The Millennials’ Language

Author: Valencia Wagner (SADiLaR Setswana Researcher)Original Post

Language is not fixed, it is continuously changing and adapting to reflect the needs of its users. Today’s youth do not speak the same language as their parents. They develop their own unique slang and use it to communicate amongst themselves. Generation by generation, the vocabulary changes, pronunciation evolves and new terms are coined.

Within the past year a new language trend has emerged. South African male teenagers originating from the suburban areas came up with this very informal variety of language. They started using specific terms that are rather unusual and a bit confusing to the older generation. According to Pedersen (2007:3), new slang is invented to replace old slang aiding the youth of today to be able to be shocking or amusing people by speaking a certain way.

This trend was started by the so called “skrr skrr” generation. This is mostly the youth that was born after the year 2000. Their way of speaking is mostly influenced by Trap music and a lot of terms they use resonate from the American Trap rappers such as Travis Scott and Migos. They use these terms to affirm in-group relations and as a form of relevance amongst their peers, just as Tsotsi Taal, Flaaitaal, Iscamtho or Ringas was a way of communication back in the 1980’s.

This type of slang language originates from a phrase called an ad-lib, which loosely translated, means a piece of music or speech that is said without being planned or written beforehand. This culture is constantly evolving as new words and phrases keep popping up every now and then.

Do you think this slang language will stick around for some time or will it fizzle out as the current generation which is using it now gets older and revert to proper language use?

Below are some of the popular terms from the “Skrr skrr” slang, most of which I read on social media and a few from speaking to the speakers of this slang language:

Original Term Coined Term
Family Housemates
Parents Birth crew / The hun & her gent
Step mom The extra hun
Old people Boomers
Friends Gang-gang / Squad
God Sky daddy
Ancestors Underground gang
Sangomas / Prophets Wi-Fi gang
Clan names Family bars
Impepho (Incense) Poverty weed
Ntsu (Snuff) Traditional cocaine / Black cocaine
Umqombothi (Traditional beer) African lean
Wine The bible juice / The Jesus juice
The plug Someone that supplies something e.g. alcohol
Witches Flying squad
Patriarchy The yarchy
Lobola Cow talk / Cow chats / Purchase fee
Nyaope smokers The zombie crew
Samp Cultural dots
Wheelbarrow Drop top
HIV Aids Sicko mode
Tikoloshe (Zombie) The boy doing the things
Goat Eminem / Messi
Amapiano (Music genre) The yanos
Apartheid The theid
Ghetto Ratatata
Outfit Drip
Jewelry Ice
To lose Take an “L”
SASSA (Social grant money) Young money / YMCMB
LGBTIQ+ community Alphabet gang
Follow a trend Ride the wave
Sex Tlof-tlof

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