as recent spins on the classic old freshman or wetback. And if something or someone is great, they may even win the accolade of being called nang, or ream (possibly reem).

However, no matter how appealing these terms may be, you can’t use any of them, not a one. Not unless you wish to come across like this, only in real life:

A cautionary tale for us all there.

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 13 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Music.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

See more posts by Fraser McAlpine