Slang plays a large part in our daily lives. Keeping up with slang expressions can be a near impossible task. However, thanks to the Urban Dictionary website, that task is an easier one.
Urban Dictionary, started in 1999, is a “crowdsourced” collection of slang. Readers can submit slang words and definitions, and other readers can “vote” on whether to accept the definition or not. The site currently has 2.3 million definitions posted, and 30,000 new definitions are proposed every month. The format allows for a constantly evolving, always current compendium of slang English language, or as I call it, Slanglish.
As reported recently by Leslie Kaufman in the New York Times, Urban Dictionary has found its way into the courts, with several US courts turning to Urban Dictionary to define terms.
In Canada, three decisions on CanLII have referenced Urban Dictionary. In R. v. Ali, 2011, BCSC 1850, Urban Dictionary was used to confirm that “strapped” meant to carry a gun, and the evidence of a detective on this point was accepted as expert evidence. In R. v. Davies, 2012 ONSC 3631, the court refers to definitions from Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary that were entered as evidence. Counsel objected to the authenticity of the definitions, and the court held that the definitions were not necessary to support the charges. In WCAT-2010-00981 (Re), 2010 CanLII 41721 (BC WCAT), the tribunal footnoted a definition from Urban Dictionary to explain a doctor’s note that the worker’s cough was “supratentorial”. Supratentorial is a word used by doctors and nursed to imply that the patient’s problems were all in their mind. The tentorium is a membrane just under the brain, so “supratentorial” refers to what is above that, being the brain.
So to all of you out there planning to “jack” an estate, be careful. Urban Dictionary, and the courts, are on to you.
Have a great weekend.