A college campus provides an atmosphere of open dialogue between friends and classmates from different race, ethnicity, and religion. Each individual carries with them unique terms, sayings, and references that may have been commonplace in their previous communities, but no longer bears significance in the college setting. This type of slang language is a part of people’s identity that acts as a social cue to identify them as different or unfamiliar. When meeting someone from a different community, region, or country, you may encounter similar situations to what I have seen or experienced. Their specific references or jokes that derived from close friend groups and communities gives them distinct characteristics that are only shared by those in that group.
As people make new friendships and establish new connections, their use of slang will often diminish as they find that it creates a communication barrier. There are many instances where people may have thought their terminology was universal and would be understood by members of the college community, however; this is often not the case. The accidental use of language that is thought to be understood by another person in a conversation leads to conversation defects that are either laughed of or ignored. In order to prevent this situation in further conversation, people will often avoid using the slang that was once part of their everyday language. Therefore, people are willing to give up part of their individuality to maintain social connections and interaction. They abandon their use of the slang terms that characterized their individuality to obtain a more comfortable position in social interactions. I have seen this happen with the term “gassed” that was meant by one person to mean excited, but not understood by any others. The term is no longer used by that person.
This does not mean that the use of slang ceases to exist. Students become part of a larger college community where they spend significant time with all of their friends and peers, sharing meals together on a daily basis and living in the same building. This new community of students creates their own slang and terminology that refers to the experiences they share as college students.
The newly obtained slang becomes normal is a seamless transition that often goes unnoticed. The interesting thing is that in abandoning old language patterns and obtaining new ones a person can be thought of as losing part of what previously defined them. The new definition of who they are is subtle but better fits their new social group. This is an interesting balance between personal and social identity. The alteration of personal language with social settings is a loss of identity and submission to conformity that often goes unnoticed.