Sunday, February 13, 2005

Township talk

So, to celebrate the fact that I may finally have figured out how to link to articles in The Times without all that fiddling about with the search box on the home page, here's a groovy little number from that respected bastion of once-broadsheet journalism. It's an interesting piece about Scamto, the street slang of black young people in South Africa's cities. It's been around a while but was fuelled in the 1990s by the language used by the townships' hip hop stars.

The reason it's now in the news is that a dictionary has just been produced, and its writer seems pleased to be able to help advertising executives and government agencies with this important tool to facilitate inter-generational, inter-racial communication. However, if you read the post the other week about the street slang of black young people in London (look for 'The youth of today' in the January archive), you will immediately be laughing at the foolishness of such a move, because this completely misses the point of the function of slang. Still, I love the use of "g-string" for a car in the BMW3 series, so if I start asking you if you fancy a ride in my g-string, please don't take it the wrong way!

Word on the street is...Scamto


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