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  1. 1. Slang Language and Culture WTUC
  2. 2. The Power of Slang <ul><li>In 1892, Walt Whitman described slang as “the start of fancy, imagination and humor, breathing into its nostrils the breath of life.” </li></ul><ul><li>In the century-plus since Whitman’s lyrical characterization, the America that Whitman knew has been radically transformed by immigration, industrialization, urbanization and mass communication. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Slang of American youth <ul><li>Because of these changes and for the reasons suggested by Whitman, slang — with its breath of life — has permeated everyday speech. </li></ul><ul><li>Slang is to a large extent ephemeral, and so to survive it must constantly regenerate; both the ephemeral and regenerative traits are nowhere more apparent than in the slang of American youth. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Slang’s popularity <ul><li>Slang pervades American speech to a startling degree. Its popularity can be gauged by the rush of journalists, politicians and purveyors of popular culture to embrace the latest word or phrase to spice up a newspaper headline, stump speech, advertisement or television script. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Symphony in Slang <ul><li>Watch short clip </li></ul>
  6. 6. Sense of Commonality <ul><li>Slang’s primary reason for being, to establish a sense of commonality among its speakers, further ensures its widespread use. When slang is used, there is a subtext to the primary message. That subtext speaks to the speaker’s and listeners’ membership in the same “tribe.” </li></ul>
  7. 7. Tribe <ul><li>Because “tribe” identity is so important, slang as a powerful and graphic manifestation of that identity’s benefits. At times the primary message is not in the meaning of what is said, but in the very use of slang — a compelling example of how the medium can be the message. </li></ul>
  8. 8. 4 Factors <ul><li>The four factors that are the most likely to produce slang are youth, oppression, sports and vice, which provide an impetus to coin and use slang for different sociolinguistic reasons. </li></ul><ul><li>Of these four factors, youth is the most powerful stimulus for the creation and distribution of slang. </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>When we are young, we are subject to the generational imperative to invent a slang vocabulary that we perceive as our own, rejecting the slang of our older brothers and sisters (let alone our parents) in favor of a new lexicon. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Born in the USA <ul><li>The Global Spread of American Slang Slang lets young people around the world share a common culture. </li></ul><ul><li>American slang has become a global code, with colorful examples from the German music scene.  </li></ul>
  11. 11. Cool , wicked , chill , dope , nerd . <ul><li>Young people around the world use this kind of slang to show they’re connected to American pop culture. </li></ul><ul><li>Slang’s main social function is to signal belonging: American slang marks the speaker or writer as an active and informed member of global youth culture. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Exclusive and global <ul><li>Vernacular English is powerfully expressive because — paradoxically — it is both exclusive and global. In any host society, American slang lives in a world of linguistic and cultural knowledge not available at school or in mainstream media. </li></ul><ul><li>American slang lives in the specialized media of the young, such as CD booklets, songs and video clips, magazines and Web sites. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Global code for youth <ul><li>Through the media, young people enter fan communities where they learn to incorporate certain forms of English into both their speech and writing to show that they’re a part of youth culture. </li></ul><ul><li>As a result, American slang and related resources have become a global code for youth worldwide embedded in a local code — the national language. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Flipped out = ausgeflippt , flippato , and flippé <ul><li>When host languages incorporate slang and jargon, speakers inflect loan nouns and verbs just like native items and build compounds of English and native nouns. </li></ul><ul><li>For instance, flipped out comes as ausgeflippt in German, flippato in Italian, flippé in French, and fliparisménos in Greek. </li></ul>
  15. 15. American loanwords <ul><li>In German, English verb phrases are partially translated, yielding abchecken ( check out ), ausflippen ( flip out ), abhängen ( hang out ), abrippen ( rip off ), among others. Interestingly, American loanwords are easier to integrate into German. </li></ul><ul><li>This is probably because German is more closely related to English than say, French or Hungarian. And since American culture is considered highly prestigious among many Germans, American loanwords are absorbed into German culture at a high rate. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Signals social identity <ul><li>How American slang is used abroad quickly signals social identity. For example, while items such as hi , cool and cu ( as in ‘ see you ’ ) are spreading into general German slang, openers such as aight heads have a specific social meaning among hip-hop enthusiasts. They identify writer (and addressee) not only as trendy young people, but as members of the same fan community, (in this case, Hip Hop). </li></ul>
  17. 17. Slang, and English as a Foreign Language <ul><li>While the global spread of American slang items is pervasive, the categories of words the items represent are restricted to a handful of semantic fields. These include: </li></ul><ul><li>Terms for social groups and stereotypes — girlie , gangsta , loser </li></ul><ul><li>Parts of the body and or states of mind — German flashen ( to flash , 'to impress to have a strong effect on') or chillen ( to chill out ) </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluating adjectives — wicked , wack , cool , dope , fresh </li></ul><ul><li>Taboo words or expletives </li></ul><ul><li>Equally interestingly, what is perceived as slang in a new context need not always be slang in the donor language. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Conversational Routines <ul><li>greetings and farewells — hi , hey , what's up , bye , cu , peace , cheers </li></ul><ul><li>thanks and apologies — thanx, sorry </li></ul><ul><li>discourse markers — ok , anyway , whatever , yeah , yes </li></ul><ul><li>various “chunks” — no way! that's all! I'm ready! let's go! shut up! </li></ul>
  19. 19. English routines <ul><li>English routines are innovation-friendly patterns, which make it easy for speakers to “freshen up” their language through individual word fillings, modifications and extensions. </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>A case in point is cu (‘see you’), one of the most popular farewell expressions on the German-speaking Web. Besides the base form ( cu, cya, see ya ), it comes in variations such as CYA Peace / See ya, aloha / cu bis denne (‘till then’) / CU & Bye bye / cu l8er / cYa soon / cu soon and there / CU@NIGHT , etc. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Vernacular Spellings <ul><li>In print and on the Internet, English often comes with non-standard spellings that may indicate colloquial or non-standard pronunciation (e.g. gimme ) or may serve as purely visual distinction (eye dialect). </li></ul>
  22. 22. Vernacular spelling patterns <ul><li>The following vernacular spelling patterns are common in various countries: </li></ul><ul><li>participial suffix -in' (e.g. livin', movin', rockin' ) </li></ul><ul><li>reductions, assimilations (e.g. wanna, ya, mo' ) </li></ul><ul><li>noun plural ending -a/-ah instead of -er (e.g. brotha, sistah ) </li></ul><ul><li>noun plural ending -z for -s (e.g. newz, boyz, beatz, propz ) </li></ul><ul><li>spelling variants ph and k (e.g. phat, phunky, kool, komradz ) </li></ul><ul><li>lexical substitutions (e.g. u, 2, 4, cu la8tr) </li></ul>
  23. 23. Slang, Globalization and English as a Foreign Language <ul><li>American slang has a global currency in youth-cultural contexts. It is not transmitted through the institutional teaching of English as a Foreign Language (EFL). Rather, it is the outcome of rapid linguistic transfer via non-curricular sources, reaching German teenagers before entering English-language dictionaries. </li></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>Vernacular English has very different pragmatic and sociolinguistic values from institutional EFL. Its attractiveness rests on emotional and peer-group related values rather than purely instrumental ones, such as English as a job-related tool. </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>However, American slang does not threaten institutional EFL. The relationship is best viewed as complementary, both linguistically and in terms of language attitudes. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge of slang extends the knowledge of English with respect to particular semantic fields and speech styles. </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>Although slang could never substitute for EFL in its instrumental value, it clearly connects foreign-language learning with adolescent cultural experience. </li></ul>
  27. 27. YOU'VE GOT E-MAIL <ul><li>E-mail, used by almost 90 million Americans, has been changing human communication for almost a decade. Terence Smith reports on e-mail and its effects on American culture. </li></ul><ul><li>The NewsHour Media Unit is funded by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts </li></ul>
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