Toronto Slang: More Than Just Words

A collage depicting a few of the many slang words that can be heard in Toronto such as “Ahlie”,”Dun Know”, “Heediot Ting”, “Shorty” and “Mandem”. Many of these words have strong ties to the Jamaican dialect of Patois.

Slang use has always been a form of communication in Toronto. It represents the interplay of numerous cultures and highlights the role diversity has to play in a city of more than 2.5 million people. With the emergence of media sites such as 6ixbuzz and the globalization of Drake and The Weeknd, Toronto slang has rapidly become popular in other regions. With this popularity, also comes negativity.

It’s one thing to grow up in a place where learning slang is part of life. But the words these communities develop should not be dismissed or framed to look like mainstream media has created these words. These words have been formulated from cultural entities in Jamaica, the Caribbean and the Middle East. The media should utilize its platforms to highlight an often misunderstood part of Toronto culture.

Creating a three-part podcast series, I spoke to the people who know about slang use in Toronto. I had conversations with people who use Toronto slang and know its adapted meanings, and people who know only of slang’s original meanings; an educator with experience trying to understand the younger generation and a rap artist who saw linguistic value from an early age. All of the people expressed their perspectives and wishes for slang.

My podcast series also covers the influence of music, with an emphasis on Jamaican culture’s strong basis for slang in Toronto. The series also covers how to respectfully and properly use slang without offending the communities that grew up on this form of dialect.

View Episode 1 Here

View Episode 2 Here

View Episode 3 Here