linguistics and lexicography

Something wicked this way comes …

Many of us recently celebrated Halloween. There were lots of pretend spiders, pumpkin lanterns and trick or treating and a lot of very specific lingo, like beast, sick, and wicked, used to describe the ghouls and monsters we had dressed as for the night. This got me thinking about how teenagers subvert the language as a form of rebellion and to create their own identity; how sick and wicked have a totally different meaning to them. Below are a few examples of teenage terms that have a reversed meaning.

evil, wicked, sick, bad, beast – all mean good
grimy – means funny
– means smart

There is also bewt, a mispelling of beaut, which used to mean the opposite of beautiful but has now reverted back to its original meaning of beautiful. Why the change back? Were too many old fogies using the term?

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Beth Penfold

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