In this activity, students will be introduced to linguistics by examining the definitions and origins of various hip hop slang. They will discuss how and why these words originated to define concepts not previously conveyed in the English language. Students should analyze the aspects of hip hop culture that made these words necessary. This analysis will help them understand that language is a direct result of culture. They will then use this understanding to study a non-English word and culture of their choice. The word they choose should not be directly translatable in English. Through a brief in-class presentation, students will define their chosen word, discuss its origin (or etymology), and analyze the aspects of its cultural context that required it to exist.
Introduce your students to the term "etymology." Etymology is the study of the history and origin of words and how their meanings have changed over time. Then, provide students with examples of hip hop slang below and conduct a brief discussion about the specific aspects, definitions, and origins of each. Use the talking points below to guide the discussion (simply click on the hip hop slang to visit urbandictionary.com and find the word's definition).