American Slang Essay 1

Topics: Slang, Dialect, Sociolinguistics Pages: 54 (15472 words) Published: November 29, 2011

The present graduation paper deals with the study of slang as a part of language which presents certain interest both for the theoretical investigation and for practical language use. Slang is the use of highly informal words and expressions that are not considered standard in the speaker's dialect or language. Slang is often highly regional, specific to a particular territory. Slang terms are frequently particular to a certain subculture, such as musicians, and members of minority groups. Nevertheless, usage of slang expressions can spread outside their original arenas to become commonly understood, such as “cool” and “jive”. While some words eventually lose their status as slang, others continue to be considered as such by most speakers. In spite of this, the process tends to lead the original users to replace the words with other, less-recognized terms to maintain group identity. The word slang itself is used loosely and in a number of different and rather confusing ways, it really refers to words or uses of words or expressions which are extremely informal and which are very often fashionable and therefore rather temporary - they may come into the language, be very popular, and then die out again fairly rapidly. All of us use words of this type, but many people, including teachers, feel them to be inappropriate at least in certain situations because of their often extreme formality. Other people probably object to slang expressions simply because they are new - there are lots of people who are not very keen on novelty. And yet other people dislike particular slang items because they happen to be associated with a social group of which they are not a member. One of the points of slang may be precisely to identify person as belonging to a particular social group. Another of the functions of slang is to make speech vivid, colourful and interesting, and speakers often seem to keep up with current trends in slang for a while during their lifetimes but then grind to a halt when they can no longer be bothered about whether their vocabulary is fashionable. People frequently give away information about their age and/or attitudes when they speak by how up-to-date their slang is. Just think of the different ways that various generations have expressed their admiration for something. You could say that something was top-hole (pre-war), wizard (1940s), fab (1960s), ace (1970s), brill (1980s), and so on, without really meaning anything very different. 1 The aim of the paper is to define slang in general and show some specific features of American slang. American slang lives in the specialized media of the young, such as CD booklets, songs and video clips, magazines and Web sites. Through the media, young people enter fan communities where they learn to incorporate certain forms of English into both their speech and writing to show that they’re a part of youth culture. As a result, American slang and related resources have become a global code for youth worldwide embedded in a local code — the national language. “American,” writes H. L. Mencken,” shows its character in a constant experimentation, a wide hospitality to novelty, a steady reaching out for new and vivid forms. No other tongue of modern tunes admits foreign words and phrases more readily; none is more careless of precedents; none shows a greater fecundity and originality of fancy. It is producing new words every day, by trope, by agglutination, by the shedding of inflections, by the merging of parts of speech, and by sheer brilliance of imagination.

1.1. Definition of slang

Slang is the poetry of everyday life.       -S. I....
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