When slang migrates from TikTok to the mainstream

April 12, 2024 by Alison Tunley

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“This is why you need to go on TikTok mum, you are missing out on quality content for your blog”. That was the advice of my middle daughter after she had patiently translated her reference to “the cozzie livs guy”, which had left me baffled. Now that cozzie livs has achieved the coveted status of Word of the Year (according to Macquarie Dictionary), the TikTokers will presumably have moved on to more novel linguistic innovations. But if you’ve somehow missed out on this phrase’s rapid rise to fame, I can explain that cozzie livs refers to the cost of living crisis, and the cozzie livs guy is apparently “some dude” on social media who offers advice on navigating the aforementioned fiscal challenges.

Having previously written about the Australian penchant for slang, and with its WOTY nomination from Australia’s leading dictionary publisher, I naturally assumed that cozzie livs was a classic Australian coinage. But apparently not. Macquarie report that the word first emerged in the UK before being eagerly adopted in the Antipodes. Cozzie livs thus joins a long list of proud UK slang exports now used by Australians, including snog, wally and sprog (if ChatGPT and a quick Google are to be believed!).

There’s a rather pleasing balance in the way monosyllabic cost becomes cozzie while the bisyllabic living becomes livs. And the Macquarie WOTY Committee note a similar pattern to the Aussie colloquialisms menty b (mental breakdown) and locky d (Covid lockdown). And the UK is not too shabby in deploying much the same formula to neologisms such as Platty Joobs (for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022) and Corrie Nash (for the King’s Coronation in 2023).

In fact the Coronation provided rich pickings for fans of colloquialisms with Chazzle Dazzle and Corriebobs being among my favourites. The addition of the suffix ‘-bobs’ also intrigued me as this is a mechanism my own TikTok-viewing daughter applies to all sorts of items. For example, nutrishy bobs refers to stuff relating to nutrition. Despite concerted searching, I’m yet to find any references to the emergence of ‘-bobs’ as a productive new suffix. Although the term holibobs was voted the second most annoying word in a 2023 poll (pipped at the post by amazeballs, in case you were wondering).

So, if -bobs becomes the new go-to suffix for neologisms in 2024, you heard it here first! Meanwhile, I’m off to do some sociolinguistic research, or what might more accurately be described as scrolling through Tiktok.


Image: Pixabay

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