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'Slang is subversive, conscious and ephemeral'. Discuss this definition of slang with reference to examples of slang and the different purposes of slang.

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Introduction

'Slang is subversive, conscious and ephemeral'. Discuss this definition of slang with reference to examples of slang and the different purposes of slang. Once, "slang" was itself slang - a specimen of the very thing that it described. The entry on the word in Eric Partridge's original 1937 edition of his one-man dictionary reaches back towards the origins as a vulgar term for "the special vocabulary (e.g. cant) of low, illiterate, or disreputable persons; low illiterate language". Slang is used by everyone all the time. The use of slang is often been regarded by linguists as ephemeral and a conscious decision by the user. This is certainly true but many people confuse this with a person's dialect, which by definition would make their lexical choice an unconscious one. The use of slang by individuals in the past and increasingly more nowadays is considered as subversive, for example the use of Polari in the 1960's. ...read more.

Middle

The 'conscious' nature of slang is best described by the phrase 'it is usually spoken with intent to produce a startling or original effect'. Most people will agree that their use of language changes depending on the context of the situation. When in a formal situation, the use of slang is greatly reduced and in informal situations, the opposite occurs. As a result, slang can be classified as a conscious decision to change their language to meet the social context. Slang is widely associated with particular groups for example the black community will have their own slang and so will the prison community. The use of slang by all groups can be traced to their desire to have a language that only those from their social group can understand in a sense to be unique. The example of prison slang is a prime example of how slang can be used to distinguish people in any situation. ...read more.

Conclusion

Since then slang has developed massively, for example slang such as 'ball n chain' and 'boyf' which were popular slang in the early 90's now are rarely used and if they are it will be to mock or annoy. In conclusion, Slang has developed dramatically over the past hundred years. The ephemeral quality of slang means that a solid definition of it can never be achieved. Many people believe that the slang language they are using can be classed as vernacular language but the fundamental difference is that slang is conscious and colloquial language in a community is usually unconscious. The subversive nature of slang can be divided into a purpose of expressing abuse or wanting individuality within a community. Slang has taken on may forms in the past but the reference that slang is conscious, subversive and ephemeral is an accurate description for the society we live in. Adam Weeks 13A English Language: Accents and Dialects ...read more.

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