British slang and its classification — страница 2

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thieves, beggars) and usually felt to be vulgar or inferior: argot; b) the jargon used by or associated with a particular trade, profession, or field of activity. 2. A non-standard vocabulary composed of words and senses characterized primary by connotations of extreme informality and usually a currency not limited to a particular region and composed typically of coinages or arbitrarily changed words, clipped or shortened forms, extravagant, forced or facetious figures of speech, or verbal novelties usually experiencing quick popularity and relatively rapid decline into disuse. The "New Oxford English Dictionary" defines slang as follows: a) the special vocabulary used by any set of persons of a low or disreputable character; language of a low and vulgar type; b) the

cant or jargon of a certain class or period; c) language of a highly colloquial type considered as below the level of standard educated speech, and consisting either of new words or of current words employed in some special sense." As it is seen from these quotations slang is represented both as a special vocabulary and as a special language. This causes confusion. If this is a certain lexical layer, than why should it be given the rank of language or a dialect of even a patois, and then it should be characterized not only by its peculiar use of words but also by phonetic, morphological and syntactical peculiarities. In general all linguists agree that slang is nonstandard vocabulary composed of words or senses characterized primarily by connotations of extreme informality

and usually by a currency not limited to a particular region. It is composed typically of coinages or arbitrarily changed words, clipped or shortened forms, extravagant, forced, or facetious figures of speech, or verbal novelties. They are identified and distinguished by contrasting them to standard literary vocabulary. They are expressive, mostly ironical words serving to create fresh names for some things that are frequent topics of discourse.0 Slang consists of the words and expressions that have escaped from the cant, jargon and argot (and to a lesser extent from dialectal, nonstandard, and taboo speech) of specific subgroups of society so that they are known and used by an appreciable percentage of the general population, even though the words and expressions often retain

some associations with the subgroups that originally used and popularized them. Thus, slang is a middle ground for words and expressions that have become too popular to be any longer considered as part of the more restricted categories, but that are not yet (and may never become) acceptable or popular enough to be considered informal or standard. (Compare the slang "hooker" and the standard "prostitute.") Slang fills a necessary niche in all languages. It can serve as a bridge or a barrier, either helping both old and new words that have been used as "insiders' " terms by a specific group of people to enter the language of the general public or, on the other hand, preventing them from doing so. Thus, for many words, slang is a testing ground that

finally proves them to be generally useful, appealing, and acceptable enough to become standard or informal. For many other words, slang is a testing ground that shows them to be too restricted in use, not as appealing as standard synonyms, or unnecessary, frivolous, faddish, or unacceptable for standard or informal speech. For still a third group of words and expressions, slang becomes not a final testing ground that either accepts or rejects them for general use but becomes a vast limbo, a permanent holding ground, an area of speech that a word never leaves Slang words cannot be distinguished from other words by sound or meaning. In fact, most slang words are homonyms of standard words, spelled and pronounced just like their standard counterparts, as for example slang words for

money such as beans, brass, dibs, dough, chinc, oof, wards; the slang synonyms for word head are attic, brain-pan, hat peg, nut, upper storey; drunk- boozy, cock-eyed, high, soaked, tight, and pot (marijuana). Of course, these words are alike in their ordinary standard use and in their slang use. Each word sounds just as appealing or unappealing, dull or colorful in its standard as in its slang use. Also, the meanings of beans and money, head and attic, pot and marijuana are the same, so it cannot be said that the connotations of slang words are any more colorful or racy than the meanings of standard words.0 All languages, countries, and periods of history have slang. This is true because they all have had words with varying degrees of social acceptance and popularity. The same