Chapter I. Characteristic features of Slang……………… 2
1.Feature Articles: Magical Slang: Ritual, Language and Trench Slang ofthe Western front…………………………………….2
2.Background of Cockney English………………….……….13
Chapter II. Slang and the Dictionary.…………......……… 17
3. TheBloomsbury Dictionary Of Contemporary slang…..…20
4. Slangat the Millennium…………………………………...22
5.Examples of slang………………………………………….24
Slangizms are a very interesting groupsof words. One of the characteristics of slangizm is that they are not includedinto Standard English
EG: mug = face; trap = mouth
Such words are based on metaphor, theymake speech unexpected, vivid and sometimes difficult to understand.
Slang appears as a language of asubgroup in a language community. We can speak of black-americans’ slang,teenagers’ slang, navy and army slang.Feature Articles:Magical Slang: Ritual, Language and Trench Slang of the Western Front
Unprecedented in its conditions,ferocity, and slaughter, the First World War was also unprecedented in itseffect on the psyches of the men who fought and on the languages theyspoke. Like the soldiers who spoke it, English emerged from the war, asSamuel Hynes maintains, a «damaged» language, «shorn of itshigh-rhetorical top...» (1)
French linguistic purists, led by theAcademie Francaise, vigorously denounced damaging incursions of journalisticlanguage and trench slang into standard French. (2) Only in Germany did anationalist ideology with its high rhetoric of struggle, sacrifice, andmilitary glory survive, adopted and nourished first by rightist veterans'groups and paramilitary formations, and finally institutionalised by theNational Socialists and their leader, former Frontsoldat Adolf Hitler.
But whatever damage the war may havewrought on the «high» language is, in a sense, compensated by theemergence of two new popular «languages» of great interest to thehistorian. One is the language of popular journalism; alreadywell-established in 1914, it was characterised by its own chauvinistic dictionand aggressively patriotic attitude and was the means by which most civiliansgot information about the war.
Universally excoriated by the fighting troopsas bourrage de crone (head stuffing, i.e. false stories) andHurrah-patriotismus (hurrah patriotism), journalistic prose neverthelesssignificantly shaped civilian attitudes about the war and soldiers' attitudesabout the press. (3) French troops called the official war bulletin lepetit menteur (the little liar). The other language was, of course, whatwe call trench slang, the common idiom of the front. The literate massarmies trapped in the entrenched stalemate of the First World War provided afertile medium for the development and dissemination of the special language ofthe trenches. (4)
In this essay, I intend to focus on thetwo predominant roles of slang in the context of the Western Front: itsdenotation of membership in the community of combat soldiers, and its magicalor talismanic function as the protective language of that community and itsindividual members. The selected examples are meant to be illustrativerather than exhaustive.
Among the many rhetorical and socialfunctions of slang and jargon, that of defining and delimiting a social groupby reinforcing its social, professional and often visual identity with a verbalone is broadly significant. (5)
Robert Chapman has noted that «anindividual… resorts to slang as a means of attesting membership in the groupand of dividing himself… off from the mainstream culture.» (6)
Niceforo neatly pinpoints the genesis ofslang: «sentir differement, c'est parler diffJrement; — s'occuperdifferement, c'est aussi parler differement» («to feel differently isto speak differently; — to occupy oneself differently is also to speakdifferently»). (7) The creation of a verbal identity based onoccupation and feeling is particularly marked in military society, where socialfunction, enforced separation from the civilian world, and uniform appearancealready distinguish the members of a circumscribed, hierarchical society fromoutsiders.
It would be useful at this point todifferentiate between the terms «jargon» and «slang» in amilitary context, as both exist, are sometimes commingled, and often confused.(8) By jargon I mean the language of the profession, consisting primarilyof technical terms (including acronyms) proper to the military service, whatFlexner calls «shop-talk.» (9) In current American militaryjargon, for example, the acronym PCS, which stands for Permanent Change ofStation, appears occasionally as a noun, as in «Did you have a goodPCS?» but more frequently as a verbal structure, as in «He PCSed lastmonth» or «She's PCSing in January.»
The «alphabet soup» ofacronyms, an enduring characteristic of military jargon, first appeared inbewildering array in the First World War, although some had existed earlier.(10) Military jargon is, of course, not limited to acronyms, but includessuch things as abbreviations for weapons and equipment, terms for promotion andfailure, punishments under the code and the like.
Genuine slang, on the other hand,generally eschews technical terms in favour of the renaming of objects andactions, and the invention of neologisms. Chapman remarks that slangrelies heavily on «figurative idiom… (and) inventive and poetic terms,especially metaphors.» (11) Partridge likewise signals theimportance of metaphor and figurative language of all sorts. (12)
Drawing again on current American usage,the gold oak leaves on a field-grade army officer's hat become «scrambledeggs» and the collective designation for senior officers is «brasshats» or simply «the brass,» a phrase which, along with manyothers from the two world wars, has migrated into the general vocabulary. (13)
The hats of field-grade air forceofficers are decorated with stylised clouds and bolts of lightning, universallydubbed «darts and farts.» Similarly a colonel, who wears eaglesas his insignia, is distinguished from a lieutenant colonel by being called an«eagle-colonel,» or with the fine pejorative edge present in«scrambled eggs» and «darts and farts,» a «chickencolonel.» To the disparagement implicit in such phrases, I shallshortly return.
The military proclivity for acronymsoccasionally and amusingly spills over into true slang. A famous instanceis that Second World War favourite «SNAFU,» politely rendered as«situation normal, all fouled up.» A rudimentary knowledge ofscatological language will quickly provide the ruder and more popular version.(14)
In wartime, the general store ofmilitary slang is augmented by a special subspecies — the slang of combattroops.
Such troops use the general slang butemploy, in addition, a vocabulary unique to their situation. The slang ofcombat troops distances its users from the safe, punctilious (and byimplication, cowardly) rear echelons, while concomitantly reinforcing theseparate identity and moral superiority of the combat units. (15)
Anyone familiar with the literature ofWorld War I will immediately recall the pervasive «us vs. them»mentality of front and rear and the suffocating smugness of staffofficers. The front line troops psychologically and linguistically occupiedthe moral high ground of courage, suffering and sacrifice, leaving the rear tohold the low ground of shirking and blind adherence to form and tradition atthe cost of lives. Franz Schauwecker wrote that there was a crack in thestructure of the army that «ran parallel to the front somewhere justoutside the range of enemy fire.» (16)
Before examining the characteristiclanguage of the trench soldiers of World War I, let us briefly review thephysical and psychological stresses inherent in the static trench systems ofthe Western Front, and the ways in which the troops coped with thosepressures. In the forty years of European peace that followed theFranco-Prussian war of 1870, the general staffs of the armies analysed thecampaigns, drew their conclusions, and plotted their strategies for the rematchthat most were convinced was inevitable.
Unlikely as it may seem, the generals ofvictorious Germany and defeated France arrived at the same conclusions: onlytotal offensive — offensive B l'outrance — could ensure victory. Whilethe Germans planned the von Schlieffen offensive, Revanche became the motiveforce behind French military planning in the years between the wars. (17)
With all sides (including the British,despite their experience in the Boer War) committed to the theory of theoffensive, the sudden concretion of the long-awaited war into defensiveentrenchment baffled even the generals. In their obsession with theoffensive, and with its psychological component of troop morale, they had failedto recognize that the enormous technological advances in weaponry worked moreto the benefit of defence than of offence. The Western Front was shapedby artillery, the machine gun, barbed wire, and the spade. As early asOctober of 1914, a prescient young German officer wrote to a friend that
(t)he brisk, merry war to which we haveall looked forward for years has taken an unforeseen turn. Troops are murderedwith machines, horses have almost become superfluous… The most importantpeople are the engineers… the theories of decades are shown to be worthless.(18)
Unfortunately for the miserable troopsmired in the wet, cold, and filthy trenches, the generals refused to accept thedeadly efficacy of the defensive weapons, and spent the first three years of thewar mounting one costly frontal assault after another, until the abortiveNivelle offensive of May 1917 precipitated the mutiny of the French army andended what J.M. Winter calls «the great slaughter.» (19)
What, then, was the effect of trenchwarfare on the soldiers? First, the experience of war was an initiatoryone. That is, the experience is, per se, so remarkable that no one whohas not experienced it can ever share it or understand it. (20)
For Aldington soldiers were «mensegregated from the world in this immense barbaric tumult.» (21)«Ein Geschlecht wie das unsere ist noch nie in die Arena der Erdegeschritten,» («A generation such as ours has never before steppedinto the arena of the earth») proclaimed Ernst Junger. (22)
This «initiate mentality»among combat troops was immeasurably strengthened in World War I by thecharacteristics of the fighting, the first of which was a tactical stasis thatimposed physical inertia on the front line troops. The soldiers wereliterally immobilised in a maze of trenches, subjected to severe shelling andregular sniping, to say nothing of the rigours of outdoor life in northernEurope, with virtually no reliable protection from any of them. It islittle wonder that the most common metaphor for the trench system, and byextension the war itself, was the labyrinth, a true «initiatoryunderground.» (23)
It was not lost on German troops thatthe root word of der Schhtzengraben (trench) was das Grab, a grave. InOtto Dix's lost painting, Der Schhtzengraben, the trench becomes a grotesquegrave filled with horribly mutilated bodies.
The group identity of the«troglodytes» (to borrow Fussell's term) emerges in the strikingspecial language of trench slang. In his preface to Dechelette's dictionary,Georges Lentre recounts hearing a conversation between two soldiers thatappeared to be mutually intelligible, but which he foundincomprehensible. (24)
Against the incomprehension of the rearand the patriotic drivel of the press, the troops erected a linguistic wallthat Jacques Meyer perceptively calls «le language d'unefranc-mahonnerie» («a language of free-masons»). (25)
The sense of identity and community isevident in what the soldiers called themselves. The usual two-week stintin the front and reserve lines tended to leave soldiers filthy, lousy,unshaven, and exhausted. (26) For the Germans, a front line infantrymanwas a Frontschwein, a front pig. For the French, he was a poilu,literally a hairy beast, as the noun poil is used primarily for the hair ofanimals. Dauzat points out that the term implies more than just anunshaven man, because the poilu is hairy, as he delicately puts it, «aubon endroit,» — a traditional symbol of virility. (27)
In neither case is the animal referencepejorative. Bill Mauldin's World War II cartoons of «GI Joe»stand in the same tradition of affectionate commonality, all contempt reservedfor those who are not a part of the community of combat.
The sense of community felt by thecombat troops (a bond particularly marked among the Germans) was reinforced bythe mass of war material thrown against them.
The Germans, in fact, use the phrase«war of material» (Materialschlacht) instead of «war ofattrition» for the 1916-1918 period.
Front line soldiers often felt that theyhad more in common with the enemy soldiers in the trenches opposite than withtheir own rear echelon troops and the people at home. That sense of acommon bond of suffering is reflected in the slang names for opposing and evenallied forces. With the exception of boche, and perhaps «Hun,»to which I shall return, epithets for opposing forces were generally based on astereotypical national name or characteristic or a deformed foreign phrase, andwere largely inoffensive.
On the German side, the favoured namesfor the French were Franzmann and several names based on germanised Frenchphrases: Parlewuhs (parlez-vous), Wulewuhs (voulez-vous), Olala, and the verypopular Tulemong (tous le monde). (28) For British soldiers, the Germans,like the French, used «Tommy,» although naturally deforming thepronunciation.
English soldiers employed a variety ofepithets for the Germans. «Fritz» was popular early in the war,with «Jerry» favoured later. According to Brophy,«Hun,» a journalistic creation, was used almost exclusively byofficers, as was the borrowed French «Boche.»
Although the French used Fritz as well,Boche was the term of choice. Its etymology is complex and uncertain,(29) but its pejorative implications of obstinacy and generally uncivilisedbehaviour are undeniable. The Germans loathed the word and considered ita profound insult. Bergmann claimed that the Germans used no suchderogatory terms, for «wir Deutschen wissen uns zum Glhck frei von…kindischen Hass» («we Germans know ourselves to be happily free fromsuch childish hatred»), but Dauzat disputes that. (30)
The unusually derogatory nature of Bochemay reflect French bitterness over the defeat of 1870 and the invasion of1914. Dauzat insists that Boche is a «mot de l'arripre»(«a word of the rear»), and that the soldiers preferred Fritz, Pointu(for the pre-1916 German spiked helmets) or even Michel for artillerymen.(31) Nevertheless, the other collective epithets suggest, in theirgeneral mildness, that the front line troops considered enemy soldiers lessdangerous than the men to their rear.
Entrapment, immobility, and alienationled to what Leed has called «the breakdown of the offensivepersonality.» (32) Instead of being a mobile offensive warrior, thesoldier of trench warfare was «humble, patient, enduring, an individualwhose purpose was to survive a war that was a 'dreadful resignation, arenunciation, a humiliation.'» (33)
A young German soldier, JohannesPhilippson, wrote home in the summer of 1917 that «only genuineself-command is any use to me.» (34) French historian Marc Blochdescribed the feelings of his troops in December 1914: «Trench warfare hadbecome so slow, so dreary, so debilitating to body and soul that even the leastbrave among us wholeheartedly welcomed the prospect of an attack.» (35)
How, then, could soldiers combat thesoul-killing existence in the trenches and the ever-present fear of death andwounds? One method was through a reliance on talismans and rituals. As Fussell has noted «no front-line soldier or officer was without hisamulet and every tunic pocket became a reliquary… so urgent was the need thatno talisman was too absurd.» (36)
Luck also depended on ritual — on doingsome things and refraining from others, doing things in threes for example, orGraves' conviction that his survival was due to the preservation of hisvirginity. (37) Another form of talismanic protection was provided by theuse of slang. Niceforo defines «magical slang» («l'argotmagique») as the language used by individuals when they fear (for reasonshaving a magical basis) to call things and people by their real names. (38)
Slang allowed the troops to create aritualised discourse, fully intelligible only to the initiates, that suppressedfear by avoiding any mention by name of death, wounds, weapons, and theauthorities whose orders could expose a soldier to those dangers. Inshort, the trench slang of World War I served a protective function by creatinga language that familiarised, trivialised, and disparaged those objects andpersons posing the greatest danger to the individual soldier.
One of the most important taboos in thelanguage of soldiers was any mention of death. While the author of anovel or memoir may state in a narrative capacity that someone was killed orwounded, such statements are nearly non-existent in the dialogues ofsoldiers. Niceforo notes that the taboo against mentioning death is verywidespread, even in modern cultures. (39)
The taboo is particularly strong whendeath is omnipresent. A «Tommy» might say «He's gonewest» or «He's hopped it.» The Germans simply said Er istaus (He's gone, done for). (40) A poilu remarked that his comrade hadearned la croix de bois, the wooden cross, probably an ironic formation oncroix de guerre. The important decorations for valour on all sides in theFirst World War were in the shape of a cross, providing ample scope formetaphoric formations.
As an interesting comment on theinsignificance of medals to common soldiers, German Frontsoldaten scathinglycalled all decorations Zinnwaren, (tinware), while the French referred to themas batterie de cuisine (cookware).
Wounds were handled in much the sameway. British and German troops had similar expressions for desirablewounds, just serious enough to ensure that the wounded man would be evacuatedhome. For the British, such a wound was a «Blighty,» a termderived from a Hindu word meaning a foreign country and taken up by Britishtroops 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 onhome ground, une fine blessure, (the adjective weakens the gravity of thenoun), nevertheless ensured evacuation and convalescence far from the front.
The tendency to familiarise andtrivialise is most apparent in the names for weapons. In the age of theMaterialschlacht, the terrifying killing and maiming power of high explosivesposed the greatest threat to infantrymen on the Western Front, followed byrifle and machine-gun fire. The distant impersonality of the killing (onescarcely ever saw the enemy), and its unpredictability made it particularlythreatening.
Trivializing names for weapons and theirprojectiles reduced the psychological sense of danger. Bergmann notesthat the tradition of naming heavy guns reaches at least to the earlyseventeenth century. (41) The soldiers of the Great War, faced with themost destructive technology then known, were not behindhand. All thecombatants 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 calibreswere 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 nameFeldhase (field hare). The French called their 75 Julot, which seems tohave been one of the few French names in general circulation for heavyartillery pieces.
The French trench mortar, a squat,blunt-nosed gun with angled supports, was called «le crapouillot,» aword formed from «crapaud» (toad), either from its shape or the factthat its shells fired almost vertically and then dropped into the opposingtrench line, much like the hop of a toad. Bergmann has correctly assessedthe effect of naming guns for people (especially women) and animals: "...mansucht auch auf diesem Wege sich die unheimlichen Kriegsmaschinen n@her zubringen, sie sich vertrauter zu machen und ihre Gefahr gleichsam geringererscheinen zu lassen" («in this way one seeks to bring the sinisterwar machines closer, to make them more familiar and, as it were, to let theirdanger appear slighter»). (43)
The British seem to have beendisinclined to name their guns, but all three languages are richly furnishedwith names for the projectiles, probably because ordinary infantrymen tended tobe on the receiving end. Because of the large quantity of black smokeproduced by the explosion, a heavy shell was called a «Jack Johnson»,or a «coal-box.»
In French, a similar shell was un grosnoir, and one that exploded with greenish smoke was un pernod, named after thepopular drink. Others were saucissons (sausages), sacs B terre (sandbags) and marmites, named after the large, deep cooking pot of the samename. Germans called a heavy shell an Aschpott (ash pot) or aMarmeladeneimer (jam pot). The British trivialised the German minethrower — the Minnenwerfer — by calling its whistling shells «singingMinnies,» thus reducing a dangerous weapon to the status of a harmlessgirl. (44)
Similarly, the German hand grenades,which had handles, quickly became known as «potato mashers,» whichthey did, indeed, resemble. The oval hand grenades of France and Britainwere called les tortues (turtles) by the French and Ostereier (Easter eggs) bythe Germans. A German discus-shaped hand grenade was a NhrnbergerLebkuchen, the famous gingerbread Christmas cookie. In all of thesecases, the movement is to trivialise and familiarise the weapons by noting aresemblance to something common, familiar, and above all, harmless.
The racial and sexual innuendo inherentin several of the slang names (i.e. Jack Johnson, Big Bertha) is part of thesame pattern and reflects the attitudes of the period; it is not like thedeliberately derogatory and ironic slang used for the rear echelons, as weshall see.
The front line troops also displayed thegreatest inventiveness in their slang names for infantry weapons, colouring theeuphemism with an ironic twist. Take, for example, the machine gun, themost dangerous infantry weapon. The Germans generally used the acronym MGfor Maschinengewehr, although Stottertante (stuttering aunt) and Nuhmaschine(sewing machine) were current. (45) The British called their own machineguns Lewis guns and the enemy's Maxim guns, named for their inventors.
But for the poilu, the machine gunbecame un moulin B cafe — a coffee mill — first because the early gatling-guntypes were hand-cranked, and secondly for the sound they made. In anyevent, the gun was reduced to being a familiar household object in everydayuse. Later in the war irony took over, and the machine gun was alsocalled la machine B decoudre — a machine to rip open seams, ironically formedon machine B coudre (sewing machine). The verb decoudre also denotes theaction of a horned animal ripping open its attackers, giving the phrase asinister undertone.
But the cleverest French slang involvesthe bayonet. The French army had succumbed to a veritable cult of thebayonet in the period before the war. It was regarded as the infantryweapon par excellence, the embodiment of the offensive spirit, and the bayonetcharge as the surest indication of military elan among foot soldiers — theinfantry equivalent of a cavalry charge.
In the realities of trench combat, asJean Norton Cru has shown, the bayonet, despite its sinister appearance andexalted reputation, was little used and produced minor wounds in comparison tothe 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 amongcivilians than among soldiers. (47) The bayonet was known as lafourchette (the fork), and le cure-dents (the toothpick), as well as atire-Boche and a tourne-Boche. In the last cases Boche, as the generalslang term for the Germans, is substituted into existing phrases.
The former comes from tire-bouchon, acorkscrew, possibly a reference to the twisting movement that soldiers weretaught to use in a bayonet thrust. The latter, tourne-boche, is formedfrom tournebroche, a kitchen spit for roasting meat and fowl in the fireplace.
One of the most striking characteristicsof slang is its inclination toward degradation rather than elevation, whatPartridge following Carnoy has called dysphemism. (48) Niceforocalls it «l'esprit de degradation et de depreciation,» («thespirit of degradation and depreciation») and goes on to speak of slang asa 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 ofrebellion allowed soldiers at war. While most mispronunciations of Frenchplace names were probably just that, a few are so wonderfully ironic that theymust have been deliberate, such as the German deformation of Neufchatel toNeuschrapnell (new shrapnel). (50)
Fear, and the hatred it spawned, wasdirected above all toward the «powers that be,» the perfidious andmurderous 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 ormilitary, 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 andvegetal metaphors, constituting a figurative vilification of intelligence,courage, and manhood.
The conviction that their lives were notvalued emerges in numerous guises in the slang, including slang used for food, whichwas, naturally, a major preoccupation of troops who were often badly fed. The men exercised their traditional right to grumble about the food and createdisparaging epithets to describe it, a custom going back to the«grognards» of the Napoleonic Wars and beyond, and certainlycontinuing to our own time.
One of the staple rations in World War Iwas 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 sowell that they rarely returned from a trench raid without some, especiallysince German rations worsened as the war lengthened and the allied blockade cutoff German resources.
By 1916, the staple of the Germansoldier's diet was a mixture of dried vegetables, mostly beans, that theFrontsoldaten called Drahtverhau (barbed wire). Other German culinarydelights included Stroh und Lehm (straw and mud — yellow peas with sauerkraut),and Schrapnellsuppe (shrapnel soup — undercooked pea or bean soup).
Jam, essential for softening stalebread, was Heldenbutter (hero's butter), Wagenschmiere (axle grease), andKaiser-Wilhelm-Ged@chtnis-Schmiere (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Spread). (52) Someof these terms may refer specifically to the notorious turnip jam that becamestandard issue after the blockade and crop failures created severeshortages. Spread on ersatz bread made with sawdust and other fillers, itwas neither appetizing nor nourishing.
The French did not share their enemy'sor ally's taste for «Bully». They referred to it as singe,(monkey), and boTte B grimaces, for the grimaces it produced. Otherregular items in the French soldier's diet included schrapnells (undercookedpeas or beans), and lentils, known as punaises (bugs).
They called a stew a rata, a shortenedform of ratatouille, which in its general sense refers to a stew, not merelythe vegetable stew which it designates in modern French. Rata however,also suggests the verb ratatiner (to shrivel or dry up), which may be a remarkon the quality of army cooking.
The use of slang as insult, as defensiveand offensive weapon, reached its peak in the front line soldier's contempt forrear echelon soldiers and for civilians. The universal distain for thestaffs, soldiers and officers alike, in their relatively safe and shelteredjobs, surfaces in all three languages with vitriolic implications of cowardice,greed, and self-seeking.
In the British army, staff officers weredistinguished by the wearing of bright red shoulder tabs and hat bands. The colour constituted a visible symbol that the wearer did not belong to thecolourless khaki and field-grey world of the front, where distinguishing markswere abolished because they made good targets for snipers. The frontlinetroops soon dubbed the tabs «The Red Badge of Funk.» (53) Alongthis line, one of the trench newspapers provided the following definition of«military terms»:
DUDS — These are of two kinds. A shell onimpact
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 lessobvious in the French and German terms for staff officers, but the scorn isdeepened by the use of animal references. In the German Frontschwein,used for the front soldiers, Schwein was an expression of community andcommonality, almost of endearment.
But the equivalent term for headquarterssoldiers, 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 evenreferred to the Etappenschweine as «bellies on legs.» (55)
The French slang is inventivelypejorative. For them, the headquarters sergeant was a chien de quartier,a headquarters dog. The choice of animal is significant, as chien is abroadly-used pejorative in French, common in such phrases as chien de temps (badweather), chien de vie (a dog's life) and Ltre chien (to be stingy).
The term in widest use for someone whohad a safe job was embusquJ, whose first meaning is someone lying inambush. The word consequently carries connotations both of hiding and,worse, of betrayal.
Another term, planquJ, has the originalmeaning of lying flat, ie. safely out of the line of fire; a similar term isassiettes plates (flat plates). The most insulting epithet is theopposite of poilu, JpilJ (someone who has been depilitated), implying the lossof the vaunted courage and virility of the poilu.
High ranking officers, invariably staffofficers, since the troops rarely saw anyone above the rank of captain, werereduced to lJgumes (vegetables) and generals to grosses lJgumes (big vegetables). A brigadier's stripes of rank were sardines, suggesting in French, as inEnglish, a small, smelly fish.
In conclusion then, the uniqueconditions of the First World War (a war of defensive weapons led by generalsobsessed with offensives) engendered a level of psychological stress in thecombatants hitherto unknown in Europe. Along with talisman and ritual,the slang of the trenches provided a stylised discourse for the initiates ofthe labyrinth, through which they could define themselves as initiates, andsimultaneously protect themselves from the constant awareness of their horrificsituation.
As John Brophy has said of Great Warsoldiers' songs, the slang may not have diminished the soldier's danger, but it«may well have reduced the emotional distress caused by fear, and aidedhim, after the experience, to pick his uncertain way back to sanityagain.» (56)Background of CockneyEnglish:
Due to the fact that London is both thepolitical capital and the largest city within England, Wells, (1982b) doesn’tfind it surprising that it’s also the country’s «linguistic center ofgravity.» Cockney represents the basilectal end of the London accent andcan be considered the broadest form of London local accent.(Wells 1982b) Ittraditionally refers only to specific regions and speakers within the city.While many Londoners may speak what is referred to as «popularLondon» (Wells 1982b) they do not necessarily speak Cockney. The popularLondoner accent can be distinguished from Cockney in a number of ways, and canalso be found outside of the capital, unlike the true Cockney accent.
The term Cockney refers to both theaccent as well as to those people who speak it? The etymology of Cockney haslong been discussed and disputed. One explanation is that «Cockney»literally means cock's egg, a misshapen egg such as sometimes laid by younghens. It was originally used when referring to a weak townsman, opposed to thetougher countryman and by the 17th century the term, through banter, came tomean a Londoner (Liberman, 1996). Today's natives of London, especially in itsEast End use the term with respect and pride — `Cockney Pride'.)
Cockney is characterized by its ownspecial vocabulary and usage, and traditionally by its own development of«rhyming slang.» Rhyming slang, is still part of the true Cockneyculture even if it is sometimes used for effect. More information on the way itworks can be found under the Cockney English features section.
Geography of CockneyEnglish:
London, the capital of England, issituated on the River Thames, approximately 50 miles north of the EnglishChannel, in the south east section of the country. It is generally agreed, thatto be a true Cockney, a person has to be born within hearing distance of thebells of St. Mary le Bow, Cheapside, in the City of London. This traditionalworking-class accent of the region is also associated with other suburbs in theeastern section of the city such as the East End, Stepney, Hackney, ShoreditchPoplar and Bow.Sociolinguistic issuesof Cockney English:
The Cockney accent is generallyconsidered one of the broadest of the British accents and is heavilystimatized. It is considered to epitomize the working class accents ofLondoners and in its more diluted form, of other areas. The area and itscolorful characters and accents have often become the foundation for British«soap operas» and other television specials. Currently, the BBC isshowing one of the most popular soaps set in this region, «EastEnders» and the characters’ accents and lives within this televisionprogram provide wonderful opportunities for observers of language and culture.Features of CockneyEnglish:
Some of the more characteristic featuresof the Cockney accent include the following:
Thisaffects the lexical set mouth vowel.
Wells(1982b) believes that it is widely agreed that the «mouth» vowel is a«touchstone for distinguishing between „true Cockney“ andpopular London» and other more standard accents. Cockney usage wouldinclude monophthongization of the word mouth
mouth= mauf />ratherthan mouth />
Wells (1982b) describes the glottal stopas also particularly characteristic of Cockney and can be manifested indifferent ways such as «t» glottalling in final position. A 1970’sstudy of schoolchildren living in the East End found /p,t,k/ «almost invariablyglottalized» in final position.
cat = /> up = /> sock = />
It can also manifest itself as a bare />as therealization of word internal intervocalic /t/
Waterloo = Wa’erloo /> City = Ci’y /> A drink ofwater = A drin' a wa'er /> A little bit of bread with a bitof butter on it = A li'le bi' of breab wiv a bi' of bu'er on i'. />
As would be expected, an «EstuaryEnglish» speaker uses fewer glottal stops for t or d than a«London» speaker, but more than an RP speaker. However, there aresome 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 beginningof certain words is heard often, but it’s certainly heard more in Cockney, andin accents closer to Cockney on the continuum between that and RP. The usage isstrongly stigmatized by teachers and many other standard speakers.
house = ‘ouse
hammer = ‘ammer
Another very well known characteristicof Cockney is th fronting which involves the replacement of the dentalfricatives, />and/>bylabiodentals [f] and [v] respectively.
thin = fin />
brother = bruvver />
three = free />
bath = barf />
dinner = dinna />
marrow= marra />
The voice quality of Cockney has beendescribed as typically involving «chest tone» rather than «headtone» and being equated with «rough and harsh» sounds versus thevelvety smoothness of the Kensington or Mayfair accents spoken by those inother more upscale areas of London.
· CockneyRhyming Slang
Cockney English is also characterized byits own special vocabulary and usage in the form of «cockney rhymingslang». The way it works is that you take a pair of associated words wherethe second word rhymes with the word you intend to say, then use the first wordof 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 notused, among speakers of other accents.
«apples and pears» – stairs
«plates of meat» – feet
There are others, however, that becomeestablished with the changing culture.
«John Cleese» – cheese
«John Major» – pager
Numerous examples and usage of rhymingslang can be found online. See Note 2 for information.
Slang and theDictionary
Slang… an attempt of common humanityto escape from bald literalism, and express itself illimitably… thewholesome fermentation or eructation of those processes eternally active inlanguage, by which froth and specks are thrown up, mostly to pass away, thoughoccasionally to settle and permanently crystallise.
Walt Whitman, 1885
What is slang?
Most of us think that we recogniseslang when we hear it or see it, but exactly how slang is defined and whichterms should or should not be listed under that heading continue to be thesubject of debate in the bar-room as much as in the classroom or universityseminar. To arrive at a working definition of slang the first edition of theBloomsbury Dictionary of Contemporary Slang approached the phenomenon from twoslightly different angles. Firstly, slang is a style category within thelanguage which occupies an extreme position on the spectrum of formality. Slangis 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 inconversation with strangers … So slang enforces intimacy. It often performs animportant social function which is to include into or exclude from the intimatecircle, using forms of language through which speakers identify with orfunction within social sub-groups, ranging from surfers, schoolchildren andyuppies, to criminals, drinkers and fornicators. These remain the essentialfeatures of slang at the end of the 1990s, although its extreme informality maynow 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 whichhave been used to delimit slang, but these may often be the result of prejudiceand misunderstanding and not percipience. Slang has been referred to again andagain as ‘illegitimate’, ‘low and disreputable’ and condemned by seriouswriters as ‘a sign and a cause of mental atrophy’(Oliver Wendell Holmes), ‘theadvertisement of mental poverty’(James C. Fernal). Its in-built unorthodoxy hasled 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 andlexicographers cannot (or at least, should not) stigmatise words in the waythat society may stigmatise the users of those words and, looked atobjectively, slang is no more reprehensible than poetry, with which it has muchin common in its creative playing with the conventions and mechanisms oflanguage, its manipulation of metonymy, synechdoche, irony, its wit andinventiveness. In understanding this, and also that slang is a natural productof those ‘processes eternally active in language’, Walt Whitman was ahead ofhis time.
More recently some writers (Hallidaybeing an influential example) have claimed that the essence of slang is that itis language used in conscious opposition to authority. But slang does not haveto be subversive; it may simply encode a shared experience, celebrate a commonoutlook which may be based as much on (relatively) innocent enjoyment (by, forinstance, schoolchildren, drinkers, sports fans, Internet-users) as on illicitactivities. Much slang, in fact, functions as an alternative vocabulary,replacing standard terms with more forceful, emotive or interesting versionsjust 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 adefining characteristic, other experts have seized upon the rapid turnover ofslang words and announced that this is the key element at work; that slang isconcerned with faddishness and that its here-today-gone-tomorrow components areungraspable and by implication inconsequential. Although novelty and innovationare very important in slang, a close examination of the whole lexicon revealsthat, as Whitman had noted, it is not necessarily transient at all. The wordpunk, for example, has survived in the linguistic underground since theseventeenth century and among the slang synonyms for money — dosh, ackers,spondulicks, rhino, pelf — which were popular in the City of London in the1990s are many which are more than a hundred years old. A well-known word likecool in its slang sense is still in use (and has been adopted by otherlanguages, too), although it first appeared around eighty years ago.
Curiously, despite the public’sincreasing fascination for slang, as evinced in newspaper and magazine articlesand radio programmes, academic linguists in the UK have hitherto shunned it asa field of study. This may be due to a lingering conservatism, or to the factthat it is the standard varieties of English that have to be taught, butwhatever the reasons the situation is very different elsewhere. In the US and Australiathe study of slang is part of the curriculum in many institutions, in France,Spain, Holland, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe slang, and especially the slangof English, is the subject of more and more research projects and studenttheses; in all these places slang is discussed in symposia and in learnedjournals, while in Russia, China and Japan local editions of British andAmerican slang dictionaries can be found on school bookshelves and inuniversity libraries.
The first glossaries or lexicons ofEuropean slang on record were lists of the verbal curiosities used by thievesand ne’er-do-wells which were compiled in Germany and France in the fifteenthcentury. A hundred years later the first English collections appeared under thetitles The Hye Waye to the Spytell House, by Copland, Fraternite of Vacabondes,by Awdeley, and Caveat for Common Cursetours, by Harman. Although dramatistsand pamphleteers of seventeenth-century England made spirited use of slang intheir works, it was not until the very end of the 1600s that the next importantcompilation, the first real dictionary of slang, appeared. This was A NewDictionary 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 Grosepublished the first edition of his Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue,the most important contribution to slang lexicography until John CamdenHotten’s Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant and Vulgar Words, 1859, which wasovertaken its turn by Farmer and Henley’s more sophisticated Slang and itsAnalogues in 1890. All these were published in Britain and it was the NewZealander Eric Partridge’s single-handed masterwork A Dictionary of Slang andUnconventional English, also published in London, in 1937, that, despite itslack of citations and sometimes eccentric etymologies, became the yardstick ofslang scholarship at least until the arrival of more rigorously organisedcompendiums from the USA in the 1950s. Since then several larger referenceworks have been published, usually confining themselves to one geographicalarea and based mainly on written sources, together with a number of smaller,often excellent specialist dictionaries dealing with categories such as navalslang, Glaswegian slang, rhyming slang, the argot of police and criminals andthe jargon of finance and high technology.
The BloomsburyDictionary Of Contemporary Slang
The Bloomsbury Dictionary ofContemporary Slang was first produced with the idea of combining theenthusiasms and instincts of a user of slang — someone who had been part of thesubcultures and milieux where this language variety has flourished ( and in laterlife still ventures into clubs, bars, music festivals, football matches and, onoccasion, homeless shelters) — with the methods of the modern lexicographer(earlier work on the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English being aparticular influence) and applied linguist. The first edition set out to recordthe 6,000 or so key terms and 15,000-odd definitions which formed the core ofworldwide English language slang from 1950 to 1990: the new, updated edition,published in Autumn 1997, extends the time-frame almost to the millennium andexpands the number of entries by two thousand, losing a few obscure, doubtfullyattested or just plain uninteresting terms in the process. The dictionary aimsto pick up the elusive and picturesque figures of speech that really are in useout there in the multiple anglophone speech communities, and many terms whichappear in its pages have never been recorded before. In keeping with the modernprinciples of dictionary-making, the headwords which are listed here are definedas far as possible in natural, discursive language. The modern dictionaryideally moves beyond mere definition and tries to show how a term functions inthe language, who uses it and when and why, what special associations orovertones it may have, perhaps even how it is pronounced. Where possible ahistory of the word and an indication of its origin will be included and itsusage illustrated by an authentic citation or an invented exemplary phrase orsentence.
As with all similar dictionaries, theBloomsbury volume is based to some extent on consulting written sources such asnewspapers, magazines, comic books, novels and works of non-fiction. Othersecondary sources of slang are TV and radio programmes, films and song lyrics.Existing glossaries compiled by researchers, by journalists and by Internetenthusiasts were also checked, but treated, like fictional texts andbroadcasts, with caution; investigators may be misled by their informants and,as society becomes more self-conscious in its treatment of new and unorthodoxlanguage, varieties of so-called slang appear that are only partly authentic,such as the gushing 'teen-talk' (a variety of journalese) appearing in UKmagazines like Just Seventeen, My Guy or Sugar directed by twenty- andthirty-something journalists at their much younger readers, or the argotdeveloped 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 nothingnew; Damon Runyon, Raymond Chandler and P. G. Wodehouse all indulged in it, asdid British TV comedy writers for Porridge, Minder, Only Fools and Horses,etc., over the last three decades. For the Bloomsbury dictionary terms havebeen admitted if they can be verified from two or more sources, thereby, sadly,shutting out examples of idiolect (one person's private language), restrictedsociolects (terms shared by very small groups) and nonce terms (one-offcoinages).
Any description of slang that is basedpurely on secondary or written sources (and most still are) cannot hope to dojustice to a language which is primarily transmitted orally. Slang terms mayexist in spoken usage for many years, even for centuries, before being writtendown; some are never committed to paper, so there is an absolute need for work‘in the field’ with primary sources; eavesdropping on and interviewing theusers of slang themselves, and, where they are not able to report objectivelyon the words and phrases they are using, their neighbours, parents, colleagues,fellow-students and friends must be mobilised. This is the most exciting partof lexicography, if sometimes the most risky. The modern language researchersgoing undercover to listen in on conversations or setting up networks ofinformants at street-level can imagine themselves as successors to thepioneering anthropologists of the last century, rather than ‘harmless drudges’(Dr Johnson's memorable definition of the lexicographer) toiling alone in dustylibraries or staring at flickering screens.
Slang at the Millennium
The traditional breeding grounds ofslang have always been secretive, often disenfranchised social groups andclosed institutions with their rituals and codes. This has not changed,although the users in question have. Where once it was the armed forces, thepublic schools and Oxbridge that in Britain dominated socially andlinguistically, now it is the media, the comprehensive playground and the newuniversities which exercise most influence on popular language: the office, thetrading-floor and the computer-room have replaced the workshop, the factory andthe street-market as nurturing environments for slang. The street gang and theprison, whence came nearly all the ‘cant’ that filled the early glossaries,still provide a great volume of slang, as do the subcultures of rave, technoand jungle music, crusties and new agers, skaters and snowboarders. Footballmetaphors and in-jokes have long since ousted the cricketing imagery ofyesteryear. 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 toflourish in Britain and Australia, replenished by succeeding generations, andthe even older parlyaree (a romance/romany/yiddish lingua franca) lingers on incorners of London’s theatre-land and gay community. The effect of the media andmore recently of the Internet means that slang in English can no longer be seenas a set of discrete localised dialects, but as a continuum or a bundle ofoverlapping vocabularies stretching from North America and the Caribbeanthrough Ireland and the UK on to South Africa, South and East Asia andAustralasia. Each of these communities has its own peculiarities of speech, butinstantaneous communications and the effect of English language movies, TVsoaps and music means that there is a core of slang that is common to all ofthem and into which they can feed. The feeding in still comes mainly from theUS, and to a lesser extent Britain and Australia; slang from other areas andthe slang of minorities in the larger communities has yet to make muchimpression on global English, with one significant exception. That is the blackslang which buzzes between Brooklyn, Trenchtown, Brixton and Soweto before, inmany cases, crossing over to pervade the language of the underworld, teenagers( — it is the single largest source for current adolescent slang in both the UKand US), the music industry and showbusiness. Within one country previouslyobscure local slang can become nationally known, whether spread by the bushtelegraph that has always linked schools and colleges or by the media:Brookside, Coronation Street, Rab C. Nesbitt and Viz magazine have all helpedin disseminating British regionalisms. This mixing-up of national and localmeans that past assumptions about usage may no longer hold true: the earnestEnglish traveller, having learned that fag and bum mean something else in NorthAmerica, now finds that in fashionable US campus-speak they can actually meancigarette and backside. In the meantime the alert American in Britain learnsthat cigarettes have become tabs or biffs and backside is now often rendered bythe Jamaican batty .
Speakers of English everywhere seem tohave become more liberal, admitting more and more slang into theirunselfconscious everyday speech; gobsmacked, O.T.T ., wimp and sorted can nowbe heard among the respectable British middle-aged; terms such as horny andbullshit which were not so long ago considered vulgar in the extreme are nowheard regularly on radio and television, while former taboo terms, notably theubiquitous British shag, occur even in the conversation of young ladies. InOakland, California, the liberalising process reached new extremes late in 1996with the promotion of so-called Ebonics: black street speech given equalstatus with the language of the dominant white culture.
The greatest number of new termsappearing in the new edition of the dictionary are used by adolescents andchildren, the group in society most given to celebrating heightened sensations,new experiences and to renaming the features of their world, as well as mockinganyone less interesting or younger or older than themselves. But the rigid generationgap which used to operate in the family and school has to some extentdisappeared. Children still distance themselves from their parents and otherauthority figures by their use of a secret code, but the boomers — the babyboom generation — grew up identifying themselves with subversion and liberalismand, now that they are parents in their turn, many of them are unwilling eitherto disapprove of or to give up the use of slang, picking up their children'swords (often much to the latters' embarrassment) and evolving their ownfamily-based language ( helicopters, velcroids, howlers, chap-esses areexamples).
The main obsessions among slang users ofall ages, as revealed by word counts, have not changed; intoxication by drinkor 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, outtrouting, on the sniff and jam, lam, slam and the rest — and the many vogueterms of approval that go in and out of fashion among the young (in Britainace, brill, wicked and phat have given way to top, mint, fit and dope which arethemselves on the way out at the time of writing). The number of nicknames formoney, bollers, boyz, beer-tokens, squirt and spon among them, has predictablyincreased since the materialist 1980s and adolescent concern withidentity-building and status-confirming continues to produce a host ofdismissive epithets for the unfortunate misfit, some of which, like wendy,spod, licker, are confined to the school environment while others, such astrainspotter, anorak and geek, have crossed over into generalised usage.
Other obsessions are more curious; is itthe North American housewife’s hygiene fetish which has given us more than adozen terms (dust-bunny, dust-kitty, ghost-turd, etc.) for the balls of flufffound on an unswept floor, where British English has only one (beggars velvet)? Why do speakers in post-industrial Britain and Australia still need a dozenor more words to denote the flakes of dung that hang from the rear of sheep andother mammals, words like dags, dangleberries, dingleberries, jub-nuts, winnetsand 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 termswhich are actually much older than their users realise: once again referring tomoney, 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 examplesof nowadays’ slang which I found from very interesting site:
A: An A tuning fork.
Example: Man, my guitar's way out of tune. Can you pass me my A?
a (good) kay and a half: One and a half kilometres; the distance to anywhere from anywhere else; a long way.
Example: Where's Christie's Beach? About a kay and a half that way.
How far are we from home? We'd be a good kay and a half, I reckon.
A Buck One-Eighty: You have A Buck Three-Eighty. I have always heard it this way--so there's a variant.
Example: Wonder if a buck three-eighty is actually the same amount as a buck one-eighty?
a buck three eighty: The price for anything.
Example: Q: How much is this, sir? A: That's a buck three eighty.
a case of the ass or redass: Highly annoyed, pissed off. Currently used in US Army.
Example: Sergeant Greenfield has this huge case of the ass with me ever since I wrecked his humvee.
a couple two three: I guess this means two or three. (We don't say this in Chicago. It's a weird thing they say out west or something.)
Example: He had a couple two three dogs in his yard.
a dollar three eightyfive: A nonsensical price for when one does not want to give the real price.
Example: How much did my Lexus cost? A dollar three eightyfive.
a double: A twenty dollar bill.
Example: I've got eighty dollars on me, all I need is a double to make it a hundred.
[A double sawbuck is a twenty. Read Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler to see fin, sawbuck, and double sawbuck in action.]
a fin: Five dollars. (Gamblers use it for $500.)
Example: All I have is a fin and two dollars in change in my pocket.
a freddy: a pint of beer, more specifically a pint of heineken, named after the late freddy heineken
Example: Two freddys and a ginger ale, please.
a happy Birthday: A phrase mostly used by guys when they catch themselves in a situation when
a girl exposes some part of her anatomy without knowing it, clothed or not.
Usually happens at the gym.
Example: Did you see that girl's shirt? Now that is a happy birthday.
A List: The people at school who are cooler than anyone else in the school.
Example: I'm not cool enough to go out with her--she's A list.
a Monet: Someone who is very good looking from a distance, yet from up close the attraction diminishes.
Example: He was hot from afar, but he turned out to be a Monet when I went up to speak.
a mouse in his pocket: Phrase used to describe someone large, probably very strong, but intensely stupid. From _Of Mice and Men_[?]
Example: We've got a new guy at work who worries me; I swear I think he's got a mouse in his pocket.
a nifty: A fifty dollar bill.
Example: I borrowed a nifty from my mom and she upped it five bucks more.Now I owe her fifty-five dollars.
a pig in your pocket: Used when a person doesn't want to assist another.
Example: What do you mean we? Is there a pig in your pocket?
a sims moment: Brief moment in which you can relate something in real life to something in the computer simulation game The Sims. Usually occurs after rounds of playing said game.
Example: I'm having a sims moment. This kitchen looks almost like what I did in The Sims last night.
a sleeve: A hundred dollar bill.
Example: I got seven hundred dollars, all in sleeves.
a solid: A favor.
Example: Do me a solid and send me that website link.
a whole 'nother: An entirely different. I've noticed this phrase in the vocabulary of many people of various backgrounds and have even heard it on national TV, but I have yet to see it written down (before now).
Example: That's a whole 'nother story.
A's and C's: n. (plural) abbr. of Arts and Crafts. Slang form, creative endeavour.
Example: They're letting me out of that place today so I can do some A's and C's.
A'stake: A mistake, (Thanks, Erin.)
Example: I'm sorry, I made a'stake.
A-Bag: Real estate exchanger term meaning a keeper property that would not be traded off without a substantial advantage gained.
Example: That's a good property--it's A-Bag.
A-D-orable: Really adorable and cute.
Example: Look at that guy, he's A-D-orable!
a-delic: Usually seen after funk, mack, or shag. Emphasizes the previous word to its maximum.
Example: That lowrider is pimp-a-delic.
a-dollar-three-eighty: The price for anything.
Example: Question: How much is it? Answer: A-dollar-three-eighty.
a-game: To do your best effort possible in any endeavor, not just pertaining to sports.
Example: I didn't do to well on that test last week, next time I'm going to bring my A-game.
A-list: A mythical group of weblogs and personal sites (and their creators) who are simply Much Cooler Than You. It is worth noting that (a) no such list actually exists, (b) those who are on the list adamantly deny its existence, and (c) it is not the same as the Cabal. A-list is frequently used in a mocking manner by those who are not members.
Example: Oh, one link from kottke.org and now you go all A-list on us! OR You haven't seen this yet? All the A-listers linked to it.
a-loin: Used in the place alone. Especially leave me alone.
Example: I'm having a bad day, so just leave me a-loin.
A-madnay: (uh-mad-nay) From the French, un moment donné, at a given time.
Example: We really need to catch up. Maybe we could go for coffee a-madnay.
a-scared: Like afraid, but not as dramatic. Usually an adjective, but sometimes a verb.
Example: Oh, you a-scared me, I didn't know anyone was here.
A.R. three-eighty: An anal rententive person. A perfectionist.
Example: Ugh, look at how he constantly straightens his hair. What an A.R. three-eighty.
Aabar: To use sly, deceitful, or illegal tactics to occupy the first place in any ordered listing, esp. phone directories.
Example: You will have to aabar well to rank higher in the dictionary than this.
aaboos: Abuse. Brummie translation of the Welsh.
Example: You are aaboosing me, you naughty Welshman.
aaiight!: All Right! Used in times of intense emotion.
Example: Dad: Son, get in there and clean your room. Son: Aaiight!
aarqeunaamaaei: (Pronounciation: arch-ay-nay-mey) Used in the place of arch enemy. However, aarqeunaamaaei usually refers to political enemies.
Example: Fidel Castro and George W. Bush are aarqeunaamaaeis.
Aazing: Like amazing, but not quite.
Example: The 30-story building was aazing.
abacoral: The backbone of a snail.
Example: Hello, class. We're going to look for abacorals today.
Abal: Used by the younger generation to label a person as dumb, uncouth, unsophisticated.
Example: You're just an Abal.
abbamatically: The tendency for an unbearably cloying song to
repeat over and over in your head all day after hearing it on the radio.
Example: More Than a Woman has been playing abbamatically in my head since breakfast.
abbeverate: To feed a person a drink, to offer a drink, or provide a drink.
Example: I'm going to abbeverate our guests before they die of thirst.
Abdicate: To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
Example: If you drink 24 beers a day you must be prepared to abdicate seeing your toes again.
abeer: used in place of ahmen, usually as a type of thanks.
Example: Paul-I'll get the next round of sodas. Group (in unision)-abeer!
abella: Someone who owns everything possible.
Example: That abella rules at Counter-strike.
Aberzombie: One who wears only Abercrombie & Fitch clothing.
Example: Trust me, you're not his type. He's only into other Aberzombies like himself.
abnatural: an obscene violation of what is natural.
Example: McDonald's food, industrial pollution, and repression of happiness are all abnatural, screaming contradictions to healthy existence.
abode: A board. A piece of lumber used to build a structure.
Example: Is that abode fence?
aboot: About. Used to emphasize Canadianess.
Example: You're Canadian?
What are you talking aboot, eh?
abra-kebabra: The inevitability that the kebab you are consuming at 3am after one too many beers
with your mates will reappear in the very near future.
Example: We had almost made it home after a big night out when suddenly....abra-kebabra.
ABS: Asshole Behavior Scale. Logarithmic scale from 1 to 10 used to measure how much of an asshole someone is being. Similar to the Richter scale for earthquakes with each whole number representing an intensity 10 times greater than the next lower number.
Example: Chris's extremely cranky again today. Had to be at least a 6.2 on the ABS.
absogoddamnlutely: Ultimate absolutely.
Example: I am absogodamnlutely sure I've used this word hundreds of times.
absoludacris: Something absolutely ludicrous--say, to Mr. T, for example.
Example: Drugs are *bad* Drugs are absoludacris.
absoludicrous: The peak of ridiculousness. Absolutely ludicrous.
Example: Look! That guy has blue hair. How absoludicrous.
absonotly: Used when the intent is to most definitely decline in no uncertain terms.
Example: I absonotly won't do that.
absopause: (n) When, for some odd reason, everyone shuts up and listens when you talk. Rare.
Example: During the absopause, everyone heard Rob's plan.
absopositively: (adj) Absolutely and positively combined.
Example: I am absopositively sure that Milton likes you.
absosilence: (n) When everyone in a noisy room becomes silent at the same time with no apparent cause.
Example: Three-hundred people shut up at the same time. The absosilence was weird.
Absotively: Combination of absolutely and positively. Usually used an answer to a request.
Example: Q: Will you go to the store for me?
absotively-posilutely: Scrambled absolutely and positively.
Example: I am absotively-posilutely sure about that.
abstractional-dopmology: The study of brown dots in any carpet.
Example: I see you've been catching up on your abstractional-dopmology.
Absurdbaijan: (n) The realm or domain of absurd ideas.
Example: John must be from Absurdbaijan; he thinks aliens are spying on him with mashed potatoes.
Example: My math teacher asked me, Can you prove that there are infinitely many real numbers? I replied, Abuba?
abyssagation: A void before a great discovery, as well as a person who has writers' block and then writes better than he's ever written.
Example: Any inventor has experienced abyssagation in his life at least once.
Abyssicaletphedence: An endless nothingness of boredom.
Example: James sat in abyssicaletphedence druing class.
abyssinia: I'll be seeing you.
AC: Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Example: AC is a pretty ghetto town.
Example: Accckkkk! The monkey sold the liver I was planning on using for the transplant.
accellurate: To add (a lot, and fast) extra minutes to your cellular plan.
Example: I've been accellurated to 3000 minutes on nights and weekends.
accipurp: A deliberate act intended to appear accidental
Example: I hit him by accipurp.
accipurpodentally: Accidentally on purpose, when you meant to do something but pretend you really didn't.
Example: I accipurpodentally hit on my sister's guy friend.
accordianated: Being able to refold a road map and drive at the same time.
Example: She showed how accordianated she was by folding up the road map and steering the car at the same time.
accribitz, deccribitz: Used in an episode of the TV show _Veronica's Closet_ when a character
could not think of a synonym for increase or decrease.
Example: I expect sales figures to accribitz in the next quarter.
ace: One's best friend.
Example: Jim's my ace.
ace: excellent, great
Example: I had an ace time at Jeff's party!
ace: Ass, fool.
Example: I ran into a wall today, and felt like an ace.
aces: Said in a very excited moment, when there is just nothing else to say. From poker, where the best hand is five aces.
Example: A. That gorgeous babe over there just asked me for your phone number. B. Aces!
achecanantooch: To eat foreign food.
Example: I'm hungry. Let's achecanantooch all night!
acheye: The pain you feel in your eyes after looking at a screen for ages.
Example: Acheye is really setting in now; but, boy, is this screen entertaining.
Achoo: Used when a conversation is boring, to stir excitement or some type of response, using follow by something like Oh, all the silence is making me sneeze.
Example: … Achoo! Oh, Bless me, I'm allergic to silence.
achuwie: A varation of the word actually; a poor pronunciation of actually, often caused by speaking too fast.
Example: I achuwie am getting too excited. That's why my speech is slurred.
ack: Exclamation used to indicate surprise, irritation, or disgust, often with one's own actions.
Example: Ack! I deleted my entire inbox!
acklapootis: Cool, awesome, etc.
Example: Angelina Jolie is one acklapootis babe when she gets to talkin' about her and Billy Bob.
aclueistic: Incapable of having a clue
Example: If you have to ask, you must be aclueistic.
acluistic: Not having a clue.
Example: Those cable repair guys are acluistic.
acrapulate: Word used for describing a large amount of useless junk collected over a period of time.
Example: I can't believe how much I've acrapulated over the years.
acribit: To increase.
Example: There are many ways to acribit your wealth.
(P.S. Why would you write, Please use the word you are submitting in the example?
Are people honestly that stupid? Err, sorry, forget I said that. ;)
acrojumble: Using too many acronyms. Such as, I'd love to, but it is the DFR deadline week for all KIXs and ZSWs.
Example: Her memo was unreadable because of severe acrojumble.
acronize: To provide an acronym for.
Example: I tried to acronize his name into a befitting insult, but failed to produce anything suitable.
Acronyze: (verb) The process of shortening phrases, via an acronym, for the purpose of simplifing statements. Typically used in technical data reporting or inter-office e-mails.
(IE FUBAR or KISS)
Example: I didn't realize that phrase had been acronyzed.
Action tooth: A gold tooth. Can also mean to smile, as in Show me your action tooth.
Example: I got some pictures of you the other night flashing your action tooth.
adalada: Ay-duh-la-duh. Not a lot.
Example: Brandon: What's goin on?
adam henry: From the phonetical representation for the letters a and h.
Typically used by law enforcement officers on the radio to inform another officer that the person
they are dealing with is behaving like an asshole.
Example: 104 to Control; start additional assistance for an adam henry
adda be: Congratulatory phrase, often used in a sarcastic manner.
Example: Your girlfriend just slapped you in front of the whole school? Adda be, doofus.
addictant: what you are addicted to
Example: Nicotine is quite an addictant.
addictefreak: One who is addicted to something 24/7.
Example: Boy, Sam is sure an addictefreak when it comes to StarCraft.
Addy: short form of address
Example: What is your addy? What is the addy?
adevo: A generally exaggerated amount. Also used to refer to smack downs in video games.
Example: Who wants to feel the adevo power?
Adger: A mistake, or pathetically stupid remark in conversation, usually involving disastrous consequences,
which could have been avoided with even the slightest amount of forethought.
Example: Oh, mate, that certainly was an enormous adger you made there, and now you look a right tit.
Example: The stage show was adipolli.
admin: Administrator. Also used to describe one who knows nothing about her job and ends up doing it poorly.
Example: Slim: Grrr. Who chose these workstations anyway? And why this software? Bob: Oh, that'd be the admin.
administraitor: A semi-high-level government employee who blows the whistle on her agency.
Example: Our former boss, Harvey, sure put a lot of us out of work. Damned administraitor.
administrivia: Small print at the bottom of written documents, particularly those written by corporate lawyers.
You can see here: www.slangsite.com/
The use of slang usually involves deviationfrom standard language, and tends to be very popular among adolescents.However, it is used to at least some degree in all sectors of society. Althoughslang does not necessarily involve neologisms (some slang expressions, such asquid, are very old), it often involves the creation of new linguistic forms orthe creative adaptation of old ones. It can even involve the creation of asecret language understood only by those within a particular group (anantilanguage). As such, slang sometimes forms a kind of sociolect aimed atexcluding certain people from the conversation. Slang words tend to functioninitially as a means of obfuion, so that the non-initiate cannot understand theconversation. The use of slang is a means of recognizing members of the samegroup, and to differentiate that group from society at large. In addition tothis, slang can be used and created purely for humorous or expressive effect.
Slang terms are frequently particular toa certain subculture, such as musicians, and members of a minority. All thesame, slang expressions can outside their original arena and become commonlyunderstood; recent examples include «cool». While some such wordseventually lose their status as slang, others conti to be considered as such bymost speakers. In e of this, the process tends to lead to their replacement byother, less well-recognised, expressions by their original users.
Slang is to be distinguished fromjargon, the technical vocabulary of a particular profession, as the associationof informality is not present. Moreover, jargon may not be intended to excludenon-group members from the conversation, but rather deals with technicalpeculiarities of a given field which require a specialized vocabulary.
According to Bethany K. Dumas andJonathan Lighter, an expression should be considered «true slang»if it meets at least two of the following criteria:
It lowers, if temporarily, «thedignity of formal or serious speech or writing»; in other words, it islikely to be seen in such contexts as a «glaring misuse of register.»
Its use implies that the user isfamiliar with whatever is referred to, or with a group of people that are familiarwith it and use the term. «It is a term in ordinary discourse with peopleof a higher social status or greater responsibility.» It replaces «awell known conventional synonym». This is especially to avoid «thediscomfort caused by the conventional item [or by] further elaboration.»
Functions and origins of slang One useof slang is simply to circumvent social s. Mainstream language tends to awayfrom everything explicitly evoking certain realities, and slang can permit oneto talk about these realities, whether euphemistically or not. For this reason,slang vocabularies are particularly rich in certain ns, such as uality,violence, crime, and s. They can be quite regional, and in the case of easilyparodied examples, short-lived, such as 'valspeak'.
Alternatively, slang can grow out ofmere familiarity with the things described. Among Californian connoisseurs, CabernetSauvignon might be known as «Cab», Chardonnay as «Chard»and so on; this means that naming the different s expends less superfluouseffort. It also serves as a shared code among connoisseurs.
There is not just one slang, but verymany varieties — or dialects — of it. Different social groups in differenttimes have developed their own slang. The importance of encryption andidentity, of having a secret code or language, varies between these instances.For slang to maintain its power as a means of encryption, it must constantlyrenew its process of expression, so that those not part of the group willremain unable to understand it. Many slang words are replaced, as speakers getbored of them, or they are co-opted by those outside the group. For this reason,the existence of slang dictionaries reduces the perceived usefulness of certainslang words to those who use them.
Numerous slang terms pass into informalmainstream speech, and thence sometimes into mainstream formal speech, perhapschanging somewhat in meaning to become more acceptable.
Examples of slang Historical examples ofslang are the «thieves' cant» used by beggars and the underworldgenerally in previous centuries: a number of cant dictionaries were published,many based on that published by Thomas Harman. For example a 'dingbat' means aperson.
Another famous example, still in use, isney rhyming slang in which, in the simplest case, a given word or phrase isreplaced by another word or phrase that rhymes with it. Often the rhymingreplacement is abbreviated further, making the expressions even more obscure. Anew rhyme may then be introduced for the abbreviation and the process contis.Examples of rhyming slang are apples (and pears), for stairs, and trouble (andstrife), for wife. An example of truncation and replacement of rhyming slangstarts with bottle and glass being used for arse (ass). This was reduced tobottle, for which the new rhyme Aristotle was found; Aristotle was then reducedto Aris for which plaster of Paris became the rhyme. This was, in turn, reducedto plaster. Ergo, plaster means arse.
Backwards slang, or Backslang, is a formof slang where words are reversed. English backward slang tends to reversewords letter by letter while French backward slang tends to reverse words bysyllables. Verlan is a French slang that uses backward words, similar in itsmethods to the back slang. Louchebem is French er's slang, similar to Latin.Vesre is the Río de la Plata's region version of a backwards languagewhich reverses syllables; it is closely associated with lunfardo.
Slang very often involves the creationof novel meanings for existing words. It is very common for such novel meaningsto diverge significantly from the standard meaning. Thus, «cool» and«hot» can both mean «very good or impressive.» In fact, onecommon process is for a slang word to take on exactly the opposite meaning ofthe standard definition. This process has given rise to the positive meaning ofthe word «bad,» as in the Michael on song of that title, for example.
Polari is an interesting example ofslang that drew on various sources, including ney and Italian. Polari was usedin London fish markets and the subculture in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s,becoming more widely known from its use by two camp characters, Julian andSandy, in Round the Horne, a popular radio show.
Slang terms are often only known withinthe community of users. For example, Leet Speak (Leet or «1337») is a«language» that is popular among online video gamers. Another exampleof slang being derived from a specific element in popular culture is Nadsat, aform of slang used in the book A Clockwork Orange, which borrows words from theRussian language and from various forms of English slang.
1. Partridge 13 for the history and definitionof the terms, and H.M. Fowler, A Dictionary of Modern English Usage(Oxford: Oxford UP, 1965) 315316 for a discussion of the various terms forjargon and slang.
2. Stuart Berg Flexner, preface, Dictionaryof American Slang, by Robert L. Chapman (1960; New York: Harper and Row,1986) xviii.
3. DJchellette 232252 for French acronyms,and individual entries in Brophy. Most acronyms are jargon, but some becomeslang (see SNAFU, below). A First World War example is the German AEG (allgemeinesEtappengeschw@tz=, general headquarters gossip) formed on AllgemeinerElektrizit@tsgesellschaft (General Electric Company) of Berlin. See Mausser52.
4. “Slang and the Dictionary” Tony Thorne
5. Dumas, Bethany K. and Lighter, Jonathan(1978) «Is Slang a Word for Linguists?» American Speech 53 (5):14-15.
6.Croft, William (2000) Explaining Language Change: An Evolutionary Approach.Harlow: Longman: 75-6.
6. A Historical Dictionary of AmericanSlang (2006), ed. Robert Beard, alpha Dictionary.com, www.alphadictionary.com/slang/.
7. Beard, Robert (2006) What is Slang?alphaDictionary.com, www.alphadictionary.com/articles/what_is_slang.html
8. On changing slang usage, see StephanieSmith (2006) Household Words: Bloomers, er, s, scab,, cyber. Minneapolis:University of Minnesota Press.
9. The Bloomsbury Dictionary ofContemporary Slang.