Language in Prison

Topics: Prison, Second language, Language education Pages: 3 (736 words) Published: October 8, 2008
Language is a very diverse aspect of each culture and can differ from state to state, city to city, and even community to community. A community that has a very unique language is prison. Prison inmates use a language called argot, which does not make sense to the average person, but is very necessary to inmates and guards. Argot is the more scientific term for criminal jargon or prison slang but it is used mainly to communicate between criminals and to create a barrier to keep others from understanding the criminal cultures (Bondeson 1988). Other languages are used in prisons, for instance prisoners from other countries have their own languages, and deaf prisoners have sign language or do not speak at all. There is a necessity for these prisoners to be understood as well. It is also important for the prison guards and faculties to understand these languages to communicate with the inmates. The guards could be put at risk if there are breaks in communications. The author will be looking at the pros and cons for various languages in prisons.

Languages in prisons can differ from institute to institute, but most of the slang can be understood by anyone in the criminal world. The words narc, a person that rats someone out, and shank, to stab someone, mean the same thing to all prisoners. A lot of this language was developed on the street where the crimes are committed and found its way into the prisons where the criminal culture resides. The biggest aspect of argot is centered around sexual practices, mostly that of the homosexual nature. Other aspects of this language deal with contraband and crime, institutional processes, but most important guard jargon (Ellis 2007). It is very important for prison guards to be able to recognize the words prisoners use to describe them. The guards need to be aware of plots against them and potential riots or wrong doings that could go on.

In the United States, prisons are made up of criminals from different countries and...
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