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When is it suitable to use slang and what effect does it have?

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When is it suitable to use slang and what effect does it have?

There are situations in life when it is appropriate to use slang, both the spoken word and when writing. However there are also many situations where it is entirely inappropriate to use slang.  Nobody consciously decides to start speaking or writing in slang, indeed there are so many slang words that have permeated Standard English language that we often don’t realise when we are using a slang word when in fact we are.

‘Slang’ as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary means:  

Very informal words, phrases, or meanings, not regarded as standard and often used by a specific profession, class, etc.’

‘Slang’ is a general term used to describe a number of different language devices falling within the category.

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When exploring the suitability of using Slang it is best to look at situations where it is used and decide whether it is appropriate or not. Slang is used seemingly everywhere on the television but there are exceptions. For example, Slang is evident in soap operas and gritty dramas. Coupled with regional accents, the effect of using slang is to make the soap or drama more realistic and therefore believable. Likewise in police and law court-based dramas, jargon or legalese is used to make the programme more believable.  

However, some programs will not consciously use Slang such as the BBC News or party political broadcasts for example.  But, even in these situations, newsreaders or indeed the Prime Minister may employ a carefully chosen neologism or affix such as ‘Whitewash’ or ‘Watergate’ to get their message across to the public.

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When slang is written it is often used differently but still has situations in which it is not suitable such as instruction manuals, legislation (though full of jargon), homework etc. It is again frowned upon if used in these situations. Although it is not seen as bad in certain situation but anticipated in places such as texting, e-mail etc.

There are many situations which slang can be used and situations where it cannot but it does often appear in most places without many people even noticing as the word has become so common. But with some words which you feel are suitable others may disagree and be offended which is we it is very imported to use slang in the right situations and be conscious of when you are using it.

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