BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

28 October 2014

BBC Homepage

Local BBC Sites

Neighbouring Sites

Related BBC Sites

Contact Us


You are in: Dorset > Voices > Skater talk

Henry Johnson

Henry Johnson

Skater talk

Skateboarding and other extreme sports have developed their own language - as part of the Voices series, we visted Henry Johnston who runs Weymouth's Skate Park for a lesson in the words and phrases you need to have a knarly time.

Henry Johnson is the manager at Weymouth's Skate park - everyday he hears and uses the words and phrases that are an integral part of skateboarding and other extreme sports:

"There are names for the the vast number of tricks - like the 'Fishbrain' - the guy who thought of it was nicknamed 'The Fish'.  It's important to know the language - you need to understand what's happening, identify the tricks and work out the technical aspects and understand what you're doing."

While each individual sport has it's own vocabulary to describe each discipline's tricks - there are many words shared by fans of all extreme sports.

Good or bad?

When it comes to words for 'good', things could get confusing - calling something 'sick' and 'knarly' is understood throughout extreme sports: "It is quite strange that words that should be used in a negative sense can be used to big something up.  If you take it literally, we do say some strange things to each other, but you do have to understand the lingo."

Over the years, the language from extreme sports like skateboarding have grown into  everyday language: "Skater language gets carried out into the street - extreme sports are more of a lifestyle than just a hobby."

Although an expression of youth, skater language can also be a barrier - "They are so  intertwined in the language of the lifestyle, that's all they use - so they find it hard to step outside of that language they have become accustomed to using - for instance at job interviews."

Because the extreme sports are rooted in America, much of the language used by British boarders would be completely understood by their counterparts in California.

And what about insulting people? "Because it's an expression of style and yourself - saying something like 'your style is a bit whack' - that's as much of an attack as it could be."

Future words

"Younger people in extreme sports are trying to gain own identity and make themselves fit into that group, as you get older you have to make less of a statement about yourself"

"I hear new words all the time - I heard 'skanked' for getting drunk the other day.    It's the language of youth - its always changing, youth culture will be different in 10 years and a new language will emerge."

last updated: 27/03/2008 at 15:54
created: 23/08/2005


You are in: Dorset > Voices > Skater talk

Voices - the way we speak around the UK

Take an online journey with the voices
Take an online journey with Voices

BBC Radio 4 explore the English Language
Explore language with

Video Nation
Videos from around the UK

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy