Mastering the Finer Points of American Slang

By ALINA DIZIK  Gaurav Dhy studied English when growing up in India, but soon after moving to…

Georgia (May 30, 2012) — Gaurav Dhy studied English when growing up in India, but soon after moving to Boston five years ago, he realized he had a lot to learn about the way Americans talk. Some phrases that left him wondering included "I'm all set" and "I'm peachy."


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Most meetings "start with chitchat," says the 39-year-old co-founder of LearnFunGo, a discount software-learning website, who moved to Boston five years ago. "And you're like 'Hmm, I don't get it.' You're left out."

While learning American idioms has always been challenging, texting, email and social networks have generated a tidal wave of new slang and abbreviations in English. It is difficult enough to decode "OMG" (Oh my God) "BFF" (best friends forever) and "GTG" (got to go), let alone understand why it's funny to call something a "fail" (but not a "failure").  ……

At Kennesaw State University in Georgia, the Intensive English Program doesn't teach a slang expression until it is in use for more than one generation, says David Johnson, a professor of English and director of the program. "We teach things like 'home run', which has staying power," he says. 



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit