Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published a piece on how foreigners are learning American slang to fit in better with their American co-workers. The piece was business-y and all Wall Street Journal-y until the end, where the WSJ published a cute little guide of their own.
The list is a thinly veiled Bro-Bible, featuring words like, "dude," "chilling," psyched," "man up," "hooking up," and "wassup" (also helpfully listed as "sup"). Foreigners: these are sure to be a hit at your next client meeting at Morgan Stanley, the next time you get into an in-depth discussion about Dude, Where's My Car?, or the inevitable combination: a client meeting at Morgan Stanley that turns into an in-depth discussion about Dude, Where's My Car?.
In the article, John Hayden, the owner of a website called English, Baby!, describes how the use of slang can be risky, which is code for "really uncool:" "Big deal-To native speakers, this phrase may not even sound like slang, but Mr. Hayden calls it ‘gateway slang': ‘You can learn it and use it easily without much risk of misuse.'"However, even Americans have trouble with some of the "riskier" words on this list, like "literally," which, "can mean truthfully or without exaggeration, English students learn it can be used to exaggerate."
By far the best term on the list, though, is, "freak out, freak," which apparently means, "You can freak, freak someone out or have a freak-out, but you can't have a freak. ‘The flexibility of this term makes it hard to know where its limits are.'"
I'm looking out for the next WSJ guide, which will hopefully teach older business executives outdated internet slang like "gtfo," "swf," and "a/s/l."