most good slang harks back to the stage in human culture when animism was a
worldwide religion. At that time, it was believed that all objects had two
aspects, one external and objective that could be perceived by the senses, the
other imperceptible (except to gifted individuals) but identical with what we
today would call the "real" object. Human survival depended upon the
manipulation of all "real" aspects of life--hunting, reproduction,
warfare, weapons, design of habitations, nature of clothing or decoration,
etc.--through control or influence upon the animus, or imperceptible phase of
reality. This influence was exerted through many aspects of sympathetic magic,
one of the most potent being the use of language. Words, therefore, had great
power, because they evoked the things to which they referred.
and their languages retain many remnants of animism, largely on the unconscious
level. In Western languages, the metaphor owes its power to echoes of
sympathetic magic, and slang utilizes certain attributes of the metaphor to
evoke images too close for comfort to "reality." For example, to
refer to a woman as a "broad" is automatically to increase her girth
in an area in which she may fancy herself as being thin. Her reaction may,
thus, be one of anger and resentment, if she happens to live in a society in
which slim hips are considered essential to feminine beauty. Slang, then, owes
much of its power to shock to the superimposition of images that are
incongruous with images (or values) of others, usually members of the dominant
culture. Slang is most popular when its imagery develops incongruity bordering
on social satire. Every slang word, however, has its own history and reasons
for popularity. When conditions change, the term may change in meaning, be
adopted into the standard language, or continue to be used as slang within
certain enclaves of the population. Nothing is flatter than dead slang. In
1910, for instance, "Oh you kid" and "23-skiddoo" were
quite stylish phrases in the U.S. but they have gone with the hobble skirt.
Children, however, unaware of anachronisms, often revive old slang under a
barrage of older movies rerun on television.
Some slang becomes
respectable when it loses its edge; "spunk," "fizzle,"
"spent," "hit the spot," "jazz,"
"funky," and "p.o.'d," once thought to be too indecent for
feminine ears, are now family words. Other slang survives for centuries, like
"bones" for dice (Chaucer), "beat it" for run away
(Shakespeare), "duds" for clothes, and "booze" for liquor
(Dekker). These words must have been uttered as slang long before appearing in
print, and they have remained slang ever since. Normally, slang has both a high
birth and death rate in the dominant culture, and excessive use tends to dull
the lustre of even the most colourful and descriptive words and phrases. The
rate of turnover in slang words is undoubtedly encouraged by the mass media,
and a term must be increasingly effective to survive.
While many slang
words introduce new concepts, some of the most effective slang provides new
expressions--fresh, satirical, shocking--for established concepts, often very
respectable ones. Sound is sometimes used as a basis for this type of slang,
as, for example, in various phonetic distortions (e.g., pig Latin terms). It is
also used in rhyming slang, which employs a fortunate combination of both sound
and imagery. Thus, gloves are "turtledoves" (the gloved hands
suggesting a pair of billing doves), a girl is a "twist and twirl"
(the movement suggesting a girl walking), and an insulting imitation of flatus,
produced by blowing air between the tip of the protruded tongue and the upper
lip, is the "raspberry," cut back from "raspberry tart."
Most slang, however, depends upon incongruity of imagery, conveyed by the
lively connotations of a novel term applied to an established concept. Slang is
not all of equal quality, a considerable body of it reflecting a simple need to
find new terms for common ones, such as the hands, feet, head, and other parts
of the body. Food, drink, and sex also involve extensive slang vocabulary.
Strained or synthetically invented slang lacks verve, as can be seen in the
desperate efforts of some sportswriters to avoid mentioning the word
baseball--e.g., a batter does not hit a baseball but rather "swats the
horsehide," "plasters the pill," "hefts the old apple over
the fence," and so on.
The most effective
slang operates on a more sophisticated level and often tells something about
the thing named, the person using the term, and the social matrix against which
it is used. Pungency may increase when full understanding of the term depends
on a little inside information or knowledge of a term already in use, often on
the slang side itself. For example, the term Vatican roulette (for the rhythm
system of birth control) would have little impact if the expression Russian
roulette were not already in wide usage.
Для подготовки данной работы были использованы
материалы с сайта http://www.homeenglish.ru/