Slang is a conventional language used on purpose by speakers of a social category or a socio-professional group so as not to be understood by others. This language is commonly used by pupils, students, the army, inmates, thieves etc. Here are some examples: teach (form master), leaf (biology teacher), loaf (head), that sucks (unpleasant, repellant), turkey (policeman), slammer/faculty (prison), alpinist (burglar or thief climbing through house windows), Snow White (cocaine) etc.
As far as the translator is concerned, this kind of language can be difficult to render as the shades of meaning of these words or expressions must be changed or replaced in order to maintain the meaning in the target language. The English equivalent for the Romanian term turkey (policeman) would be pig and for faculty (prison) the right term would be slammer.
A worldwide phenomenon encountered especially among youths is the chat language, a modern sub-category of slang. It involves abbreviations, emoticons or acronyms used in online conversations between young people. They replace sentences or phrases that are too long in their opinion, instant messages with immediate effect being preferred. Punctuation and spelling are almost absent when it comes to chat language; thus, for a novice in chat language, things like lol or ttyl, k, gn may seem nonsensical. As a form of slang, they are meant to encode a message that, apparently, they don’t want to be made public.
Another role of chat language is to set the respective social group apart from the rest of the speakers. The need for privacy or rebellion against the rules of society may be some of the reasons why this type of slang language is used. When a translator must translate this sort of text, he/she must be aware of chat language and all of its linguistic tricks. Most people using chat are somewhat aware of the application functions and these abbreviations. For example, in order to translate a conversation between two young people chatting, the translator must replace the abbreviations with their equivalent in the target language and the emoticons with sentences describing the speakers’ mood and feelings.
Thus, slang language is a domain that a good translator must master.