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Slang and jargon (реферат)

Off all the skills that human beings possess, language is the most quintessentially human. The practices and institutions that we take for granted, such as law, religion and science, would not be possible without communication of symbolic and abstract meanings that language makes easy. No other animal has anything even approximating human language, and this is no doubt the reason for the complete absence of such institutions even among our closest relatives, the great apes.

In spite of the fact that we all use language intensively every day and are constantly surrounded by its spoken and written forms, most of us are completely unaware of its true nature and structure. This is because it is so close for us, so much a part of our daily lives, that we use it unconsciously. It is a skill we take for granted like walking and breathing. But this easy, largely unconscious skill is very deceptive, for all human languages are highly complex systems for communication, with greatly elaborated structures and rules. Linguistics is the discipline that takes language as its particular object of study, to uncover its structures and rules and to understand how these are used in human acts of communication.

Linguistics studies the full range of aspects of human language. It investigates the phonetics, grammar and semantics of individual languages, the 'linguistic universals'. Various linguistic theories have been proposed which attempt to characterize this underlying structure of all languages; these theories are then used as a guide for the description of individual languages and revised accordingly. Languages, which seem on first view to be very different, may turn out, on closer investigation, to share many important deeper similarities in terms of their overall structural patterning.

Linguistics occupies a privileged position in the field of humanities and sciences in that it touches on many of the central issues that concern a number of disciplines. Because language is concerned with communication between humans, it is relevant for the social sciences like anthropology and sociology, but because it is the central instrument for thinking and other cognitive tasks, it is also important to psychologists. Problems of language also take large part in fields like philosophy and literary criticism. Finally linguistics has many practical applications in fields like language teaching, general education and computer science.

Perhaps the most important in linguistics is reasoning about language, and its writing and speaking forms. And of course, an understanding of language is useful in many jobs.

Every language has phrases or expressions that cannot be translated literally. Even if you know the meanings of all the words and understand the grammar completely, the meaning of the phrase may still be confusing. Many proverbs, slang phrases, phrasal verbs and common sayings offer this kind of problem. A phrase or sentence of this type is usually said to be idiomatic or slang.

Nowadays in mass media and in our speech we come across a lot of new words. Some of them we can understand from the context but other words or phrases need explaining. As we know there are a lot of dictionaries that try to help us with this problem. Slang is widely used by people in every country. So far as I am a representative of youth I can say that the slang is very often used in my social section. Not every dictionary can reflect all the spectrum of slang meanings. I decided to write my work about modern speech and slang because, as for me, it is very actual nowadays. A lot of people often use these words even if they are not familiar with their meanings. Slang has obscene words, so we have to be careful with meanings of all of them and try to learn and to use them correctly. That is why I decided to learn more about slang and some speech features.

But sometimes in different English speaking countries the slang differs even if the language is the same. The striking example of this we can find in American and British English. As we know, the United States of America has never had an official language, and the biggest number of immigrants were from Britain and British Islands, that is why English is the most widely spread language in America. But there were also immigrants from other countries, so the languages were mixing. And nowadays as a result we can observe American English as an independent language, which is deeply rooted with English, Latin, and the ethnic language of American Indians.

Nowadays there are a lot of words, which are pronounced with changes, and new born words. Also there are a lot of differences in Canadian, Australian, New Zealandian English, etc. And of course a lot of various new meanings of the words can be found out in non-English speaking countries and all of them had their influence on American English.

But let's return to the slang, which has its own history and a lot of institutions that are exploring it.

Slang is widely used in every branch of human's occupation. It is very popular in schools, universities and in various educational institutions.

Slang and History of its Appearance.

Slang, according to the American poet, Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) is 'a language which takes off its coat, spits on its hands - and goes to work'. The Oxford English Dictionary provides a more judicious account: 'language of a highly colloquial type, considered as below the level of educated standard speech, and consisting either of new words or of current words employed in some special sense'. In a related definition, it also describes slang as 'language of low or vulgar type' and 'the special vocabulary or phraseology of a particular calling or profession'. This sums up the paradox of slang very well. People look down on it, but can hardly avoid using it, for everyone has some 'calling or profession', even if the 'call' is only watching football, collect stamps, or go drinking. There is upper-class slang alongside lower-class slang, the slang of doctors and of lawyers, the slang of footballers and philatelists, as well as the slang, which cuts across social class and occupation, available to anyone as the most colloquial variety of language. The word 'most' is important. Let's have a drink is colloquial, but not slang. Let's dip the bill, which means the same thing, belongs to slang.

The literary language owes many new forms of expression to slang.

The ultimate origin of the name SLANG is not definitely known. The word itself is probably a slang creation.

The sources of slang are extremely varied.

Slang is often humorous, witty and sometimes picturesque. It is more and more penetrating into the literary language.

As an intentionally, often humorously strained form of speech in which the desire for novelty and for striking expression is predominant, slang though it draws numerous words from the shop talk of various occupations, gives them a currency outside of the limits of the occupation. In considering the nature of slang one should not identify it with colloquial speech. Slang, while particularly prevalent in colloquial speech, often has its origin in a striving for renewed concreteness and for novelty.

Slang may be easily condemned on the basis of its frequent tendency to lose slovenly and bizarre expression. Slang words are ill-adapted to serve as a medium of intercourse.

The very currency of slang depends on its allusions to things, which are not supposed to be universally familiar or generally respectable; and hence it is often vulgar since it brings in associations with what is for the moment regarded as unknown or in bad repute. Slang is not only unstable but it also has no fixed meaning. Its terms are vague and ill defined, and they grow more and more uncertain from day to day. When such a words become definite in its meaning it has almost ceased to be slang.

No doubt that it may accidentally happen that a word which originates as slang is better in expressiveness than its regular synonym. If it fills a real gap in the means of expression, language will take care of it. In fact, anything that is good in slang is almost sure to be picked up and adopted in the language.

The slang word is a deliberate substitute for a word of the vernacular just as a nickname is a substitute for a personal name.

One of the interesting aspects of slang is the fact that it not only exemplifies but exaggerates general linguistic processes. Words and phrases come into being and drop out in ways exactly like those of ordinary speech.

Slang is likely to be created among individuals in a group, a slang word may be substituted for a more formal word and still be understood. The more familiar any word is, the more rapidly and briefly it may be spoken. The linguistic processes through which the slang word is evolved may be traced in numerous examples. In the special circle of users of slang, for instance, not only phonetic clippings and irregularities, but also sense-shift may be freely indulged in. Besides syncopations, apocopate and aphaeresis slang may also bring features of speech like metonymy, metaphor and hyperbole as well. Most important of all is metaphor. This is most characteristic type of creation that slang admits.

The parts of the body may illustrate this particularly well. There are, for instance, numerous slangy metaphors for the concept 'head', such as bean, block, nut, dome, upper story, belfry, coco and still others.

Similar examples might easily be multiplied. One more illustration will serve to show the variety of slang in this domain.

The idea of 'drunk' or 'intoxicated' in such metaphors are: three shits in the wind, half-seas-over; stewed, boiled, fried, pickled; ossified, paralyzed, petrified; full, tight, half-shot canned, lit, loaded, tanked, pin-eyed, soused, piffled; canned; blotto; jagged; smashed.

One curious result of the use of metaphor in creating slang is that certain expressions that were literal in their original applications are metaphorically transferred to general use and then sometimes become so familiar that the metaphor fades out. This is particularly evident in the vocabulary of sport that has been transferred, through vivid metaphor, to a more common use.

Foul play, for instance, was a term in gambling, but it was extended metaphorically to the game of life. The present use has no tincture of slang about it. It may be said that some of slangy expressions have completely lost any odour of slang, while others - it's up to you, for instance, are probably in the process of losing it.

In addition to metaphor, figures of speech like metonymy, hyperbole, and irony are freely utilized in the creation of slang.

Shortening and other phonetic irregularities in slang are sufficiently obvious.

The slang origin of cab, taxi, bus, for instance, did not prevent their eventual adoption in standard speech. School slang is particularly rich in such creations, e.g. math, trig, lab, gym and so forth.

What has at first the novelty and the colloquial character typical of slang may lose these attributes through continued and more elevated use, and hence sense to be slang at all.

That slang is a phenomenon of long standing in language needs no further explanation.

There is every reason to suppose that the all-national language will continue in the future to enlarge its resources, as it has done in the past, by appropriating a certain modicum of the slang of the moment.

This needs not mean, however, that because slang is useful to language the more use made of it the better regardless of the purpose or the occasion.

Slang can easily be overused, used out of place. Its effective use is difficult and chiefly because it is so often figurative.

Present-day writers of fiction rely more and more on colloquial informality of expression.

The dialogue of novelists of earlier generations, the talk of their characters can be read without the aid of linguistic annotations for they speak standardized speech.

Readers of English contemporary fiction, on the other hand, will need all the help they can obtain if they are to follow shades of meaning, or even in some instances to find the vocabulary of the characters intelligible.

According to the British lexicographer, Eric Partridge (1894-1979), people use slang for any of at least 15 reasons:

1. In sheer high spirits, by the young in heart as well as by the young in years; 'just for the fun of the thing', in playfulness and waggishness.

2. As an exercise either in wit and ingenuity or in humor. (The motive behind this is usually self-display or snobbishness, emulation or responsiveness, delight in virtuosity).

3. To be 'different', to be novel.

4. To be picturesque.

5. To be unmistakable arresting, even startling.

6. To escape from clichés, or to be brief or concise.

7. To enrich the language.

8. To land an air of solidity, concreteness, to the abstract; to the idealistic; of immediacy and appositeness to the remote.

9a. To reduce, perhaps also to disperse the solemnity, the pomposity, the excessive seriousness of conversation (or of a piece of writing).

9b. To lessen the string of, or on the other hand to give additional point to a refusal, a rejection, a recantation.

9c. To soften the tragedy, to lighten or to 'prettify' the inevitability of death or madness, or to mask the ugliness of the pity of profound turpitude.

10. To speak and write down to an inferior, or to amuse a superior public; or merely to be on a colloquial level with either one's audience or one's subject matter.

11. For ease social intercourse.

12. To induce either friendliness or intimacy of a deep or a durable kind.

13. To show that one bellows to certain school, trade or profession, artistic or intellectual set, or social class; in brief, to be 'in the swim' or to establish contact.

14. Hence, to show or prove that someone is not 'in the swim'.

15. To be secret - not understood by those around one.

Slang is one of the chief markers of in-group identity. As such, it comes very close to jargon.

What is Jargon.

Jargon itself is a loaded word. One dictionary defines it, neatly and neutrally, as 'the technical vocabulary or idiom of special activity group', but this sense is almost completely overshadowed by another: 'obscure and often pretentious language marked by a roundabout way of expression and use of long words'. For most people it is this second sense, which is at the front of their minds when they think about jargon. Jargon is said to be a bad use of language, sometimes to be avoided at all costs. No one ever describes it in positive terms ('it was a delightful piece of rousing jargon'). Nor does one usually admit to using it oneself: the myth is that jargon is something only other people employ.

The up side. The reality is that everyone uses jargon. It is an essential part of the network of occupations, which make up society. All jobs present an element of jargon, which workers learn as they develop their expertise. All hobbies require mastery of a jargon. All sports and games have their jargon. The phenomenon turns out to be universal and valuable. It is the jargon element, which, in a job, can promote economy and precision of expression, and thus help make life easier for the workers. It is also the chief linguistic element, which shows professional awareness ('know-how') and social togetherness ('shop-talk').

When we have learned to command it, jargon is something we readily take pleasure in, whether the subject area is motorcycles, knitting, cricket, baseball, computers, or wine. It can add pace, variety and humor to speech - as when, with an important event approaching, we might slip into NASA-speak, and talk about countdown, all systems go, and lift-off. We enjoy the mutual showing-off, which stems from a fluent use of terminology, and we enjoy the in-jokes, which shared linguistic experience permits. Moreover, we are jealous of this knowledge. We are quick to demean anyone who tries to be a part of our group without being prepared to take on its jargon. And we resent it when some other group, senses our lack of linguistic awareness, refuses to let us in.

The down side. If jargon is so essential part of our lives, why then has it had such a bad press? The most important reason stems from the way jargon can exclude as well as include. We may not be too concerned if we find ourselves faced as an impenetrable wall of jargon when the subject matter has little perceived relevance in our everyday lives, as in the case of hydrology or linguistics. But when the subject matter is one where we feel implicated, and think we have right to know, and the speaker uses words which act as a barrier to our understanding, then we start to complain; we suspect that the obfuscation is deliberate policy, we unreservedly condemn, labeling it gobbledegook and calling down the public derision upon it.

No area is sacrosanct, but advertising, political, and military statements have been especially criticized in recent years by various campaigns for Plain English. In these domains, the extent to which people are prepared to use jargon to hide realities is a ready source of amusement, disbelief, and horror. A lie is a lie, which can be only temporarily hidden by calling it an 'inoperative statement' or 'an instance of plausible deniability'. Nor can a nuclear plant explosion be suppressed for long behind such phrases as 'energetic disassembly', 'abnormal evolution', or 'plant transient'.

While condemning unnecessary or obscuring jargon in others, we should not forget to look for it in ourselves. It is so easy to 'slip into' jargon, without realizing that our own listeners/readers do not understand. And it is just as easy to begin using jargon, which we ourselves do not understand. The motivation to do such apparently perverse things is not difficult to grasp. People like to be 'in', to be part of an intellectual or technical elite; and the use of jargon, whether understood or not, is a badge of membership. Jargon also can provide a lazy way into a group or an easy way of hiding uncertainties and inadequacies: when terminology slips plausibly from the tongue, it is not essential to the brain to keep up. Indeed, it is commonly asserted that politicians and civil servants have developed this skill to professional levels. And certainly, faced with a telling or awkward question, and the need to say something acceptable in public, slipping into jargon becomes a simple way out, and can soon develop into a bad habit.

Off all the skills that human beings possess, language is the most quintessentially human. The practices and institutions that we take for granted, such as law, religion and science, would not be possible without communication of symbolic and abstract meanings that language makes easy. No other animal has anything even approximating human language, and this is no doubt the reason for the complete absence of such institutions even among our closest relatives, the great apes.

In spite of the fact that we all use language intensively every day and are constantly surrounded by its spoken and written forms, most of us are completely unaware of its true nature and structure. This is because it is so close for us, so much a part of our daily lives, that we use it unconsciously. It is a skill we take for granted like walking and breathing. But this easy, largely unconscious skill is very deceptive, for all human languages are highly complex systems for communication, with greatly elaborated structures and rules. Linguistics is the discipline that takes language as its particular object of study, to uncover its structures and rules and to understand how these are used in human acts of communication.

Linguistics studies the full range of aspects of human language. It investigates the phonetics, grammar and semantics of individual languages, the 'linguistic universals'. Various linguistic theories have been proposed which attempt to characterize this underlying structure of all languages; these theories are then used as a guide for the description of individual languages and revised accordingly. Languages, which seem on first view to be very different, may turn out, on closer investigation, to share many important deeper similarities in terms of their overall structural patterning.

Linguistics occupies a privileged position in the field of humanities and sciences in that it touches on many of the central issues that concern a number of disciplines. Because language is concerned with communication between humans, it is relevant for the social sciences like anthropology and sociology, but because it is the central instrument for thinking and other cognitive tasks, it is also important to psychologists. Problems of language also take large part in fields like philosophy and literary criticism. Finally linguistics has many practical applications in fields like language teaching, general education and computer science.

Perhaps the most important in linguistics is reasoning about language, and its writing and speaking forms. And of course, an understanding of language is useful in many jobs.






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