English is alive!
Well Graciela, first of all I'd like to congratulate you on your deciphering of the word 'Howzat?!' I like the mental image of you at a cricket match with a face 'like Mona Lisa'. To me cricket is an art form, so actually this is quite appropriate.
I feel for you, Graciela, when you say you are lost when you hear young Londoners speaking. But don't worry: you're not alone. Even as a native-speaker of English I find it impossible to follow what's called Multicultural London English, or MLE. What's MLE? It's defined in a recent BBC article as:
"A dialect identified among young people in the capital which blends the phonetics and vocabulary of such diverse influences as West Indian, south Asian and traditional cockney."
I used to think it was bad that I couldn't make head nor tail of my fellow Londoners' English. But now I've realised a simple fact - I'm not supposed to understand it. That's the point. Speaking using this special dialect gives them a sense of group identity. And because I'm too old in their eyes, I'm not part of the club.
Language is a living thing, not a museum piece. Shakespeare is said to have added over 2000 words to the English language. Do we criticise him for not sticking to the rules? Of course not; we celebrate his creativity. Therefore, I am proud of the inventors and speakers of MLE.
So here is a challenge for Graciela and other followers of this blog. Here are some words in MLE. Can you match the word on the left (a-e) with the correct definition on the right (1-5)? I'll let you know the answer next time. Good luck!
a) blud - 1) trainers (sports shoes)
b) chops - 2) friend
c) creps - 3) boring
d) long - 4) often
e) regs - 5) jewellery
deciphering - trying to understand something which is confusing
mental image - a picture in your head
feel for you - have sympathy for you
phonetics - the study of the sounds of language
couldn't make head nor tail - couldn't understand at all
a museum piece - something very old