British slang and its classification

Definition of concept of slangy language. Consideration of the reasons of occurrence, history of an origin, phonetic peculiarities, morphological characteristics and types of slang (from the Internet, of army, police, money, cockeney rhyming, polary).

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
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Язык английский
Дата добавления 06.02.2010
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"plates of meat" -feet

There are others, however, that become established with the changing culture.


"John Cleese" - cheese

"John Major" - pager

2.4 Morphological characteristics of slang

Slang comes to be a very numerous part of the English language. It is considered to be one of the main representatives of the nation itself. The birth of new words results from the order of the modern society. Slang arises due to our propensity for replacing old denominations by expressive ones. And yet the growing popularity of every new creation prevents it from remaining fresh and impressive. What was felt as strikingly witty yesterday becomes dull and stale today, since everybody knows it and uses it. So how do the slang words come to life? There are several ways of slang words formation:

1. Various figures of speech participate in slang formation.

For example: upperstorey-head (metaphor)

skirt-girl (metonymy)

killing-astonishing (hyperbole)

some-excellent or bad (understatement)

clear as mud (irony)

Slang items usually arise by the same means in which new words enter the general vocabulary.

2. The slang word can appear thanks to the recycling of the words and parts of words, which are already in the language.

Expressions may take form as metaphors, similes, and other figures of speech (dead as a doornail).Some slang formation follow the rules of Standard English. F.e., slang behaves regularly in the forming of denominal adjectives by -y suffixation (e.g. cbordy- moody, cbord-a bad mood, gobby-mouthy, slang gob-mouth) and deverbal adjectives by - able suffixation (shaggable- slang to shag -to fornicate). It uses the suffix -ette to denote female sex as in punkette (a female punk). It uses the verbal prefix de- to convey a sense of removal or deprivation to the base as in de-bag -to remove trousers. [8, 12]

Words may acquire new meanings (cool, cat). A narrow meaning may become generalized (fink, originally a strikebreaker, later a betrayer or disappointer) or vice-versa (heap, a run-down car). Most affixation tend to belong to extragrammatical morphology, though they exhibit a certain regularity and stability.

Slang has some productive suffixes which are either novel (eg. -o/oo, -eroo, -ers) or used differently from Standard English. The slang suffix -o means either ``a stupid unintelligent person``(dumbo, thicko) or a person with a particular habbit or characteristic (eg. Saddo, sicko). This suffix seems to be productive in the making of forms of address (kiddo, yobbo)

A cumulation of the suffix - er with -o/oo produces -eroo in slang as in smackeroo, meaning the same as smacker but with a more light - hearted slant.

Another profilic slang cumulation is -ers as in some pair nouns (cobblers, conkers, knackers), plural nouns (choppers-teeth, trousers) and uncountable nouns (ackers-money, uppers- amphetamine). The slang suffix -ers often occurs after abbreviation as in bathers (bathing costumes), brekkers (breakfast), taters (potatoes).

The suffix -s lost its inflectional meaning in slang and conveys new meaning to the base: afters- dessert, flicks- cinema, messages- groceries.

The use of - ed is also noteworthy in slang. It is added to noun to obtain adjectives: boxed, brained, hammered, ratted. -er in slang gives unpredictable sense as in belter- excellent thing or event, bottler-person who easily gives up.

3. Compounding makes one word from two. Initial and final combination have intensifying function: butt naked- fully naked, butt ugly- completely ugly; earache- a talkative person, faceache - a miserable looking person, airhead-someone out of touch with reality, homeboy-a person from the same hometown

Infixes are unknown in standard English being a peculiarity of slang. Bloody, fucking are used to provide information about speaker`s attitude (as in abso-bloody-lutely, or in fan-fuckin`-tastic).

Conversion is anomalous in slang in case of adjective-noun as in high- pleasantly intoxicated state, massive- a group of people. [8, 15]

4. In slang, frequently used words are likely to be abbreviated. For example: OTL-out to lunch-out of touch with reality. VJ-video jock-an announcer for televised music videos

Words may be clipped, or abbreviated (mike, microphone), and acronyms may gain currency (VIP, awol, snafu).

5. A currently productive process is the addition of a particle like OUT, OFF or ON to a noun, adjective or verb, to form a phrasal verb.

For example: blimp out-to overeat

blow off-to ignore

hit on-to make sexual overtures to

6. Unlike the general vocabulary of the language, English slang has not borrowed heavily from foreign languages, although it does borrow from dialects, especially from such ethnic or special interest groups which make an impact on the dominant culture .

7. Sometimes new words are just invented. shenanigans-tricks, pranks

So we can see that slang depart from what is generally regarded as grammatical or predictable and is likely to pioneer original word-formation processes which pave the way for further morphological process.


1. Translate the sentences from Fnglish. [24]

a) Sarah: hey why is Jimmy in the background of our prom picture?

Ryan: irk, he must have photobombed it at the last second.

b) I couldn't get a word in edgewise. She kept talking to me about her shoes, purse, and how her best friend just got dumped. I am a word receptacle.

c) Every morning Sherwin swings by our area to say hi and pulls a management by driveby.

d) Tiger: "I have to run to Zales to get a Kobe Special."

Friend: "What's that?"

Tiger: "A house on a finger."

e) "Dan won't answer your calls. He's in airplane mode."

f) "Sarah went into airplane mode for three days after Charlie dumped her."

g) Man, when I get back to work I'll have to start going to the gym again- I've put on some serious holiday pounds

2. Find slang words in the part of `` Roaring Girl`` [35]


A play expected long makes the audience look

For wonders, that each scene should be a book,

Compos'd to all perfection; each one comes

And brings a play in's head with him: up he sums

What he would of a roaring girl have writ;

If that he finds not here, he mews at it.

Only we entreat you think our scene

Cannot speak high, the subject being but mean:

A roaring girl whose notes till now never were

Shall fill with laughter our vast theatre;

That's all which I dare promise: tragic passion,

And such grave stuff, is this day out of fashion.

I see attention sets wide ope her gates

Of hearing, and with covetous list'ning waits,

To know what girl this roaring girl should be,

For of that tribe are many. One is she

That roars at midnight in deep tavern bowls,

That beats the watch, and constables controls;

Another roars i' th' daytime, swears, stabs, gives braves,

Yet sells her soul to the lust of fools and slaves.

Both these are suburb roarers. Then there's beside

A civil city roaring girl, whose pride,

Feasting, and riding, shakes her husband's state,

And leaves him roaring through an iron grate.

None of these roaring girls is ours: she flies

With wings more lofty. Thus her character lies;

Yet what need characters, when to give a guess

Is better than the person to express?

But would you know who 'tis? Would you hear her name?

She is call'd mad Moll; her life, our acts proclaim.

Enter Mary Fitzallard disguised like a sempster with a case for bands, and Neatfoot a serving-man with her, with a napkin on his shoulder and a trencher in his hand as from table.


The young gentleman our young master, Sir Alexander's son, is it into his ears, sweet damsel emblem of fragility, you desire to have a message transported, or to be transcendent?


A private word or two, sir, nothing else.


You shall fructify in that which you come for: your pleasure shall be satisfied to your full contentation. I will, fairest tree of generation, watch when our young master is erected, that is to say, up, and deliver him to this your most white hand.


Thanks, sir.


And withal certify him that I have culled out for him, now his belly is replenished, a daintier bit or modicum than any lay upon his trencher at dinner. Hath he notion of your name, I beseech your chastity?


One, sir, of whom he bespake falling bands.


Falling bands: it shall so be given him. If you please to venture your modesty in the hall amongst a curl-pated company of rude serving-men, and take such as they can set before you, you shall be most seriously and ingeniously welcome.


I have [dined] indeed already, sir.


Or will you vouchsafe to kiss the lip of a cup of rich Orleans in the buttery amongst our waiting-women?


Not now in truth, sir.


Our young master shall then have a feeling of your being here; presently it shall so be given him.


I humbly thank you, sir.

3. Do the test [20]

1. action (1)

If you're interested in American politics, the action is

a. in London

b. in Washington

c. in Tokyo

2. axe | ax (1)

The company had to axe Georgio because he

a. worked too hard

b. always came early

c. made too many mistakes

3. beat it

If somebody tells you to "Beat it!", they're telling you to

a. hit something

b. defeat something

c. go away

4. blast (2)

The manager blasted his secretary for

a. forgetting to give him a message

b. writing an excellent letter

c. doing such a good job

5. crap (2)

Shane said that the website we showed him was crap. He thinks it's

a. a pretty good website

b. a really bad website

c. a very interesting website

6. bent

The company's accountant was bent. For a long time he'd been

a. making simple mistakes

b. stealing the company's money

c. working too hard

7. busted

Glen has to go to court on Friday. He was busted last week for

a. growing his own vegetables

b. growing his own marijuana

c. brewing his own beer

8. can (2)

If you don't want to do time in the can, make sure you don't

a. know the law

b. obey the law

c. break the law

9. con

She met lots of men on the internet and conned quite a few into

a. chatting with her online

b. telling her about their lives

c. sending her money

10. cop

A cop's job is to

a. protect innocent people

b. shoot bad people

c. arrest good people

11. app

If you want to find some killer apps, you should go to

a. a software website

b. the city zoo

c. a high-security prison

12. blog

If you want to see some blogs, you should

a. go walking in a jungle

b. go to an aquarium

c. go online

13. egosurf

If you'd like to go egosurfing, you'll need

a. a surfboard

b. a surf report

c. an Internet connection

14. flame

Cathy was flamed in an online forum. Someone said she was

a. sexy

b. funny

c. stupid

15. geek

If you want to meet a lot of geeks, you should go to

a. a baseball game

b. a software convention

c. a jazz festival

16. acid

If someone takes a tab of acid, they will probably

a. be arrested for stealing chemicals

b. see things that aren't real

c. go to sleep

17. alky | alkie | alchy

Gillian thinks her husband's an alkie because he

a. gets drunk every day

b. has wine with his dinner most nights

c. drinks beer with his mates some nights

18. blow (2)

If someone says, "Hey, you wanna score some blow?" they're trying to sell you some

a. Pornography

b. Marijuana

c. cocaine

19. booze

The guys were looking for more booze, and Ted yelled "Yes!" when he found a bottle of

a. cough mixture

b. methylated spirits

c. Scotch whisky

20. busted

Glen has to go to court on Friday. He was busted last week for

a. growing his own vegetables

b. growing his own marijuana

c. brewing his own beer

21. ace (1)

Louis is an ace driver on the Formula One circuit, so he's

a. very good at driving golf balls

b. highly skilled at racing fast cars

c. an average Formula One driver

22. awesome

Francine said the most awesome thing she did on her holiday was

a. read an interesting book

b. buy some clothes

c. go skydiving for the first time

23. dork

A young person who is called a dork is probably

a. good at sports

b. not good at relating to people

c. clever at maths and science

24. dweeb

The kids call Mark a dweeb because he's

a. clever but he doesn't say much

b. stupid and aggressive

c. good-looking and smart

25. gnarly

When my kids say something is gnarly, it means they think it's

a. extremely good

b. extremely bad

c. either of the above

4. Translate the dialogue in Standard English

David: I thought this was supposed to be a big bash!

Bob: Oh, it will be. Stephanie said it`s gonna be huge. We`re just early, that`s all. So , what do ya think of her house?

David: This place`s really cool. Stephanie`s old man must be loaded. Hey, look! There`s that Donna chick. Man, can she strut her stuff! Don`t ya think she`s a turn on?

Bob: No way! Have you lost it? She may have a great bod, but as for her face , we`re talkin` butt ugly. Get real! Come on, let`s go scarf out on some chow before it`s gone.

David: What is this stuff?

Bob: Beats me. Looks like something beige. Just go for it.

David: Yuck! Make me heave! Hey, dude… this party`s a drag. I dunno about you, but I'm makin` a bee line for the door. I `m history!


According to the British lexicographer, Eric Partridge (1894-1979), people use slang for any of at least 17 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 or waggishness.

2) As an exercise either in wit and ingenuity or in humour. (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 (either positively or - as in the wish to avoid insipidity - negatively).

5) To be unmistakably arresting, even startling.

6) To escape from cliches, or to be brief and concise. (Actuated by impatience with existing terms.)

7) To enrich the language. (This deliberateness is rare save among the well-educated, Cockneys forming the most notable exception; it is literary rather than spontaneous.)

8) To lend an air of solidity, concreteness, to the abstract; of earthiness to the idealistic; of immediacy and appositeness to the remote. (In the cultured the effort is usually premeditated, while in the uncultured it is almost always unconscious when it is not rather subconscious.)

9) To lesson the sting of, or on the other hand to give additional point to, a refusal, a rejection, a recantation;

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

11) To soften the tragedy, to lighten or to 'prettify' the inevitability of death or madness, or to mask the ugliness or the pity of profound turpitude (e.g. treachery, ingratitude); and/or thus to enable the speaker or his auditor or both to endure, to 'carry on'.

12) To speak or 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.

13) For ease of social intercourse. (Not to be confused or merged with the preceding.)

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

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

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

17) To be secret - not understood by those around one. (Children, students, lovers, members of political secret societies, and criminals in or out of prison, innocent persons in prison, are the chief exponents.)

So to return to that question: what becomes of slang? Firstly, the general `flattening out' of a hierarchical society and the relaxation of linguistic prejudices mean that slang may come to be seen not as something inherently substandard, but as an option among many available linguistic styles. At the same time there must always be a set of words and phrases which is beyond the reach of most speakers, that is always `deviant', `transgressive' and opaque. This slang must renew itself, not just in implied contrast with `standard' Introduction language, but with earlier versions of itself. So new slang words will continue to sprout, to metamorphose, to wither and disappear or else to spread and fertilize the common ground of language. [25].This process may now be more visible and familiar, the crossover phenomenon may happen much faster (given the complicity of the media), and the shock value of the terms themselves may be lessened (the invention and use of slang does risk becoming locked into familiarity and cliche, like the tired gestures of rock, rap, conceptual art and fashion), but it is very unlikely ever to stop.


1. Арнольд И.В. Лексикология современного английского языка.: учебник для ин-тов и фак. иностр. языка.- 3-е издание, перераб и доп.- М.: Высшая школа, 1986.- 295с.

2. Голденков М.А. Осторожно! Hot Dog!:Современный активный английский.- ТОО "ЧеРо",1999-148с.

3. Каушанская Л.В. Грамматика английского языка.: Учебник для студ. пед.институтов.- 4-е издание.- Л.: Просвещение,1973.- 319с.

4. Раевская Н.М.. Теоретическая грамматика современного английского языка.: Для студентов факультетов романо-германской филологии университетов и педагогических институтов иностранных языков (на английском языке).-К.: Высшая школа,1976.- 383с.

5. Richard A. Spears, Ewart James, Ewart James NTC's Super-Mini British Slang Dictionary ,NTC Publishing Group

6. Eble, C. Slang and Sociability. London and Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

7.Dumas, Bethany K. and Jonathan Lighter. 1978. "Is Slang a Word for Linguists?" American Speech 53: 5-17.

8. Mattiello Elisa. The Pervasiveness of Slang in Standard and Non- Standard English.- Mots Palabras Words-6/2005.-41p.

9. Thorne Tony. Dictionary of Contemporary Slang.-third edition.; A.C.Black, London, 2007.-513p.

10. .Pavlova . N.V., Kuleshova Y.A.. Slang as a Part of the English Language.-English 2003 №32-p.5-10

11 Ayto John, The Oxford Dictionary of Slang.-Oxford University, Press.: 2000-415p.

12.Crystal D., The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language.-Cambridge University: Press. 1996-712p.

13. Baker B. // Adventures of Slangman.- Los Angeles Times, September 29, 2003

14. Thorne T. Slang, style-shifting and sociability.// Multicultural Perspectives on English Language and Literature -Tallinn/London 2004.

15. www.

16. questions-about/British-slang




20. www.

21. www.

22. http://

23. www.arrse.


25. www. slang/








34. http:/

35. http://

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