Summary and Info
Slang is a widespread phenomenon in English, but, despite its pervasiveness, it has been marginalized or neglected in linguistics. Does it exhibit the same word-formation mechanisms as the standard language? In other words, is it the result of well-established grammatical rules? Or is it outside regular grammar? Again, is slang internally organized in terms of semantic relations and lexical fields, or is it rather a disorganized, complex lexicon made up of vague words and polysemous expressions? In an attempt to describe slang, there is a general tendency to treat it as a merely social concept reinforcing cohesiveness within a group, or as a level of usage below stylistically neutral language. Slang commonly overlaps with other non-standard varieties such as cant, jargon, dialect, or even with bad language. This book explores slang from a different angle. Slang is defined both as a group-related variety and as an informal vocabulary of more general use. It is characterized by many extra-grammatical formations which distinguish it from standard English, but also by formations which conform to regular patterns. Besides, it is viewed as a complex lexical system on account of the difficulty it entails in cognitive processing and meaning disambiguation. Yet, such lexical complexity may be exploited by speakers who wish to communicate clandestinely or secretly. In this view, slang offers intriguing issues for a theoretical debate, and new paths for linguists who are attracted by what is original, trendy and pioneering.
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