What is SLANG? It’s not so hard to identify it, yet for someone who doesn’t read or knows much, a simple unknown word may sound like one.
In the Dictionary we may find the word: SLANG = as being a type of language consisting of words and phrases that are regarded as very informal. They are more common in speech than in writing and are typically restricted to a particular context or group of people. At its first usage, the word SLANG referred to the vocabulary of “low or disreputable” people. Only in the 19th Century it stopped being connected to that kind of people, so it started to be used below the standard educated people.
Though the origin of the word is uncertain, it seems to be connected with the thieves’ cant (it was a secret language (a cant or cryptolect) which was formerly used by thieves, beggars and hustlers of various kinds in Great Britain.
Jonathan Green agrees with the possibility of a Scandinavian origin which says that it may derive from the word SLING which means To throw, taking into consideration the fact that THE SLANG is a thrown language – a quick and honest way to make your point. The United Kingdom seems to have one of the most researched and exhaustive slang vocabularies in existence. The first volume of British slang was published in 1889.
I think that in some way, it ruined the users effort to communicate in a way that only they understood. Everybody was able to search for the unknown words. Maybe this was a reason why they kept developing and renewing the slang. They felt the need to remain secret, to talk only with the person they want to, without “audience”.
Here are some examples of English slang:
All mouth and no trousers — All talk, no action
Take the mickey — To tease or mock.
Old Bill, The Old Bill — A metaphor for a policeman, or the police in general.
The Fuzz — The Police
Lag — A convict, especially one who served or is serving a long prison sentence.
The slang is a rude form of expression, it is restrictive, imaginative and rather spoken, than written. Slang is not used in formal writings. Maybe in books, but there also to express the cultural context and to create a certain image of the village or people.
It is restrictive because it’s not known and used by everybody. There are certain groups which may use it, as: college students, small groups of people, the people in jail…
We are witnessing the fact that the language is developing and changing more and more each day.
For example, we have in Romania slang as:
Mișto/ Ca lumea/ Beton/ Marfă = it means COOL
Nasol/Nașpa/ Aiurea = Not so cool, Ugly
Nu mă aburi = Don’t try to fool me!
Cară-te = Get lost!