rent3 (rnt) KEY
Short for parent
Our Living Language When young people talk about their rents, that is, their parents, they are using a slang term that is of interest to language historians, if not necessarily thrilling for parents themselves. The term is a prime example of one of the fundamental characteristics of slang, which continually creates novel ways of expressing what are often rather ordinary things (if parents may be considered ordinary things). Slang has recently produced two expressions for "parents" that have gained wide currencyrents and parental units. Both expressions demonstrate slang's use of unusual or creative linguistic means to achieve novelty of expression. While there are many slang terms, such as bod for body or rad for radical, that result from the clipping of unstressed syllables, rents is a clipping that drops a stressed syllable, much like the similar term za, "pizza." The desire to coin new ways of referring to things also leads speakers of slang to use circumlocutions like knuckle sandwich for "punch." Parental units falls into this category. It plays on the jargon of bureaucrats and social science, in which the world is viewed as so much data waiting to be quantified. The appearance of terms such as rents and parental units also shows that all available styles and levels of language can be grist for slang's millso long as the material is perceived as irreverent, funny, or just plain cool.