oa Alternation - Swamp-donkeys and rippers: the use of slang and pejorative terms to name 'the other'

Volume 11, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



The term 'slang' is defined by the Collins English Dictionary (1979) as vocabulary and idiom that is not appropriate to the standard form of a language or to formal contexts. While the notion of 'standard' is itself problematic, in that it is associated with connotations of prestige and power, it usually refers to a codified form of language (usually written), which is commonly understood by most or all the members of a linguistic community. In contrast, slang is more typically restricted and localised in relation to social status or distribution, and is characteristically much more metaphorical and transitory than standard language. This is quite a loose and general definition, however, as the notion of slang is not stable and precise, but 'is a relative concept ... [and therefore] changes in neutral or formal usage will lead to changes in what is seen as slang' (Anderson & Trudgill 1990:69).

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