The use of slang in court proceedings can be tricky, especially in criminal cases where an uncommon slang term used by a witness can make a difference in a case. New York Times tech reporter Leslie Kaufman and law professor Greg Lastowka talk about how judges and lawyers have turned to sites like Urban Dictionary to help define slang terms and the legal implications of the trend.
NEAL CONAN: Yeah, it’s a crowd sourced dictionary, obviously. But crowd sourced, doesn’t that cause problems?
GREG LASTOWKA (Professor of law at Rutgers University): Not really. I mean, it’s a question of fact what a particular meant in a particular context. And I think that Urban Dictionary is a pretty reliable way to find out what people think a particular word means. And there are some concerns about it, but it seems like it’s a pretty solid source of evidence.
Robert Smalls Intermediate/Middle School officials met with some parents this month after a fifth-grader raised a question during class about a sex act.Principal Denise Smith met with about 10 parents May 10 after a student in teacher Lisa Sutton’s Advanced English Language Arts class asked her about “teabagging.” The act may be performed as a practical joke on someone who is asleep, according to Urban Dictionary.
Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has apologized to the Italian-American One Voice Coalition for using a term offensive to Italian Americans during an interview conducted at the North American International Auto Show last January in Detroit.
The crowd-sourced dictionary of “urban”* language, that font to which we all repair when seeking the definitive definition of “badonkadonk,”** the Urban Dictionary, has been sworn in in a court of law.