Hi, gang! (used with friends)

Discussion in 'English Only' started by mewhow, Aug 18, 2015.

  1. mewhow Senior Member

    Hi folks,
    I think this is an American English and I'm not sure if The British people ever use it,
    but I often see people use "gang" when they refer to their mates, friends, fellow citizens etc.

    I took a look at Urban Dictionary and still they take the word "gang" seriously based on their real presence in their society and regard it as a problem. They suggest it does have a "criminal" tone to it. So it should mean more like a "bad friends/company"? I tend to avoid using it because it can mean, "hey, we are friends, we can do bad stuff to each other and that doesn't have to be mean.No one else cares." but I honestly won't invite other people to do such stuff and use friendship as an excuse. Other than using it like greeting,"hi gang," they use it like "me and my gang went out last night."

    So how should I interpret it when I see quite a few people using it? Any suggestions or help, please?
  2. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    I think the original sense of "gang" is a group of (probably tough manual) workers employed together. It does not necessarily connote criminality. When I was a primary school kid it tended to connote (in an approving way) a group of boys, friends willing to defend one another with schoolyard violence if necessary. See also this definition of gang show. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gang_Show
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2015
  3. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    English / England
    It seems to me that you have a good grasp of this in terms of its denotation of scarey gang culture in the US, which we do not have so much of in the UK.

    It certainly is possible to use gang in the UK as a collective noun for a group of mates, maybe even in the US too .. but as for your question about how to interpret it, you will really have to rely on the broader context. If they look like a sweet bunch from a show like Friends then they are using it as a collective noun for mates, and if they are part of a story about street life / drugs / guns etc they probably mean it to be something "harder".
  4. mewhow Senior Member

    Hello se16Teddy, Thank you for your response!
    Haa that's a great relief, I'm glad to know it does have a positive meaning. Actually the Japanese dictionary lists a meaning you've mentioned (a group of workers) but the meaning they gave at Urban Dictionary(in English) were rather negative and I was afraid people won't care too much about what they do for their beautiful relationship!
    Thank you again se16Teddy, you saved my day;)

    EDIT Yes I took a look at the link. Just like what you've said. Geez what's a complicated world. I am the one for the positive...!!
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2015
  5. mewhow Senior Member

    Suzi Br,
    Thank you for your response. Oh Ok I think that's maybe the case and that is the reason why I was afraid. I think the people who post the meaning on Urban Dictionary meant it. It's not like something happening in "somewhere else" but in real life. Oh well...I won't be using it then...!!I was just wondering why people won't care...
  6. mewhow Senior Member

    Oh Ok I've found an American version of a sweet gang

    Street Gang

    This shouldn't scare me neither should kids...I'll stay at this level for sure.
    Thank you guys for your help:)
  7. DonnyB

    DonnyB Sixties Mod

    Coventry, UK
    English UK Southern Standard English
    When I was growing up as a British boy, the "gang" simply meant the group of friends that you hung around with: apart from the odd bit of mischief there were no particularly pejorative connotations associated with it. I remember in those days the DJ on the radio would address his listeners as "Hi, gang!"

    But now, the word has become so entwined with the term "gang culture" with all its criminal associations that I doubt anyone in BE would use it nowadays as innocently as we used to do.

  8. mewhow Senior Member

    DonnyB, thank you for your response. Yes I also wanted to hear some people's personal use of it so all of your responses have been very helpful.

    Yes I'd like the use of the word to be joyful and playful like it should, but like Suzi Br has said, we all have to pay an attention to what we've got in our society today.
    I'd still dream of the good use of the term, "gang", but some people better wake up. Sad.
  9. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    In BE, a gang is also a neutral, informal, collective noun for a group of people:

    A notices a group of middle-aged people standing in a car park:

    A: "What are that gang of people doing?"
    B: "They are waiting for the tour bus to arrive."
  10. mewhow Senior Member

    Paul Q, Thank you for your response. That's just like what the Japanese English dictionary says as an example.
    It seems to me it's safer to use "gang" and be a "gang " at the same time in Britain, then:)
  11. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    Yes, saying " a gang of youths/bikers/children, etc" does not mean that the youths/bikers/children, etc are dangerous or doing anything bad. Nor does it mean that they are particularly 'organised' - they may just be a group of unrelated people who are there for one particular event.
  12. DonnyB

    DonnyB Sixties Mod

    Coventry, UK
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Maybe it's just me, but I would find it very hard nowadays to envisage, say, a newspaper article using the phrase "a gang of youths" with anything other than a negative slant to it. :(
  13. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    Always remember, years ago, to someone, you were once part of "a gang of youths". :D

    I can see your point: the same gang would be described as "a group of young volunteers" where the article had a positive slant - but colloquially, I don't make the distinction, except perhaps in a gang, the association may be looser than a group.

    Not too long ago, a relative died and the house needed clearing. A friend mentioned a certain charity and added, "They're very good. When my mother died, they sent a van and a gang of youths round."
  14. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    English - US (Midwest)
    And let's not forget Our Gang.
  15. Susan Y Senior Member

    British English
    ..... and Scouts around the world still do Gang Shows - see, for example: http://brisbanegangshow.com.au/2015-show-info/

    I would say the context makes it clear whether a gang is a criminal organisation (which here in Oz are usually called motorbike or bikie gangs) or simply a group of people.

    In answer to your original question, mewhow, my previous (British) boss used to start his group emails to our team with "Greetings, gang!".

    Edit: Sorry, I missed se16teddy's earlier reference to gang shows in post number 2.
  16. mewhow Senior Member

    Good, Thank you RM1(SS) and Susan Y.
    When I first saw people saying that to me, I was like, "When did I do things wrong by enjoying your company??"
    But yes, that's what I've figured, Paul Q, the word gang may mean a looser group, so that's one of the main reason why people prefer to use "gang" because there's not such a thing like a strong membership in it nor a bond. Just like, "happen to be together for whatever purpose".
    Whew, anyway, I may still want the Urban Dictionary’s definition to be positive.
    Thank you gang, anyway, as long as we live in a right context, we are fine. I said it.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2015
  17. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    English / England
    The bottom line is: the Urban Dictionary is not really a dictionary in the usual sense.
    It is written by anyone who wants to contribute! It relates very much to localised and informal usages. While these are interesting and can show us non-standard options of language it is not a complete picture of how any word is used.

    Incidentallly, I do not say this as a criticism. Some of the very earliest dictionaries started from the desire of outsiders to undertand the street language of different social groups.

    This link takes you to one example, if you can access this amazing section of the British Library and its guided study of dictionaries through time:
    1785 - Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue:

    I checked out "gang' in the OED, and there are several pages about it. The most well fitted for the way we see it used in the UK is this defintion, which chiems in with what you have been told in here:
    A group or band of people who go around together, or associate with one another regularly; a number of people joined together by a shared interest or common cause.Often with negative connotations, denoting a set of people regarded as disreputable or violent; in later use also (colloq.) denoting a group of (esp. young) friends who regularly do things together.


    The reason it may have negative connotations seem to stem from two places:
    Firstly, the earliest use of gang to mean a criminal group is recorded as dating from 1701, so it has a long history of that meaning.
    Secondly, to me, it looks like the prejudice that older people sometimes display to younger people, treating any group of youngsters with some suspicion!

  18. mewhow Senior Member

    Thank you Suzi Br, ohh yes "collecting rude words" haha. They might have collected at least one from me.
    I understand. I do think though, people in Urban Dictionary may not "trust" some knowledgeable people who have somehow never been the part of the society and always hide in the book called authority. It's like, we should respect each other. That's like why people may have a confusion over the definition of the word like gang in the first place. To some people it's nothing but reality so they want to define the word that way and that's fine.
    It's sad to see really, we see some negativity with it, but that's life. At the end of the day, it's all about how we feel towards each other and everyone is responsible for how we relate to each other. The word like "gang" is such a social word. In fact, every word is.
  19. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    English / England
    That is why I said I am not criticising the Urban Dictionary. just reminding you of its limits.

    Words that "street people" put their own spin on usually still have their original lives in their Standard English senses.

    I loved studying the history of dictionaries and one of the oldest examples explicitly stated in its cover page that it was desgined to reveal the secret cant of street people so that others could tell if there were plans for wickedness being discussed nearby! ;)

    It is this one, the Canting Academy from 1674:

    (by the way, do these links work for you in other countries?)
  20. mewhow Senior Member

    Thank you Suzi Br for clearing it up.
    That's some British humor. I've lived in Britain for a certain period of time so I know what you mean.
    I personally like both British humor and American Jokes. In fact, quite a few posts on Urban Dictionary's definitions are like half made of jokes,
    (as for gang, they explain the word like "Can be comparable to a Dark Side of the Mickey Mouse Club" and you know I laughed for real.)
    but you know, there are people who never understand those jokes, so...

    (Yes, all of the links work.)
  21. roxcyn

    roxcyn Senior Member

    American English [AmE]
    If you're talking about a group of pals/friends.

    Hi, gang = Hi, friends = Hi, guys.
  22. mewhow Senior Member

    Thank you roxcyn, for your response.

    Yes, I can see that's what it usually means, and what you meant probably matters more than how others define this social word.

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