Language Catcher in the Rye

Topics: Slang, Language, Linguistics Pages: 14 (4714 words) Published: May 5, 2012
The American Dialect Society

The Language of 'The Catcher in the Rye' Author(s): Donald P. Costello Source: American Speech, Vol. 34, No. 3 (Oct., 1959), pp. 172-181 Published by: Duke University Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 30/01/2011 11:19 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

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TheCatcher theRye can be in ofJ. D. Salinger's justified not only on the basis of literary interest, but also on the basis Finn of linguistic significance.Today we study The Adventuresof Huckleberry in (with which many critics have compared The Catcher the Rye) not only as a great work of literary art, but as a valuable study in 1884 dialect. In coming in decades, The Catcher the Rye will be studied, I feel, not only as a literary also as an example of teenage vernacularin the 1950s. As such, the work, but book will be a significanthistoricallinguistic record of a type of speech rarely made available in permanentform. Its linguistic importance will increase as the American speech it records becomes less current. in Most critics who looked at The Catcher the Rye at the time of its publication thought that its languagewas a true and authentic rendering of teenage colloquial speech. Reviewers in the Chicago Sunday Tribune, the London the Times LiterarySupplement, New Republic, the New York Herald Tribune and Review BookReview, the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Saturday all specificallymentionedthe authenticity of the book's language. of Literature Various aspects of its language were also discussed in the reviews published in America, the Atlantic,the Catholic World,the ChristianScienceMonitor,the and the Manchester Guardian, Nation, the New Statesman the LibraryJournal, and New YorkTimesBookReview, Newsweek,the Spectator, Time.' Nation, the Worldand the Christian Of these many reviews, only the writers for the Catholic ScienceMonitor denied the authenticity of the book's language, but both of these are religious journalswhich refused to believe that the 'obscenity' was in realistic. An examinationof the reviews of The Catcher the Rye proves that



I. See reviews in America, LXXV (August 11, 1951), 463, 464; Atlantic, CLXXXVIII Part 4, p. 3; ChristianScienceMonitor, July 19, 195 1, p. 9; Library journal, LXXVI (i95 i), 1125; Times [London] LiterarySupplement,September 7, 1951, p. 561; Manchester Guard-

CLXXIV World, July 15, '951, (195i), 8z; Catholic (i95I), I54; ChicagoSundayTribune,

ian, August o10,195, p. 4; Nation,CLXXIII (Septemberj, 1951), 176; New Republic, and CXXV (July i6, 195s), zo, z ; New Statesman Nation,XLII (August i8, 1951), 185; New York...
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