Are You Down Wid It? - Keywording for the Slang Generation

Colloquialisms , street language, call it what you will, slang presents a challenge for keyworders.

I was having lunch the other day with a friend involved in IT and we got to talking about keywords and he mentioned that a number of the 20-something staff members he employed were searching the web using text language, or should that be "txt lgng". He said that it was amazing how much came up when it was used.

Perhaps I was looking on the wrong sites, but when I tried it I didn't have that much luck. Regardless, my friend did raise an important issue. How do keyworders address the needs of people who like to search using non-standard English?

In our own vocabularies we already have a certain amount of slang -"nasty" for instance to mean sneering or even sexy.

English is a language on the move as I was once told, and anyone who doubts this should borrow our English-American dictionary to see how far it's moved already. In the United States "Fall" means "Autumn", "kitchen counter" means "kitchen bench", a pram is a baby buggy and on it goes.

The thing about slang is that it crops up everywhere and has different meanings in different places. "Pot plant" in some places means a marijuana plant, in others it's a harmless indoor ornamental plant such as a begonia. An Australian keeps his beer cold at a cricket match in an eski, a New Zealander in a chilly bin. Americans where flip-flops, others prefer to call them thongs, in New Zealand they're jandals.

I don't have any scientific evidence, but my bet is that the amount of slang being added to the language is accelerating due to the internet and the growth of other mass media.