George Floyd marches: Five slang words, terms that protesters want you to know
For most people, it's the number of months in a year, the time when the clock strikes noon or midnight or how many steps that an Alcoholics Anonymous member must complete.
To demonstrators marching to honor George Floyd, the man slain by police in Minneapolis, "12" has a whole different meaning.
It's just one of a handful of slang words, terms and acronyms that are emerging into the mainstream after a week of that saw thousands turn out to march and demonstrate in cities across the nation.
Some don't require much explanation. The acronym BLM is clearly Black Lives Matter, the social-action group that has sponsored some of the protests. The slogan "Defund the Police" is the demonstrators' demand that police influence be reduced by draining departments of funds, resulting in action by the mayor of at least one major city, Los Angeles.
Others terms aren't as easy to decypher:
•12. It means law enforcement or the police, and is also often proceeded by the f-word on signs. "There are many explanations of why 12 (equals) police, many based on Atlanta police code "10-12," meaning that there are people congregated where police (12) are going," said Tom Dalzell, author of "Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang" and several books on slang, (There was also a popular police TV drama in the late 1960s and early 1970s, "Adam-12.")
•8cantwait. Often with a hashtag added to the front, it refers to eight police reforms that protesters believe could greatly reducing police brutality, said Dalzell.
•ACAB. According to the Urban Dictionary, the acronym translates to All Cops are Bastards.
Those who follow changes in language are taking notice of how some of these terms become popularized.
In the past, slang usually found its way from being spoken on the street to the written word. Now many terms or words, like "#8cantwait," sprout online from social media, Dalzell said.
"I don’t think anyone is sitting around saying, '8cantwait,'" he said.
More:One week of protests
Slang plays a key role in events like street demonstrations, where participants are anxious to find out what a term means and those in-the-know are eager to tell them, "establishing the camaraderie and fraternity of a social group is a higher function than hiding the meaning," he said.
"If you're at a demonstration and someone says '8cantwait,' you’re going to have to say, 'What does that mean?'" Dalzell added.
What's unclear whether the new words, acronyms and terms will have short shelf lives or become ingrained in the vocabulary.
Derogatory references to police, such as "the fuzz" or "the pigs," went the way of bell-bottom pants and vinyl records.
"Cops" is still with us. But "12?" Only time will tell.