Yes/No: Should we allow slang in academic writing?

Yes – Leon Morris

This is hilarious. We heard the other day that an academy school in London has banned their students from using slang to improve standards of English – words like “innit” and “bare” are a few that have been deemed inappropriate in an academic setting.

I fully understand why a number of people may be a little put off by the fact that young people are speaking in weird and wonderful ways, but isn’t that the beauty of language? Slang is just the natural progression of a language’s development. Think about it – our “Queen’s” English may be repulsive to that of a Hanoverian King, or whatever.

I do think that there could be an issue with job interviews or in a professional environment, but think about the purpose of language. Indeed, we do have correct and incorrect ways of spelling things – but isn’t that just a social construct? Shouldn’t language be used simply to express yourself?

Actually, I think it’s perhaps a fear of the unknown. You hear people say “speak properly darling, you don’t want to appear to be a scruff” or whatever they say, but let’s think about this. What are they actually saying? Like, really saying?

Personally, I come from a bit of a background where slang is so normal for me. I dip in and out of that whenever I’m around people I grew up with. I love slang, I speak with slang. It doesn’t bother me, and I find it quite comforting to tell you the truth. In fact, I don’t see a problem with it at all. I am no saint, however, and I have discouraged people from speaking in a typical “York” slangy way. You know, words such as “YOLO”, “Yorkward”, “hip”, etc. I wondered for a while why I felt uncomfortable with these words and I came to the conclusion that perhaps it’s the class war.

No, no – I’m not going to talk about THAT, I really don’t have enough of a word count. I’ll be here all day talking about the repression of the working class. But I wonder if that’s why people feel so uncomfortable with slang in academia – the fear that speaking in a “slangy” way may entrench a “new” language that is out of touch with those who have left academia, and will eventually be left behind.

No – Beth Forrest

Slang or non-standard English certainly has its advocates – after all, Shakespeare used slang and George Eliot described Standard English as the language of “those who study history and prigs”.
I don’t say that slang has no place within the world of English; but rather that it doesn’t have a place within the academic classroom.

The fact is that there are thousands of words in English and not all of them mean the exact same thing, though we may use one as a synonym for another, it will still retain subtle difference in its meaning or urgency.

As such, we need thousands of accepted words in order to adequately capture the human experience.

If we only use slang words, of which there are fewer, experiences can begin to sound uniform and within an academic setting, do not allow us the same kind of scope in order to describe and evaluate.

Equally, if we acquire more academic, longer or different words, we can often find they can better encapsulate something in less time which saves us on word counts!

If we stick to the same words we always use, rather than acquiring new and challenging expressions, we’re not really challenging ourselves to learn anything.

It’s akin to learning new languages in secondary school, few can deny the first time they managed to express a sentence was a little bit of a triumph even if they’ve not since been interested in that language at all.

Equally, that chunk of money we are paying is to have something to show employers that we are smart, erudite and capable.

If we are unwilling to dispense with slang, we can’t show that we are willing to communicate and that we respect someone enough to deal with them on their own level, to talk to business clients articulately about their wants, to go further into academia and acquire new knowledge or that we are learned enough to problem solve within our field to clients.

Allow that, bruv, we is paying for education to like get us jobs and that, you get me?