So I had the idea of recording some of the content here on CultSurf so that you could listen to it. If you’re learning English, you will now be able to listen to the stories and some of the content, and practice your listening skills as well! I will provide a link to the original story here so you can go back and read it in case you get lost. Thanks for listening, and remember to comment below. How did I do?
Words like savage and beast have been flying around on the internet and in music for a while now. Today, we’ll “test” our English by looking at those as well as some phrases that use test and try in the slang sense. We’ll also look at some dialogues with Charles to see how they can be used. Starting off!
Try normally means “to attempt” to do something. For example, maybe you tried to learn how to play the piano like Mozart but never quite reached that level. In slang, try pretty much has the same sense as “to attempt,” with a small difference. If I say, “Try me,” it means to attempt to explain something to me. We can also say “try” to mean to attempt to do something bad or is a kind of bad behavior. Mom’s can tell their children, “Don’t try it,” which means the same as “Don’t do it.” “Don’t try me” then is like telling someone not to attempt something bad against you. Here’s an example:
Charles —Hey, look at those two kids. They’ve been staring each other down for a few minutes now.
Sheila —They do look pretty angry. I wonder what their issue is.
The two teens suddenly start to argue with one another.
Teen 1 —What? You’re trying to come at me, huh? I’m not scared of you.
Teen 2 —Oh, you think you’re tough. I bet you won’t try to hit me, though. You’ve been trying me ever since I got here.
- Teen 1 has been attempting to scare Teen 2 or be mean to him ever since he arrived.
Teen 1 —Ha! You’re the one who wanted to fight me. I see your fists are balled up. Don’t try it.
- Don’t attempt anything bad or stupid (against me).
Now, test you may know as an exam you sit and take to prove your knowledge. To “test” as a verb usually means to examine something or try a new experience. You can “test” a new flavor of ice cream, so it’s very similar to the word try. It’s the same way in slang, since “test” or “don’t test” can be used in the same way we saw “try” above. Another common phrase is to “test someone’s nerves.” This means to annoy someone, like you’re testing how much their brain can handle. I’ll save “nerves” for another day.
Teen 2 —Look, don’t test me, bro. Today’s not a good day.
- Don’t try to do anything bad or annoy me anymore.
Charles —Sheila, what are they fighting about, anyway?
Sheila — I don’t know. These kids are weird to me.
Charles —They must be mad for some reason. I mean, I doubt they just started an Old West showdown in the middle of the street for nothing.
Sheila —Well, all I know is that the one guy bumped into the other. He said, “Yo, I’m tired of you. You’ve been testing it all semester. Now I’m gonna beat you down.” Pretty much.
- You’ve been pushing the limits, picking on me, being mean to me, all semester.
Charles —Wow. This is wild.
You tried it
Again, the same concept as before. This phrase applies after some bad, mean or undesirable action has already taken place. It’s usually used to discourage any more of those actions from happening.
Charles —Look! I think they’re really gonna fight.
Teen 2 throws a punch at Teen 1’s head and misses.
Teen 1 —Woah, you tried it, huh? You don’t even know how to throw a punch.
- You attempted something bad or foolish against me.
Teen 2 —I was just warming up. Wait...
Teen 2 throws another surprise punch and lands it. He hits Teen 1 in the face and makes him fall down. Everyone standing around them starts to talk and scream.
Savage – Beast
These are two very common slang terms these days, and for good reason. A savage and a beast normally are creatures that live in the wild. They act like monsters or ferocious animals and have no conscience or remorse. The same goes for the slang meaning. Calling someone a “savage” or “beast” is like saying they are really good at something, like they are the best at something. They dominate, they kill (which is another slang that means doing really well at something), and they do other things that we associate with savages and wild beasts. Of course, we mean it in a positive way, like we’re complimenting the other person.
Lots of people, especially in music and sports, consider themselves savages or beasts, just like Megan Thee Stallion. A similar term used is “monster,” which is also a positive compliment. Think of Kanye West (listen to Monster here). “Savage” can also mean doing things without caring about the consequences. Instead of being negative, it is almost used in admiration, like the other person is cool for being this way.
Sheila —Dang! Did you see that hit? Man, these kids are savage nowadays.
- These kids are reckless, don’t care about consequences, but are kind of cool because of it.
Charles —Yeah, I know.
Teen 2 —That’s right! I’m a savage, you heard?
- I’m the best. I’m reckless. I don’t care. But I’m really cool.
As everyone around yells and laughs, Teen 1 gets up and reaches out his hand.
Teen 1 —Yo. I got respect, bro. That was a good hit you got me with.
Teen 2 —Thanks.
Teen 1 —You know, I do MMA down at the gym. You would be a beast in the octagon if you wanted to fight with us.
- You would be great, one of the best, a fearsome fighter.
Teen 2 —Sounds like a plan. I’ve always wanted to try out MMA fighting. Hey, are we cool?
Teen 1 —We cool.
Sheila —Aww. How cute! They made up.
Like with many slang words, savage and beast can be perceived as positive or negative, compliment or insult, depending on how they are used and depending on the speaker’s tone. Generally, these days they are used as compliments and are a way to show admiration for a person or for yourself, but there are always exceptions. Try and test are used usually in more intimate settings and you might say it with a friend, a family member, or another person that is trying to be mean or act badly in some way. Try/test it are acting badly in general situations, while try/test me is acting against you (or whoever is speaking). These terms can be a little tricky, so try to pay attention to cues from others and see how they use them. Otherwise, even if you don’t want to use them (I don’t use these terms too often) you will at least be able to understand when other English speakers say them. Someone definitely will.
Hey everyone! Could you use these terms in your own sentences? In what other situations could you imagine someone saying these? Have you heard these terms in English-language songs? Let me know in the comments! If you have suggestions for words or phrases that you would like explained, tell me here or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks and take care!
Today’s terms: hit / slam / bang / rock / hit me up / give a ring, buzz / shoot a message
No, I’m trying to get you to meet my buddy. He’s a producer.
Jonah was trying enthusiastically to calm Charles down on their way to the music studio.
—Come on, man. You know I don’t like to be around these kinds of people. I get nervous.
Jonah reassured him; —Yeah, Mike is a real scary kind of guy. A real gangster off the streets! Come on, bro. There’s nothing to worry about. I’ll hold your hand.
Charles tapped Jonah’s hand away as he reached for it.
—Nobody likes sarcasm, bro, Charles protested.
Eventually, they drove up to the studio parking lot. There were a group of teenagers smoking in the front, maybe add the smell of spilled liquor on the floor. Everyone looked calm but suspicious. Although, when they saw it is Jonah, they all smiled and signaled “hello” to him.
—What’s up everybody! Are y’all rocking today?
Everyone nodded, made mumble sounds, and they turned back to their joints. Charles gave them a shy nod. Then the two friends strolled inside.
Once inside the studio, there were strong musical beats coming from all over the place. Smooth instrumentals blended with fast rhythms. The noise was chaotic but artful, all the same. Jonah saw one of his colleagues coming towards them.
—Yo, my brotha! What’s happening with ya? Y’all just got all the beats banging today.
—Well, you know how I rock, Jonah. Who’s your friend?
Charles felt a quick pain in his belly.
—Oh, my name’s Charles. What’s up?
The man reached out his hand and gave Charles a mixed handshake and hug in a friendly manner.
—Classic Mike. Gotta show them love. This is my buddy, Charles. He comes from another country, but he knows a lot of English.
—He seems like he can handle his business, isn’t that right, Charles!
They all laughed for a few seconds. Charles then spoke up.
—Yeah, I get by pretty well out here. I just didn’t understand when you said “banging” and “rock.” I didn’t really get it.
—No prob, man. Banging is what I say when something is really good, especially when it comes to music. I can say, “This song bangs.” It’s the same with Hit or Slam for something that’s really good, like a piece of music, some good food, or even a cute girl, for example. All my music slams and hits.
Charles was reminded.
—Oh, right. You are the producer!
—Correct-o! But that’s different from banging, like to be a part of a gang. I don’t bang. But, those kids outside, I don’t know. All of them look like they bang. Now, Rock is basically the same thing. If something rocks, that means it’s really good, amazing. And what’s cool is you can rock something, like a song, a test, or a sport. It all means that you do really good in it.
—Yeah, my buddy Mike here rocks as a producer, by the way, Jonah added in.
As they talked, a young lady appeared from one of the recording booths and made her way towards the exit.
She turned around. Yep, it was the same Sheila that Charles had been out with.
—Charles! Woah, I didn’t know you were into music.
Charles puffed up his chest.
—Oh, yeah. I’m really into music. Recording, he coughs, Really into recording. What do you do here?
—I’m a singer, remember? I thought I told you when we were texting a few days back.
Charles scratched his head.
—Anyway, I gotta go. Nice seeing you here! Exciting, am I right? Hit me up tonight, okay?
In a hurry, Sheila left from the studio and into her busy life. Charles looked confused.
—Why did she want me to hit her up? Is that, like, sexual?
Jonah and Mike stormed with laughter.
Jonah then explained.
—Hit me up, man! It means the same as “send me a message,” or “give me a call.” It’s not sexual at all. Well, I guess not.
Mike added, —Yeah, it’s the same as saying give me a ring, shoot me a message, or give me a buzz. It all means “call me” or “message me.”
—Oh, I guess that makes sense.
—Charlie’s got a girlfriend!
All three of them laughed and pushed each other around playfully. Oh, guys.
—So, are you gonna hit her up tonight? Jonah asked Charles.
—You know I will!
Despite his outward confidence, Charles still felt pretty nervous. Not to mention guilty, having forgotten so quickly that Sheila was a singer. He dug for a little more information.
—So, Mike. Sheila records her songs here?
—Yeah. Just a few samples for SoundCloud. Why?
—Is she any good?
—For sure, bro! Sheila slams in the recording booth!
Saying that something slams, hits, or bangs is saying it’s really good to the senses (That food looks slamming! That rhythm hits hard! This song is banging!) These are more colloquial slang, so not all communities across the country use them. Otherwise, “hit me up,” “give me a buzz/ring,” and “shoot me a message” are all pretty common nationwide to tell someone to send you a message or to call, though these terms are very informal. Using “bang” to talk about being in a gang can be a problematic word, so I underlined it. It’s best not to use it unless you really know what you’re saying, and most people don’t even have to use it. Do you know why the other terms are underlined? Can you use today’s terms in your own sentences? Share with me down below!
*The language used in this dialogue is meant to reflect how different Americans might express themselves. Significant incorrect grammar or sensitive words will be underlined for reference. Did you recognize the mistakes in this story?