Slang is the use of informal words and expressions that are not considered standard in the speaker's language or dialect but are considered acceptable in certain social settings. Slang expressions may act as euphemisms and may be used as a means of identifying with one's peers.
Few linguists have endeavored to clearly define what constitutes slang. Attempting to remedy this, Bethany K. Dumas and Jonathan Lighter argue that an expression should be considered "true slang" if it meets at least two of the following criteria:
- It lowers, if temporarily, "the dignity of formal or serious speech or writing"; in other words, it is likely to be considered in those contexts a "glaring misuse of register."
- Its use implies that the user is familiar with whatever is referred to, or with a group of people who are familiar with it and use the term.
- "It's a taboo term in ordinary discourse with people of a higher social status or greater responsibility. "
- It replaces "a well-known conventional synonym". This is done primarily to avoid discomfort caused by conventional phrases or by further elaboration.
Slang is different from jargon, which is the technical vocabulary of a particular profession, and which meets only the second of the criteria given above. Jargon, like many examples of slang, may be used to exclude non – group members from the conversation, but in general has the function of allowing its users to talk precisely about technical issues in any given field.
Extent and origins of slang
Slang can be regional (that is, used only in a particular territory), but slang terms are often particular instead to a certain subculture, such as music or video gaming. Nevertheless, slang expressions can spread outside their original areas to become commonly used, like cool and jive. Some words eventually lose their status as slang. The word mob, for example, began as a shortening of Latin mobile vulgus. When slang spreads beyond the group or subculture that originally used it, its original users sometimes replace it with other, less recognized terms to maintain group identity.
One use of slang is to circumvent social taboos, as mainstream language tends to shy away from evoking certain realities. For this reason, slang vocabularies are particularly rich in certain domains, such as violence, crime, drugs, and sex. Alternatively, slang can grow out of mere familiarity with the things described. Among wine drinkers, for example, Cabernet Sauvignon is often known as "Cab Sav," Chardonnay as "Chard" and so on; this means that naming the different wines expends less superfluous effort; it also helps to indicate the user's familiarity with wine. Slang often involves the creation of new meanings for existing words. It is common for such novel meanings to diverge significantly from the standard meaning. Thus, "cool" and "hot" can both mean "very good," "impressive," or "good-looking".
Slang terms are often known only within a clique or ingroup. For example, Leet ("Leetspeak" or "1337") was originally popular only among certain Internet subcultures, such as crackers and online video gamers. During the 1990s, and into the early 21st century, however, Leet became increasingly more commonplace on the Internet, and it has spread outside Internet-based communication and into spoken languages. Other types of slang include SMS language used on mobile phones, and "chatspeak," (e.g., "LOL", an acronym meaning "laughing out loud" or "laugh out loud" or ROFL, "rolling on the floor laughing"), which used to be widely used in instant messaging on the Internet in the early 2000s.
The origin of the word slang is uncertain. It has a connection with Thieves' cant, and the earliest attested use (1756) refers to the vocabulary of "low or disreputable" people. Beyond that, however, its origin is unclear. A Scandinavian origin has been proposed (compare, for example, Norwegian slengenavn, which means "nickname"), but is discounted by the Oxford English Dictionary based on "date and early associations".
- A New Dictionary of the Terms Ancient and Modern of the Canting Crew
- Diner lingo
- Slang dictionary
- Urban Dictionary
- G. Vernon Bennett, Pomona, California, school superintendent, orders "anti-slang week," 1915
- Dumas, Bethany K.; Lighter, Jonathan (1978). "Is Slang a Word for Linguists?". American Speech 53 (5): 14–15. doi:10.2307/455336.
- "Online Etymological Dictionary". Etymonline.com. Retrieved 2013-02-23.
- Croft, William (2000) Explaining Language Change: An Evolutionary Approach. Harlow: Longman: 75-6.
- Mitchell, Anthony (December 6, 2005). "A Leet Primer". Retrieved 2007-11-05.
- "Slang Dictionary".
- "Online Etymological Dictionary". Retrieved 4 March 2010.;"Oxford English Dictionary". Retrieved 4 March 2010.
|Look up slang in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Slang|
- The Online Slang Dictionary - American and English terms, features other statistical information
- SlangSite.com - Non-explicit American terms
- Urban Dictionary - Contributions by users
- American slang - with part of speech and sample sentences
- British slang - with definition, part of speech and usage examples
- The GonMad Cumbrian Dictionary - Dictionary of Cumbrian dialect and slang (online since 1997)
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