A few years ago I posted an interview with the great slangographer Jonathon Green; now here, via BBC News (thanks, Paul!), is a list of “slang words and expressions that encapsulate the age in which they were coined.” They include booze (goes back at least to 1532!), dis (goes back to 1906!), groovy (it “began life meaning conservative (‘stuck in a groove’)”), dosh (which “started life around 1850″ and probably comes from “doss, a sleep, bed or lodging house, itself rooted in Latin’s dorsus, the back, on which one rests”), and many others; here’s one that was new to me (unsurprisingly, as I am neither young nor a Londoner):
Nang, meaning first-rate, is an example of slang’s current cutting edge, Multi-ethnic London English (MLE). This mix of Jamaican patois, American hip-hop, Cockney classics and the coinages of youthful Londoners has added much to slang’s vocabulary. Nang, imported from the Caribbean where it means ostentation or style and rooted in Mende nyanga, showing off, is one of the better-known examples.
I love slang, and I love explication of it by people who know what they’re talking about.