While many slang words introduce new concepts, some of the most effective slang provides new expressions--fresh, satirical, shocking--for established concepts, often very respectable ones. Sound is sometimes used as a basis for this type of slang, as, for example, in various phonetic distortions (e.g., pig Latin terms). It is also used in rhyming slang, which employs a fortunate combination of both sound and imagery. Thus, gloves are "turtledoves" (the gloved hands suggesting a pair of billing doves), a girl is a "twist and twirl" (the movement suggesting a girl walking), and an insulting imitation of flatus, produced by blowing air between the tip of the protruded tongue and the upper lip, is the "raspberry," cut back from "raspberry tart." Most slang, however, depends upon incongruity of imagery, conveyed by the lively connotations of a novel term applied to an established concept. Slang is not all of equal quality, a considerable body of it reflecting a simple need to find new terms for common ones, such as the hands, feet, head, and other parts of the body. Food, drink, and sex also involve extensive slang vocabulary. Strained or synthetically invented slang lacks verve, as can be seen in the desperate efforts of some sportswriters to avoid mentioning the word baseball--e.g., a batter does not hit a baseball but rather "swats the horsehide," "plasters the pill," "hefts the old apple over the fence," and so on.
The most effective slang operates on a more sophisticated level and often tells something about the thing named, the person using the term, and the social matrix against which it is used. Pungency may increase when full understanding of the term depends on a little inside information or knowledge of a term already in use, often on the slang side itself. For example, the term Vatican roulette (for the rhyth system of birth control) would have little impact if the expression Russian roulette were not already in wide usage.
8. Diffusion of slang
Slang invades the dominant culture as it seeps out of various subcultures. Some words fall dead or lie dormant in the dominant culture for long periods. Others vividly express an idea already latent in the dominant culture and these are immediately picked up and used. Before the advent of mass media, such terms invaded the dominant culture slowly and were transmitted largely by word of mouth. Thus a term like snafu, its shocking power softened with the explanation "situation normal, all fouled up," worked its way gradually from the military in World War II by word of mouth (because the media largely shunned it) into respectable circles. Today, however, a sportscaster, news reporter, or comedian may introduce a lively new word already used by an in-group into millions of homes simultaneously, giving it almost instant currency. For example, the term uptight was first used largely by criminal narcotic addicts to indicate the onset of withdrawal distress when drugs are denied. Later, because of intense journalistic interest in the drug scene, it became widely used in the dominant culture to mean anxiety or tension unrelated to drug use. It kept its form but changed its meaning slightly.
Other terms may change their form or both form and meaning, like "one for the book" (anything unusual or unbelievable). Sportswriters in the U.S. borrowed this term around 1920 from the occupational language of then legal bookmakers, who lined up at racetracks in the morning ("the morning line" is still figuratively used on every sports page) to take bets on the afternoon races. Newly arrived bookmakers went to the end of the line, and any bettor requesting unusually long odds was motioned down the line with the phrase, "That's one for the end book." The general public dropped the "end" as meaningless, but old-time gamblers still retain it. Slang spreads through many other channels, such as popular songs, which, for the initiate, are often rich in double entendre.
Реферат опубликован: 7/06/2006