Slang Today And Yesterday Pdf
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- Slang Yesterday and Today Eric Partridge
- Slang To Day And Yesterday
- SLANG TO-DAY AND YESTERDAY BY ERIC PARTRIDGE
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Slang Yesterday and Today Eric Partridge
By Eric Partridge. Words are the very devil! Slang is easy enough to use, but very hard to write about with the facile convincingness that a subject apparently so simple would, at first sight, seem to demand. But the simplest things are often the hardest to define, certainly the hardest to discuss, for it is usually at first sight only that their simplicity is what strikes one the most forcibly.
And slang, after all, is a peculiar kind of vagabond language, always hanging on the outskirts of legitimate speech, but continually straying or forcing its way into the most respectable company. He implies that these headings probably represent four separate groups and origins but adds that, in the one strictly relevant class, some of the senses may represent independent words ; on the other hand he does not rule out the possibility that certain of the many senses of slang may be interrelated either etymologically or semantically.
The five senses approximating to that in general use since about —to the free and easy, shirtsleeves, essentially spoken language with which we are concerned—are Cant i. The Oxford definition of slang in our sense is, despite Professor G. A rather different definition, which is also to some extent complementary, is that of Mr. Fowler: the diction that results from the favourite game among the young and lively of playing with words and renaming things and actions; some invent new words, or mutilate or misapply the old, for the pleasure of novelty, and others catch up such words for the pleasure of being in the fashion.
In this specific sense—as indeed in that of a vocational jargon— slang is not recorded before the early nineteenth century; as meaning cant, whether noun or adjective, it occurs about The sling sense gains probability from two sides: the O.
Slang has, from about , been the accepted term for illegitimate colloquial speech; but even since then, especially among the lower classes, lingo has been a synonym, and so also, chiefly among the cultured and the pretentious, has argot. Now argot , being merely the French for slang, has no business to be used thus—it can rightly be applied only to French slang or French cant: and lingo properly means a simplified language that, like Beach-la-Mar and Pidgin-English, represents the distortion of say English by coloured peoples speaking English indeed but adapting it to their own phonetics and grammar.
An earlier synonym is flash , which did duty from until or so, but even in the eighteenth century it was more generally and correctly applied to the slang of criminals i. Nor, after , was slang accepted with general good grace, for in , we find Hotten protesting against the restriction of the term to those lowest words only which are used by the dangerous classes and the lowest grades of society.
As slang is used by every class, and as this fact is now everywhere recognized, the stigma once attached to the word has long since been removed; in , indeed, a foreign research-student at Cambridge could rightly say: It is impossible to acquire a thorough knowledge of English [or of any other language, for that matter] without being familiar with slang and vulgarism.
Whoever is uninitiated. An excellent, very readable book. The debt to the O. Another theory is that slang is an argotic corruption of the Fr. Slang, being the quintessence of colloquial speech, must always be related to convenience rather than to scientific laws, grammatical rules and philosophical ideals. As it originates, so it flourishes best, in colloquial speech. Among the impulses which lead to the invention of slang, Dr. Bradley remarked some years ago, the two most important seem to be the desire to secure increased vivacity and the desire to secure increased sense of intimacy in the use of language.
The most favourable conditions are those of crowding and excitement, and artificial life. Any sudden excitement or peculiar circumstance is quite sufficient to originate and set going a score of slang words , as John Camden Hotten, a publisher and lexicographer, more sinned against than sinning, noted in the excellent Short History that prefaces his valuable collection of mid-Victorian and other slang.
Its origin and usage are lit with interest if we remember one of the primary laws: slang is not used merely as a means of self-expression: it connotes personality: its coinage and circulation comes rather from the wish of the individual to distinguish himself by oddity or grotesque humor.
But the most interesting pronouncements on the origins and uses of slang are those of Mr. Mencken and M. The former is so illuminating that to paraphrase him were an impertinence. If he chooses words carefully, with a full understanding of their meaning and savour, then no word that he uses seriously will belong to slang, but if his speech is made up chiefly of terms poll-parroted, and he has no sense of their shades and limitations, then slang will bulk largely in his vocabulary.
In its origin it is nearly always respectable [comparatively! This is the history of such slang phrases as. Alfredo Niceforo, a widely travelled Italian, notes that, as in general speech, so inevitably in slang, one speaks as one judges—and one judges according to how one feels.
His opinions on this subject, together with its relation to the influence of groups, are of first-rate importance. He shows how language varies in passing from one social group to another and even in the different situations in which any one person may find himself.
For instance, children and lunatics speak very much as their emotions dictate; soldiers have a multitude of words and phrases that reflect their daily existence in barracks, on the march, in bivouac, or in the front line.
The specialization that characterizes every vocation Leads naturally to a specialized vocabulary, to the invention of new words or the re-charging of old words. Such special words and phrases become slang only when they are used outside the vocational group and then only if they change their meaning or are applied in other ways.
Motoring, aviation, and the wireless have already supplied us with a large number of slang terms. Why is slang used at all? Reasons have occurred to the writer, who, however, is not quite so fatuous as to consider that they account for every slang expression used in the past, much less every slang expression that will be used by the bright lads, sprightly lasses, and naughty old men of the future.
That all the following reasons why slang is used are either actually or potentially operative he is nevertheless as sure as a mere man can be, and he would like to add that the order in which they are set down is not so haphazard as it may seem. The motive behind this is usually self-display or snobbishness, emulation or responsiveness, delight in virtuosity. Actuated by impatience with existing terms. This deliberateness is rare save among the well-educated, Cockneys forming the most notable exception; it is literary rather than spontaneous.
In the cultured the effort is usually premeditated, while in the uncultured it is almost always unconscious when it is not rather subconscious. Children, students, lovers, members of political secret societies, and criminals in or out of prison, innocent persons in prison, are the chief exponents.
Such critics as Hotten, Mencken, and Niceforo are almost genial in their attitude towards slang, but others are scornful.
As early as J. Thomas, in My Thought Book, inveighed thus: The language of slang is the conversation of fools. Men of discretion will not pervert language to the unprofitable purposes of conversational mimicry.
The friends of literature will never adopt it, as it is actively opposed to pure and grammatical diction. Perhaps a fairer conception is that of the Merton Professor of English Language at Oxford: While slang is essentially part of familiar and colloquial speech, it is not necessarily either incorrect or vulgar in its proper place, which, as the Fowlers say, is in real life. That is, in conversation,—for, the Fowlers continue, as style is the great antiseptic, so slang is the great corrupting matter; it is perishable, and infects what is round it.
This applies mainly to authors and orators. But no real stylist, no one capable of good speaking or good writing, is likely to be harmed by the occasional employment of slang; provided that he is conscious of the fact, he can even employ it both frequently and freely without stultifying his mind, impoverishing his vocabulary, or vitiating the taste and the skill that he brings to the using of that vocabulary.
Except in formal and dignified writing and in professional speaking, a vivid and extensive slang is perhaps preferable to a jejune and meagre vocabulary of standard English; on the other hand, it will hardly be denied that, whether in writing or in speech, a sound though restricted vocabulary of standard English is preferable to an equally small vocabulary of slang, however vivid may be that slang.
The same contradictoriness applies to the various attempts to set forth the primary characteristics of slang. Greenough and Kittredge, at the beginning of their thoughtful if somewhat reactionary chapter on Slang and Legitimate Speech, say that slang is commonly made by the use of harsh, violent, or ludicrous metaphors, obscure analogies, meaningless words, and expressions derived from the less known and less esteemed vocations or customs , and, twenty pages further on, admit that it is sometimes humorous, witty, and not seldom picturesque.
In fairness, however, to the two American professors, it is to be added that they note that slang, so far from being a novelty, is the most vital aspect of language, the only speech in which lingustic process can be observed in unrestricted activity; as they remark, is no primary difference between the processes of slang and those of standard speech.
Slang may and often does fill a gap in accepted language; as J. Foreign words and slang are, as spurious ornaments, on the same level. The effect of using quotation marks with slang is merely to convert a mental into a moral weakness.
But they are very sound on the quarters from which slang may come. Taking the averagely intelligent middle-class man as the norm, they show that he can usually detect with ease such words as come from below and add that these constitute the best slang, for many such terms assume their place in the language as words that will last , and will not, like many from above , die off after a brief vogue; from the same direction, however, derive such colourless counters as nice, awful, blooming this last, by the way, is on the wane.
Words from above are less easily detected: phenomenal, epoch-making, true inwardness, psychological moment, philistine are being subjected to that use, at once over-frequent and inaccurate, which produces one kind of slang. But the average man, seeing from what exalted quarters they come, is dazzled into admiration and hardly knows them for what they are. The slang from the sides or from the centre consists of those words which, belonging at first to a profession or trade, a pursuit, a game or sport, have invaded general colloquial speech—and very often the printed page.
Among these a man is naturally less critical of what comes from his own daily concerns, that is, in his view, from the centre. These two lexicographers and grammarians acutely caution us that, in any collection of slang words and phrases, the degree of recognizability will depend largely upon whether the occupation, for example, is familiar or not, though sometimes the familiarity will disguise, and sometimes it will bring out, the slanginess.
A mine, withal a trifle conservative here and there, of dicta on good writing and correct speaking. Obviously when, at least, one thinks about the matter , slang is on various levels, the grades being numerous; innocent, cultured, vigorously racy, cheaply vulgar, healthily or disgustingly low; thoroughly—in the linguistic sense—debased; picturesque, claptrappingly repetitive, and to be merciful! Socially, slang belongs to no one class, for it is an accumulation of terms that, coming from every quarter, most people know and understand, and, in the main, it is composed of colloquialisms everywhere current.
Two unworthy, two worthy. Much of the distaste for slang felt by people of delicate taste is, however, due to the second class, which includes the ephemeral phrases fortuitously popular for a season, and then finally forgotten once for all. These mere catchwords. The other two classes of slang, he continues, stand on a different footing. They serve a purpose. Indeed, their utility is indisputable, and it was never greater [—the remark is still valid—] than it is to-day.
One of these consists of old and forgotten phrases and words, which, having long lain dormant, are now struggling again to the surface. The other consists of new words and phrases, often vigorous and expressive, but. It is the duty of slang to provide substitutes for the good words. Of this fourth class—vigorous new slang—he adds that it is what idiom was before language stiffened into literature , and quotes another and somewhat earlier American scholar of deserved repute, Lounsbury, as describing slang to be the source from which the decaying energies of speech are constantly refreshed.
This last example illustrates a very frequent and important characteristic of slang: the tendency of slang words to rise in the world ennobling, it may be called , for at fault has, within thirty years, become standard English.
This ascent is recognized by most writers on English, but we may ignore all save those who have dealt very pertinently with the subject. Buckle phrased somewhat differently: Many of these [slang] words and phrases are but serving their apprenticeship and will eventually become the active strength of our language.
Idiom is the most distinctively English or American constituent of the language, and. Current slang, being full of the most humble locutions, slyly insinuates these upstarts and outcasts into the accepted language, so that those purists who forget the plebeian, even the vulgarian, origin of so much of our pithiest slang betray a defective knowledge of the life and the soul of vital speech and vivid style. Even Dr. Johnson, who inveighed often enough against cant and low slang,—anyone who glances through his delightfully personal dictionary will quickly notice the jovial gusto with which he labels a word as low, —admitted that, historically, linguistically, philologically, no word is naturally or intrinsically meaner than another; our opinion, therefore, of words, as of other things arbitrarily and capriciously established, depends wholly upon accident or custom.
None of these phrases is accepted at present, though they differ much in their slanginess, but it is impossible to predict their standing a hundred years hence.
The same authors made a good point when they said that notable orators and writers occasionally use a slang term because they feel that its aptness excuses its lowliness, especially if it is employed as an actual or virtual quotation. Since the great British public and this applies even more forcibly to the United States rarely asks how a slang word or phrase gets into respectable company, slang profits by the fact that there is almost complete freedom in quoting, whether the source be lofty or lowly, and from the further, yet closely related, fact that the use or neglect of inverted commas is so much a matter of the degree of familiarity, that the public soon forgets whether there is a quotation or not.
But while linguistic parvenus slowly ascend even unto the throne of utter respectability, there are ancient aristocrats passing them in a sad descent to the literary depths; as Mr.
Among other tragic downfalls from high to the lowest place, the unfortunate and familiar adjectives blooming and bloody are deserving of a sympathetic mention.
Such dire descents are usually caused by a too enthusiastic adoption by the distributors of vivid phrases; they are bandied about until they lose their freshness and eligibility. Some of the terms concerned though none of those quoted above find themselves regarded as, therefore actually are, slang within a year or two.
Slang To Day And Yesterday
ESL classes and language learning textbooks taught us the traditional vocabulary and how to engage in formal discussions. But what about informal conversations? Also, there's a downloadable PDF in the end of this article with all American slang words you should know if you want to impress the natives. Luckily, there are a few resources accessible online that offer an abundance of slang words and phrases. Here are five of them:.
bpwnjfoundation.orgpe: application/pdf bpwnjfoundation.org: English bpwnjfoundation.org: Slang To Day And Yesterday. Addeddate:
SLANG TO-DAY AND YESTERDAY BY ERIC PARTRIDGE
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Written in English. A renewal of the Covenants, national and solemn league; a confession of sins, and engagement to duties; and a testimony: as they were carried on at Middle Octarara in Pensylvania, November Together with an introductory preface. Slang To-Day and Yesterday book. Read 4 reviews from the world's largest community for readers.