Monday, 21 September 2009

Pimp your vocab, chaps

New from Anova Books, publishers of the smash-hit non-fiction blockbuster Whatever Happened to Tanganyika?, comes Pimp Your Vocab by Lucy Tobin, a “terrifying dictionary for adults”. It’s a sort phrasebook of the yoof slang of today. Er, cool beans and all that sort of thing. The Guardian offers some sample items and even a test-yourself quiz.

These things are always good for debunking any self-deluding idea that you might sort of vaguely understand young people’s, er, jive talk, even if you don’t actually speak it yourself. It is, as promised, a little scary.

Strangely, one of the items quoted by the Guardian is snap, an old old dialect word meaning a snack or packed lunch. It’s tempting to think it must be the same word as snack, though apparently much older; from OED: 3. A small piece or portion; a scrap, fragment, or morsel. 4. A slight or hasty meal or mouthful; a snack. Now dial. or spec. Also in Comb., as snap-time, -tin. [...] 1935 A. J. CRONIN Stars look Down I. ix. 67 ‘Come on, ye old beggor, and have yer snap,’ Tom called out with his mouth full of bread and cheese.

Is da yoot really sayin dis bro? (Gosh, I’m good at this. Innit, tho? Or should that be “is it tho”? Oh dear.) Coincidence, shome mishtake, or has an old local word somehow been generalised and revived?

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