Thursday, March 08, 2012

Taking a Look at Slang over Time

Professor Julie Coleman's new book, The Life of Slang sounds like a great read. In it (innit? LOL!), she traces the origins of different slang terms and looks at slang's uses in society.

As part of the publicity for the book, she was interviewed on Radio 4's Today programme and you can hear part of it through this link. As you might imagine, some slang terms have had a longer life than most people think, so we find that chav has been knocking around since 1886, to hang out since 1811, and dope has been used to describe illicit drugs since 1872.

One interesting part of the Radio 4 segment is that it relates to arguments about banning slang, so Kathy August (referred to in Playground Prescriptivism) is interviewed about her views on slang and young people's education. Coleman's response produces a nifty quotation that I'm sure ENGA3 students can use in Language Discourses: "It's impossible to stigmatise a style of language without stigmatising the people who use it."

For a quick look at some of the other slang terms Coleman features in her book, have a look at this piece in The Sun.


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