Slang (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
Most readers of Slang: The People’s Poetry will be surprised to learn how little they know about the informal and playful language they use every day, and they will be delighted to be educated by such a teacher as the author, Michael Adams. Drawing on dozens of sources, from slang dictionaries and works by linguists to television shows and schoolyard chatter, Adams describes exactly what slang is and how it is used. Though the material is quite technical in places, the author’s humor and his unblushing, close examination of the sort of language most of his readers do not encounter in their professional lives, make this an educational and entertaining read.
Adams begins, as any good teacher does, with definitions, separating slang from related kinds of language such as argot and jargon. In his preface and first chapter, Adams introduces what has apparently been a long-standing controversy among linguists and attempts to resolve it: First, he describes the leaders among the earlier books about slang, most notably Eric Partridge’s Slang: To-day and Yesterday (1933), which attempted to cover broad questions of definition and purpose, as well as more recent works addressing subsets of slang use, including the “wise and elegant” Slang and Sociability: In-Group Language Among College Students (1996) by Connie Eble and The Slang of Sin (1998) by Tom Dalzell.
In nodding to earlier work, Adams presents the...
(The entire section is 1778 words.)
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