American Slang Essay 1

15481 Words Dec 8th, 2011 62 Pages
INTRODUCTION

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
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This is a realistic characterization, but there are also several more colourful ones. The American poet Carl Sandburg said that “Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands, and goes to work.” G.K. Chesterton, the English novelist, said even more admirably that “The one stream of poetry which is constantly flowing is slang. Every day some nameless poet weaves some fairy tracery of popular language ... All slang is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry.”1 The most important aspect of slang it that it is language use below the level of stylistically neutral language usage. The concept of stylistically neutral language is not well defined, and what is below this level must therefore also be vague.

1.1.1. Slang is language used below the neutral stylistic level

Since slang is relative, changes in neutral or formal usage will lead to changes in what is seen as slang. Many people have a feeling that the stylistic level of the mass media has fallen. Journalists do not speak and write as “properly” as they used to say. If this is true, and to some extent and in certain areas we believe it to be true, this could mean that words and phrases that used to be slang are now considered to be part of neutral or “proper” language. There are English slang words which moved from slang into neutral or even formal language. Phone, bike,