Реферат: Slang--PAGE_BREAK--A young German soldier, Johannes Philippson, wrote home in the summer of 1917 that «only genuine self-command is any use to me.» (34) French historian Marc Bloch described the feelings of his troops in December 1914: «Trench warfare had become so slow, so dreary, so debilitating to body and soul that even the least brave among us wholeheartedly welcomed the prospect of an attack.» (35)
How, then, could soldiers combat the soul-killing existence in the trenches and the ever-divsent fear of death and wounds? One method was through a reliance on talismans and rituals. As Fussell has noted «no front-line soldier or officer was without his amulet and every tunic pocket became a reliquary… so urgent was the need that no talisman was too absurd.» (36)
Luck also depended on ritual — on doing some things and refraining from others, doing things in threes for example, or Graves' conviction that his survival was due to the divservation of his virginity. (37) Another form of talismanic protection was provided by the use of slang. Niceforo defines «magical slang» («l'argot magique») as the language used by individuals when they fear (for reasons having a magical basis) to call things and people by their real names. (38)
Slang allowed the troops to create a ritualised discourse, fully intelligible only to the initiates, that supdivssed fear by avoiding any mention by name of death, wounds, weapons, and the authorities whose orders could expose a soldier to those dangers. In short, the trench slang of World War I served a protective function by creating a language that familiarised, trivialised, and disparaged those objects and persons posing the greatest danger to the individual soldier.
One of the most important taboos in the language of soldiers was any mention of death. While the author of a novel or memoir may state in a narrative capacity that someone was killed or wounded, such statements are nearly non-existent in the dialogues of soldiers. Niceforo notes that the taboo against mentioning death is very widesdivad, even in modern cultures. (39)
The taboo is particularly strong when death is omnidivsent. A «Tommy» might say «He's gone west» or «He's hopped it.» The Germans simply said Er ist aus (He's gone, done for). (40) A poilu remarked that his comrade had earned la croix de bois, the wooden cross, probably an ironic formation on croix de guerre. The important decorations for valour on all sides in the First World War were in the shape of a cross, providing ample scope for metaphoric formations.
As an interesting comment on the insignificance of medals to common soldiers, German Frontsoldaten scathingly called all decorations Zinnwaren, (tinware), while the French referred to them as batterie de cuisine (cookware).
Wounds were handled in much the same way. British and German troops had similar exdivssions for desirable wounds, just serious enough to ensure that the wounded man would be evacuated home. For the British, such a wound was a «Blighty,» a term derived from a Hindu word meaning a foreign country and taken up by British troops in India to refer to Britain.
For the Germans, it was a Heimatschuss (a home shot), or an Urlaubschuss (a leave shot), or even a Deutschlandschuss (a shot that gets one to Germany). For the French, who were already on home ground, une fine blessure, (the adjective weakens the gravity of the noun), nevertheless ensured evacuation and convalescence far from the front.
The tendency to familiarise and trivialise is most apparent in the names for weapons. In the age of the Materialschlacht, the terrifying killing and maiming power of high explosives posed the greatest threat to infantrymen on the Western Front, followed by rifle and machine-gun fire. The distant impersonality of the killing (one scarcely ever saw the enemy), and its undivdictability made it particularly threatening.
Trivializing names for weapons and their projectiles reduced the psychological sense of danger. Bergmann notes that the tradition of naming heavy guns reaches at least to the early seventeenth century. (41) The soldiers of the Great War, faced with the most destructive technology then known, were not behindhand. All the combatants referred to the various artillery weapons by their calibres. Everyone spoke of «75s,» the French 75 millimetre field gun, and «180s,» the German heavy howitzer.
German field guns of various calibres were variously dubbed wilde Marie, dicke Marie, dicke Bertha (the famous «Big Bertha»), der liebe Fritz, der lange Max, and schlanke Emma. (42) The manoeuvrability of the French 75 was honoured in the name Feldhase (field hare). The French called their 75 Julot, which seems to have been one of the few French names in general circulation for heavy artillery pieces.
The French trench mortar, a squat, blunt-nosed gun with angled supports, was called «le crapouillot,» a word formed from «crapaud» (toad), either from its shape or the fact that its shells fired almost vertically and then dropped into the opposing trench line, much like the hop of a toad. Bergmann has correctly assessed the effect of naming guns for people (especially women) and animals: "...man sucht auch auf diesem Wege sich die unheimlichen Kriegsmaschinen n@her zu bringen, sie sich vertrauter zu machen und ihre Gefahr gleichsam geringer erscheinen zu lassen" («in this way one seeks to bring the sinister war machines closer, to make them more familiar and, as it were, to let their danger appear slighter»). (43)
The British seem to have been disinclined to name their guns, but all three languages are richly furnished with names for the projectiles, probably because ordinary infantrymen tended to be on the receiving end. Because of the large quantity of black smoke produced by the explosion, a heavy shell was called a «Jack Johnson», or a «coal-box.»
In French, a similar shell was un gros noir, and one that exploded with greenish smoke was un pernod, named after the popular drink. Others were saucissons (sausages), sacs B terre (sand bags) and marmites, named after the large, deep cooking pot of the same name. Germans called a heavy shell an Aschpott (ash pot) or a Marmeladeneimer (jam pot). The British trivialised the German mine thrower — the Minnenwerfer — by calling its whistling shells «singing Minnies,» thus reducing a dangerous weapon to the status of a harmless girl. (44)
Similarly, the German hand grenades, which had handles, quickly became known as «potato mashers,» which they did, indeed, resemble. The oval hand grenades of France and Britain were called les tortues (turtles) by the French and Ostereier (Easter eggs) by the Germans. A German discus-shaped hand grenade was a Nhrnberger Lebkuchen, the famous gingerbread Christmas cookie. In all of these cases, the movement is to trivialise and familiarise the weapons by noting a resemblance to something common, familiar, and above all, harmless.
The racial and sexual innuendo inherent in several of the slang names (i.e. Jack Johnson, Big Bertha) is part of the same pattern and reflects the attitudes of the period; it is not like the deliberately derogatory and ironic slang used for the rear echelons, as we shall see.
The front line troops also displayed the greatest inventiveness in their slang names for infantry weapons, colouring the euphemism with an ironic twist. Take, for example, the machine gun, the most dangerous infantry weapon. The Germans generally used the acronym MG for Maschinengewehr, although Stottertante (stuttering aunt) and Nuhmaschine (sewing machine) were current. (45) The British called their own machine guns Lewis guns and the enemy's Maxim guns, named for their inventors.
But for the poilu, the machine gun became un moulin B cafe — a coffee mill — first because the early gatling-gun types were hand-cranked, and secondly for the sound they made. In any event, the gun was reduced to being a familiar household object in everyday use. Later in the war irony took over, and the machine gun was also called la machine B decoudre — a machine to rip open seams, ironically formed on machine B coudre (sewing machine). The verb decoudre also denotes the action of a horned animal ripping open its attackers, giving the phrase a sinister undertone.
But the cleverest French slang involves the bayonet. The French army had succumbed to a veritable cult of the bayonet in the period before the war. It was regarded as the infantry weapon par excellence, the embodiment of the offensive spirit, and the bayonet charge as the surest indication of military elan among foot soldiers — the infantry equivalent of a cavalry charge.
In the realities of trench combat, as Jean Norton Cru has shown, the bayonet, despite its sinister appearance and exalted reputation, was little used and produced minor wounds in comparison to the effects of shrapnel and bullets. (46)
But it was a favourite for nicknames, the most famous of which is Rosalie, from a 1914 song far more popular among civilians than among soldiers. (47) The bayonet was known as la fourchette (the fork), and le cure-dents (the toothpick), as well as a tire-Boche and a tourne-Boche. In the last cases Boche, as the general slang term for the Germans, is substituted into existing phrases.
The former comes from tire-bouchon, a corkscrew, possibly a reference to the twisting movement that soldiers were taught to use in a bayonet thrust. The latter, tourne-boche, is formed from tournebroche, a kitchen spit for roasting meat and fowl in the fireplace.
One of the most striking characteristics of slang is its inclination toward degradation rather than elevation, what Partridge following Carnoy has called dysphemism. (48) Niceforo calls it «l'esprit de degradation et de dedivciation,» («the spirit of degradation and dedivciation») and goes on to speak of slang as a form of assault directed at a higher class by an underclass. (49)
In its deliberate deformation of words, mispronunciation and taste for impropriety, slang may serve as the only act of rebellion allowed soldiers at war. While most mispronunciations of French place names were probably just that, a few are so wonderfully ironic that they must have been deliberate, such as the German deformation of Neufchatel to Neuschrapnell (new shrapnel). (50)
Fear, and the hatred it spawned, was directed above all toward the «powers that be,» the perfidious and murderous ils (they) as Meyer calls them. (51)
The combat soldiers' hatred of the rear, which certainly involved some envy as well as a sense of moral superiority, rested also on a sense of betrayal — the certainty that the powers, civilian or military, that ordered their lives cared little for them. As we will see, slang terms for rear echelon troops in French and German abound in animal and vegetal metaphors, constituting a figurative vilification of intelligence, courage, and manhood.
The conviction that their lives were not valued emerges in numerous guises in the slang, including slang used for food, which was, naturally, a major divoccupation of troops who were often badly fed. The men exercised their traditional right to grumble about the food and create disparaging epithets to describe it, a custom going back to the «grognards» of the Napoleonic Wars and beyond, and certainly continuing to our own time.
One of the staple rations in World War I was British canned beef, called «Bully» beef by the troops. («Bully» is probably a corruption of the French bouillie, boiled). The Germans also called it «Bully,» and liked it so well that they rarely returned from a trench raid without some, especially since German rations worsened as the war lengthened and the allied blockade cut off German resources.
By 1916, the staple of the German soldier's diet was a mixture of dried vegetables, mostly beans, that the Frontsoldaten called Drahtverhau (barbed wire). Other German culinary delights included Stroh und Lehm (straw and mud — yellow peas with sauerkraut), and Schrapnellsuppe (shrapnel soup — undercooked pea or bean soup).
Jam, essential for softening stale bread, was Heldenbutter (hero's butter), Wagenschmiere (axle grease), and Kaiser-Wilhelm-Ged@chtnis-Schmiere (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Sdivad). (52) Some of these terms may refer specifically to the notorious turnip jam that became standard issue after the blockade and crop failures created severe shortages. Sdivad on ersatz bread made with sawdust and other fillers, it was neither appetizing nor nourishing.
The French did not share their enemy's or ally's taste for «Bully». They referred to it as singe, (monkey), and boTte B grimaces, for the grimaces it produced. Other regular items in the French soldier's diet included schrapnells (undercooked peas or beans), and lentils, known as punaises (bugs).
They called a stew a rata, a shortened form of ratatouille, which in its general sense refers to a stew, not merely the vegetable stew which it designates in modern French. Rata however, also suggests the verb ratatiner (to shrivel or dry up), which may be a remark on the quality of army cooking.
The use of slang as insult, as defensive and offensive weapon, reached its peak in the front line soldier's contempt for rear echelon soldiers and for civilians. The universal distain for the staffs, soldiers and officers alike, in their relatively safe and sheltered jobs, surfaces in all three languages with vitriolic implications of cowardice, greed, and self-seeking.
In the British army, staff officers were distinguished by the wearing of bright red shoulder tabs and hat bands. The colour constituted a visible symbol that the wearer did not belong to the colourless khaki and field-grey world of the front, where distinguishing marks were abolished because they made good targets for snipers. The frontline troops soon dubbed the tabs «The Red Badge of Funk.» (53) Along this line, one of the trench newspapers provided the following definition of «military terms»:
DUDS — These are of two kinds. A shell on impact
failing to explode is called a dud. They are unhappily
not as plentiful as the other kind, which often draws a
big salary and explodes for no reason. These are
plentiful away from the fighting areas. (54)
The implication of cowardice is less obvious in the French and German terms for staff officers, but the scorn is deepened by the use of animal references. In the German Frontschwein, used for the front soldiers, Schwein was an exdivssion of community and commonality, almost of endearment.
But the equivalent term for headquarters soldiers, Etappenschwein, was entirely pejorative. The German focus, understandably, since the German troops were very ill-fed, was greed. Rear echelon troops were often called Speck (bacon), and one writer even referred to the Etappenschweine as «bellies on legs.» (55)
The French slang is inventively pejorative. For them, the headquarters sergeant was a chien de quartier, a headquarters dog. The choice of animal is significant, as chien is a broadly-used pejorative in French, common in such phrases as chien de temps (bad weather), chien de vie (a dog's life) and Ltre chien (to be stingy).
The term in widest use for someone who had a safe job was embusquJ, whose first meaning is someone lying in ambush. The word consequently carries connotations both of hiding and, worse, of betrayal.
Another term, planquJ, has the original meaning of lying flat, ie. safely out of the line of fire; a similar term is assiettes plates (flat plates). The most insulting epithet is the opposite of poilu, JpilJ (someone who has been depilitated), implying the loss of the vaunted courage and virility of the poilu.
--PAGE_BREAK--High ranking officers, invariably staff officers, since the troops rarely saw anyone above the rank of captain, were reduced to lJgumes (vegetables) and generals to grosses lJgumes (big vegetables). A brigadier's stripes of rank were sardines, suggesting in French, as in English, a small, smelly fish.
In conclusion then, the unique conditions of the First World War (a war of defensive weapons led by generals obsessed with offensives) engendered a level of psychological stress in the combatants hitherto unknown in Europe. Along with talisman and ritual, the slang of the trenches provided a stylised discourse for the initiates of the labyrinth, through which they could define themselves as initiates, and simultaneously protect themselves from the constant awareness of their horrific situation.
As John Brophy has said of Great War soldiers' songs, the slang may not have diminished the soldier's danger, but it «may well have reduced the emotional distress caused by fear, and aided him, after the experience, to pick his uncertain way back to sanity again.» (56)
Background of Cockney English: Due to the fact that London is both the political capital and the largest city within England, Wells, (1982b) doesn’t find it surprising that it’s also the country’s «linguistic center of gravity.» Cockney redivsents the basilectal end of the London accent and can be considered the broadest form of London local accent.(Wells 1982b) It traditionally refers only to specific regions and speakers within the city. While many Londoners may speak what is referred to as «popular London» (Wells 1982b) they do not necessarily speak Cockney. The popular Londoner accent can be distinguished from Cockney in a number of ways, and can also be found outside of the capital, unlike the true Cockney accent.
The term Cockney refers to both the accent as well as to those people who speak it? The etymology of Cockney has long been discussed and disputed. One explanation is that «Cockney» literally means cock's egg, a misshapen egg such as sometimes laid by young hens. It was originally used when referring to a weak townsman, opposed to the tougher countryman and by the 17th century the term, through banter, came to mean a Londoner (Liberman, 1996). Today's natives of London, especially in its East End use the term with respect and pride — `Cockney Pride'.)
Cockney is characterized by its own special vocabulary and usage, and traditionally by its own development of «rhyming slang.» Rhyming slang, is still part of the true Cockney culture even if it is sometimes used for effect. More information on the way it works can be found under the Cockney English features section.
Geography of Cockney English: London, the capital of England, is situated on the River Thames, approximately 50 miles north of the English Channel, in the south east section of the country. It is generally agreed, that to be a true Cockney, a person has to be born within hearing distance of the bells of St. Mary le Bow, Cheapside, in the City of London. This traditional working-class accent of the region is also associated with other suburbs in the eastern section of the city such as the East End, Stepney, Hackney, Shoreditch Poplar and Bow.
Sociolinguistic issues of Cockney English: The Cockney accent is generally considered one of the broadest of the British accents and is heavily stimatized. It is considered to epitomize the working class accents of Londoners and in its more diluted form, of other areas. The area and its colorful characters and accents have often become the foundation for British «soap operas» and other television specials. Currently, the BBC is showing one of the most popular soaps set in this region, «East Enders» and the characters’ accents and lives within this television program provide wonderful opportunities for observers of language and culture.
Features of Cockney English: Some of the more characteristic features of the Cockney accent include the following:
This affects the lexical set mouth vowel.
· MOUTH vowel
Wells (1982b) believes that it is widely agreed that the «mouth» vowel is a «touchstone for distinguishing between „true Cockney“ and popular London» and other more standard accents. Cockney usage would include monophthongization of the word mouth
mouth = mauf <shapetype id="_x0000_t75" coordsize=«21600,21600» o:spt=«75» o:divferrelative=«t» path=«m@4@5l@4@11@9@11@9@5xe» filled=«f» stroked=«f»><path o:extrusionok=«f» gradientshapeok=«t» o:connecttype=«rect»><lock v:ext=«edit» aspectratio=«t»><imagedata src=«dopb96295.zip» o:><img border=«0» width=«38» height=«13» src=«dopb96295.zip» v:shapes="_x0000_i1025">rather than mouth <imagedata src=«dopb96296.zip» o:><img border=«0» width=«41» height=«13» src=«dopb96296.zip» v:shapes="_x0000_i1026">
· Glottal stop
Wells (1982b) describes the glottal stop as also particularly characteristic of Cockney and can be manifested in different ways such as «t» glottalling in final position. A 1970’s study of schoolchildren living in the East End found /p,t,k/ «almost invariably glottalized» in final position.
cat = <imagedata src=«dopb96297.zip» o:><img border=«0» width=«35» height=«13» src=«dopb96297.zip» v:shapes="_x0000_i1027"> up = <imagedata src=«dopb96298.zip» o:><img border=«0» width=«29» height=«13» src=«dopb96298.zip» v:shapes="_x0000_i1028"> sock = <imagedata src=«dopb96299.zip» o:><img border=«0» width=«34» height=«13» src=«dopb96299.zip» v:shapes="_x0000_i1029">
It can also manifest itself as a bare <imagedata src=«dopb96300.zip» o:><img border=«0» width=«14» height=«14» src=«dopb96300.zip» v:shapes="_x0000_i1030">as the realization of word internal intervocalic /t/
Waterloo = Wa’erloo <imagedata src=«dopb96301.zip» o:><img border=«0» width=«63» height=«13» src=«dopb96301.zip» v:shapes="_x0000_i1031"> City = Ci’y <imagedata src=«dopb96302.zip» o:><img border=«0» width=«32» height=«13» src=«dopb96302.zip» v:shapes="_x0000_i1032"> A drink of water = A drin' a wa'er <imagedata src=«dopb96303.zip» o:><img border=«0» width=«42» height=«13» src=«dopb96303.zip» v:shapes="_x0000_i1033"> A little bit of bread with a bit of butter on it = A li'le bi' of breab wiv a bi' of bu'er on i'. <imagedata src=«dopb96304.zip» o:><img border=«0» width=«35» height=«13» src=«dopb96304.zip» v:shapes="_x0000_i1034">
As would be expected, an «Estuary English» speaker uses fewer glottal stops for t or d than a «London» speaker, but more than an RP speaker. However, there are some words where the omission of ‘t’ has become very accepted.
Gatwick = Ga’wick
Scotland = Sco'land
statement = Sta'emen
network = Ne’work
· Dropped ‘h’ at beginning of words (Voiceless glottal fricative)
In the working-class («common») accents throughout England, ‘h’ dropping at the beginning of certain words is heard often, but it’s certainly heard more in Cockney, and in accents closer to Cockney on the continuum between that and RP. The usage is strongly stigmatized by teachers and many other standard speakers.
house = ‘ouse
hammer = ‘ammer
· TH fronting
Another very well known characteristic of Cockney is th fronting which involves the replacement of the dental fricatives, <imagedata src=«dopb96305.zip» o:><img border=«0» width=«18» height=«11» src=«dopb96305.zip» v:shapes="_x0000_i1035">and <imagedata src=«dopb96306.zip» o:><img border=«0» width=«16» height=«11» src=«dopb96306.zip» v:shapes="_x0000_i1036">by labiodentals [f] and [v] respectively.
thin = fin <imagedata src=«dopb96307.zip» o:><img border=«0» width=«24» height=«13» src=«dopb96307.zip» v:shapes="_x0000_i1037">
brother = bruvver <imagedata src=«dopb96308.zip» o:><img border=«0» width=«41» height=«13» src=«dopb96308.zip» v:shapes="_x0000_i1038">
three = free <imagedata src=«dopb96309.zip» o:><img border=«0» width=«26» height=«13» src=«dopb96309.zip» v:shapes="_x0000_i1039">
bath = barf <imagedata src=«dopb96310.zip» o:><img border=«0» width=«31» height=«13» src=«dopb96310.zip» v:shapes="_x0000_i1040">
· Vowel lowering
dinner = dinna <imagedata src=«dopb96311.zip» o:><img border=«0» width=«33» height=«13» src=«dopb96311.zip» v:shapes="_x0000_i1041">
marrow= marra <imagedata src=«dopb96312.zip» o:><img border=«0» width=«40» height=«13» src=«dopb96312.zip» v:shapes="_x0000_i1042">
The voice quality of Cockney has been described as typically involving «chest tone» rather than «head tone» and being equated with «rough and harsh» sounds versus the velvety smoothness of the Kensington or Mayfair accents spoken by those in other more upscale areas of London.
· Cockney Rhyming Slang
Cockney English is also characterized by its own special vocabulary and usage in the form of «cockney rhyming slang». The way it works is that you take a pair of associated words where the second word rhymes with the word you intend to say, then use the first word of the associated pair to indicate the word you originally intended to say. Some rhymes have been in use for years and are very well recognized, if not used, among speakers of other accents.
«apples and pears» – stairs
«plates of meat» – feet
There are others, however, that become established with the changing culture.
«John Cleese» – cheese
«John Major» – pager
Numerous examples and usage of rhyming slang can be found online. See Note 2 for information.
Slang and the Dictionary
Slang… an attempt of common humanity to escape from bald literalism, and exdivss itself illimitably… the wholesome fermentation or eructation of those processes eternally active in language, by which froth and specks are thrown up, mostly to pass away, though occasionally to settle and permanently crystallise.
Walt Whitman, 1885
What is slang?
Most of us think that we recognise slang when we hear it or see it, but exactly how slang is defined and which terms should or should not be listed under that heading continue to be the subject of debate in the bar-room as much as in the classroom or university seminar. To arrive at a working definition of slang the first edition of the Bloomsbury Dictionary of Contemporary Slang approached the phenomenon from two slightly different angles. Firstly, slang is a style category within the language which occupies an extreme position on the spectrum of formality. Slang is at the end of the line; it lies beyond mere informality or colloquialism, where language is considered too racy, raffish, novel or unsavoury for use in conversation with strangers … So slang enforces intimacy. It often performs an important social function which is to include into or exclude from the intimate circle, using forms of language through which speakers identify with or function within social sub-groups, ranging from surfers, schoolchildren and yuppies, to criminals, drinkers and fornicators. These remain the essential features of slang at the end of the 1990s, although its extreme informality may now seem less shocking than it used to, and its users now include ravers, rappers and net-heads along with the miscreants traditionally cited.
There are other characteristics which have been used to delimit slang, but these may often be the result of divjudice and misunderstanding and not percipience. Slang has been referred to again and again as ‘illegitimate’, ‘low and disreputable’ and condemned by serious writers as ‘a sign and a cause of mental atrophy’(Oliver Wendell Holmes), ‘the advertisement of mental poverty’(James C. Fernal). Its in-built unorthodoxy has led to the assumption that slang in all its incarnations (metaphors, euphemisms, taboo words, catchphrases, nicknames, abbreviations and the rest) is somehow inherently substandard and unwholesome. But linguists and lexicographers cannot (or at least, should not) stigmatise words in the way that society may stigmatise the users of those words and, looked at objectively, slang is no more redivhensible than poetry, with which it has much in common in its creative playing with the conventions and mechanisms of language, its manipulation of metonymy, synechdoche, irony, its wit and inventiveness. In understanding this, and also that slang is a natural product of those ‘processes eternally active in language’, Walt Whitman was ahead of his time.
More recently some writers (Halliday being an influential example) have claimed that the essence of slang is that it is language used in conscious opposition to authority. But slang does not have to be subversive; it may simply encode a shared experience, celebrate a common outlook which may be based as much on (relatively) innocent enjoyment (by, for instance, schoolchildren, drinkers, sports fans, Internet-users) as on illicit activities. Much slang, in fact, functions as an alternative vocabulary, replacing standard terms with more forceful, emotive or interesting versions just for the fun of it: hooter or conk for nose, mutt or pooch for dog, ankle-biter or crumb-snatcher for child are instances. Still hoping to find a defining characteristic, other experts have seized upon the rapid turnover of slang words and announced that this is the key element at work; that slang is concerned with faddishness and that its here-today-gone-tomorrow components are ungraspable and by implication inconsequential. Although novelty and innovation are very important in slang, a close examination of the whole lexicon reveals that, as Whitman had noted, it is not necessarily transient at all. The word punk, for example, has survived in the linguistic underground since the seventeenth century and among the slang synonyms for money — dosh, ackers, spondulicks, rhino, pelf — which were popular in the City of London in the 1990s are many which are more than a hundred years old. A well-known word like cool in its slang sense is still in use (and has been adopted by other languages, too), although it first appeared around eighty years ago.
Curiously, despite the public’s increasing fascination for slang, as evinced in newspaper and magazine articles and radio programmes, academic linguists in the UK have hitherto shunned it as a field of study. This may be due to a lingering conservatism, or to the fact that it is the standard varieties of English that have to be taught, but whatever the reasons the situation is very different elsewhere. In the US and Australia the study of slang is part of the curriculum in many institutions, in France, Spain, Holland, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe slang, and especially the slang of English, is the subject of more and more research projects and student theses; in all these places slang is discussed in symposia and in learned journals, while in Russia, China and Japan local editions of British and American slang dictionaries can be found on school bookshelves and in university libraries.
The first glossaries or lexicons of European slang on record were lists of the verbal curiosities used by thieves and ne’er-do-wells which were compiled in Germany and France in the fifteenth century. A hundred years later the first English collections appeared under the titles The Hye Waye to the Spytell House, by Copland, Fraternite of Vacabondes, by Awdeley, and Caveat for Common Cursetours, by Harman. Although dramatists and pamphleteers of seventeenth-century England made spirited use of slang in their works, it was not until the very end of the 1600s that the next important compilation, the first real dictionary of slang, appeared. This was A New Dictionary of the Terms ancient and modern of the Canting Crew by ‘B. E. Gent’, a writer whose real identity is lost to us. In 1785, Captain Francis Grose published the first edition of his Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, the most important contribution to slang lexicography until John Camden Hotten’s Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant and Vulgar Words, 1859, which was overtaken its turn by Farmer and Henley’s more sophisticated Slang and its Analogues in 1890. All these were published in Britain and it was the New Zealander Eric Partridge’s single-handed masterwork A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, also published in London, in 1937, that, despite its lack of citations and sometimes eccentric etymologies, became the yardstick of slang scholarship at least until the arrival of more rigorously organised compendiums from the USA in the 1950s. Since then several larger reference works have been published, usually confining themselves to one geographical area and based mainly on written sources, together with a number of smaller, often excellent specialist dictionaries dealing with categories such as naval slang, Glaswegian slang, rhyming slang, the argot of police and criminals and the jargon of finance and high technology.
The Bloomsbury Dictionary Of Contemporary Slang
The Bloomsbury Dictionary of Contemporary Slang was first produced with the idea of combining the enthusiasms and instincts of a user of slang — someone who had been part of the subcultures and milieux where this language variety has flourished ( and in later life still ventures into clubs, bars, music festivals, football matches and, on occasion, homeless shelters) — with the methods of the modern lexicographer (earlier work on the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English being a particular influence) and applied linguist. The first edition set out to record the 6,000 or so key terms and 15,000-odd definitions which formed the core of worldwide English language slang from 1950 to 1990: the new, updated edition, published in Autumn 1997, extends the time-frame almost to the millennium and expands the number of entries by two thousand, losing a few obscure, doubtfully attested or just plain uninteresting terms in the process. The dictionary aims to pick up the elusive and picturesque figures of speech that really are in use out there in the multiple anglophone speech communities, and many terms which appear in its pages have never been recorded before. In keeping with the modern principles of dictionary-making, the headwords which are listed here are defined as far as possible in natural, discursive language. The modern dictionary ideally moves beyond mere definition and tries to show how a term functions in the language, who uses it and when and why, what special associations or overtones it may have, perhaps even how it is pronounced. Where possible a history of the word and an indication of its origin will be included and its usage illustrated by an authentic citation or an invented exemplary phrase or sentence.
--PAGE_BREAK--As with all similar dictionaries, the Bloomsbury volume is based to some extent on consulting written sources such as newspapers, magazines, comic books, novels and works of non-fiction. Other secondary sources of slang are TV and radio programmes, films and song lyrics. Existing glossaries compiled by researchers, by journalists and by Internet enthusiasts were also checked, but treated, like fictional texts and broadcasts, with caution; investigators may be misled by their informants and, as society becomes more self-conscious in its treatment of new and unorthodox language, varieties of so-called slang appear that are only partly authentic, such as the gushing 'teen-talk' (a variety of journalese) appearing in UK magazines like Just Seventeen, My Guy or Sugar directed by twenty- and thirty-something journalists at their much younger readers, or the argot developed by writers for cult movies such as Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, Wayne's World and Clueless. The embellishing or inventing of slang is nothing new; Damon Runyon, Raymond Chandler and P. G. Wodehouse all indulged in it, as did British TV comedy writers for Porridge, Minder, Only Fools and Horses, etc., over the last three decades. For the Bloomsbury dictionary terms have been admitted if they can be verified from two or more sources, thereby, sadly, shutting out examples of idiolect (one person's private language), restricted sociolects (terms shared by very small groups) and nonce terms (one-off coinages).
Any description of slang that is based purely on secondary or written sources (and most still are) cannot hope to do justice to a language which is primarily transmitted orally. Slang terms may exist in spoken usage for many years, even for centuries, before being written down; some are never committed to paper, so there is an absolute need for work ‘in the field’ with primary sources; eavesdropping on and interviewing the users of slang themselves, and, where they are not able to report objectively on the words and phrases they are using, their neighbours, parents, colleagues, fellow-students and friends must be mobilised. This is the most exciting part of lexicography, if sometimes the most risky. The modern language researchers going undercover to listen in on conversations or setting up networks of informants at street-level can imagine themselves as successors to the pioneering anthropologists of the last century, rather than ‘harmless drudges’ (Dr Johnson's memorable definition of the lexicographer) toiling alone in dusty libraries or staring at flickering screens.
Slang at the Millennium
The traditional breeding grounds of slang have always been secretive, often disenfranchised social groups and closed institutions with their rituals and codes. This has not changed, although the users in question have. Where once it was the armed forces, the public schools and Oxbridge that in Britain dominated socially and linguistically, now it is the media, the comdivhensive playground and the new universities which exercise most influence on popular language: the office, the trading-floor and the computer-room have replaced the workshop, the factory and the street-market as nurturing environments for slang. The street gang and the prison, whence came nearly all the ‘cant’ that filled the early glossaries, still provide a great volume of slang, as do the subcultures of rave, techno and jungle music, crusties and new agers, skaters and snowboarders. Football metaphors and in-jokes have long since ousted the cricketing imagery of yesteryear. Some special types of slang including pig-latin (infixing)and backslang (reversal, as in yob )seem virtually to have disappeared in the last few years, while the rhyming slang which arose in the early Victorian age continues to flourish in Britain and Australia, replenished by succeeding generations, and the even older parlyaree (a romance/romany/yiddish lingua franca) lingers on in corners of London’s theatre-land and gay community. The effect of the media and more recently of the Internet means that slang in English can no longer be seen as a set of discrete localised dialects, but as a continuum or a bundle of overlapping vocabularies stretching from North America and the Caribbean through Ireland and the UK on to South Africa, South and East Asia and Australasia. Each of these communities has its own peculiarities of speech, but instantaneous communications and the effect of English language movies, TV soaps and music means that there is a core of slang that is common to all of them and into which they can feed. The feeding in still comes mainly from the US, and to a lesser extent Britain and Australia; slang from other areas and the slang of minorities in the larger communities has yet to make much imdivssion on global English, with one significant exception. That is the black slang which buzzes between Brooklyn, Trenchtown, Brixton and Soweto before, in many cases, crossing over to pervade the language of the underworld, teenagers ( — it is the single largest source for current adolescent slang in both the UK and US), the music industry and showbusiness. Within one country divviously obscure local slang can become nationally known, whether sdivad by the bush telegraph that has always linked schools and colleges or by the media: Brookside, Coronation Street, Rab C. Nesbitt and Viz magazine have all helped in disseminating British regionalisms. This mixing-up of national and local means that past assumptions about usage may no longer hold true: the earnest English traveller, having learned that fag and bum mean something else in North America, now finds that in fashionable US campus-speak they can actually mean cigarette and backside. In the meantime the alert American in Britain learns that cigarettes have become tabs or biffs and backside is now often rendered by the Jamaican batty .
Speakers of English everywhere seem to have become more liberal, admitting more and more slang into their unselfconscious everyday speech; gobsmacked, O.T.T ., wimp and sorted can now be heard among the respectable British middle-aged; terms such as horny and bullshit which were not so long ago considered vulgar in the extreme are now heard regularly on radio and television, while former taboo terms, notably the ubiquitous British shag, occur even in the conversation of young ladies. In Oakland, California, the liberalising process reached new extremes late in 1996 with the promotion of so-called Ebonics: black street speech given equal status with the language of the dominant white culture.
The greatest number of new terms appearing in the new edition of the dictionary are used by adolescents and children, the group in society most given to celebrating heightened sensations, new experiences and to renaming the features of their world, as well as mocking anyone less interesting or younger or older than themselves. But the rigid generation gap which used to operate in the family and school has to some extent disappeared. Children still distance themselves from their parents and other authority figures by their use of a secret code, but the boomers — the baby boom generation — grew up identifying themselves with subversion and liberalism and, now that they are parents in their turn, many of them are unwilling either to disapprove of or to give up the use of slang, picking up their children's words (often much to the latters' embarrassment) and evolving their own family-based language ( helicopters, velcroids, howlers, chap-esses are examples).
The main obsessions among slang users of all ages, as revealed by word counts, have not changed; intoxication by drink or drugs throws up (no pun intended) the largest number of synonyms; lashed, langered, mullered and hooted are recent additions to this part of the lexicon. These are followed by words related to sex and romance — copping off, out trouting, on the sniff and jam, lam, slam and the rest — and the many vogue terms of approval that go in and out of fashion among the young (in Britain ace, brill, wicked and phat have given way to top, mint, fit and dope which are themselves on the way out at the time of writing). The number of nicknames for money, bollers, boyz, beer-tokens, squirt and spon among them, has divdictably increased since the materialist 1980s and adolescent concern with identity-building and status-confirming continues to produce a host of dismissive epithets for the unfortunate misfit, some of which, like wendy, spod, licker, are confined to the school environment while others, such as trainspotter, anorak and geek, have crossed over into generalised usage.
Other obsessions are more curious; is it the North American housewife’s hygiene fetish which has given us more than a dozen terms (dust-bunny, dust-kitty, ghost-turd, etc.) for the balls of fluff found on an unswept floor, where British English has only one (beggars velvet )? Why do speakers in post-industrial Britain and Australia still need a dozen or more words to denote the flakes of dung that hang from the rear of sheep and other mammals, words like dags, dangleberries, dingleberries, jub-nuts, winnets and wittens? Teenagers have their fixations, finding wigs (toop, syrup, Irish, rug) and haemorrhoids (farmers, Emma Freuds, nauticals) particularly hilarious. A final curiosity is the appearance in teenage speech fashionable vogue terms which are actually much older than their users realise: once again referring to money, British youth has come up with luka ( the humorous pejorative «filthy lucre» in a new guise), Americans with duckets (formerly «ducats», the Venetian gold coins used all over Renaissance Europe).
There are some examples of nowadays’ slang which I found from very interesting site:
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