AACL 2008 – BYU – March 13-15 2008 . American slang in mainstream magazine writing. Anna Belladelli University of Verona, Italy.
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University of Verona, Italy
The study of ephemeral American English takes an open mind, patience, and wide-ranging interests: one must explore traditional sources of words and grammatical patterns, like books and magazines; but one must look at out-of-the-way magazines, not Time or Newsweek […]
(Adams 2000: 384)
SLANG SHOULD NO LONGER BE DESCRIBED AS
Slang – the alleged “speech of the peripheries” – is used by the center the magazine itself
Indeed, it is widely used in:
Conversely, it is hardly found in:
Top five most frequent slang lexemes:
All “basic slang lexemes” (Moore 2004)
TIME Magazine Corpus (1923-2006)
your + adj.
my + adj.
her + adj.
his + adj.
old + adj.
It always describes a male-male(s) bond.
Only 3.4% of occurrences (1923-2006) has a female or mixed referent:
The journalist, or a male third party (e.g. male interviewee), describes a couple or group of female or mixed friends as “buddies”
A female describes her own male or female friend(s) as “buddy/buddies”
his + adj.
It always describes a young, clueless, and attractive woman, although the reference can be serious, sexist, playful, or critical, according to the context.
It is often used in movie summaries to describe a female character, and in quotes by male third parties (e.g. interviewees). In 4.8% of cases, a female is imposing the label.
In the last two decades, a gradual linguistic riappropriation is taking place, and sometimes its advocates manage toparticipate indirectly in mainstream discourse(s).
to define her own group
members of the star system
Chick and buddy are the most frequent slang lexemes, used by the fictional idealized woman as imposed (only apparently self-attributed) labels on real women.
Slang hides a conservative “evaluative structure” (Caldas-Coulthard 1999)
Chick and buddy originated within male discourses and their use has increased through the decades, also following historical events and cultural turns. There is some room for linguistic riappropriation.
ADAMS M. (2000), “Ephemeral Language”, American Speech, 75(4): 382-384.
CALDAS-COULTHARD C. R. (1999), “Women who pay for sex and enjoy it”, in N. COUPLAND and A. JAWORSKI (eds.) Discourse. London: Routledge. 523-540.
EBLE C. (1996), Slang and Sociability. Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press.
FAIRCLOUGH N. (2001 ), Language and Power. London: Longman.
LIGHTER J. E. (1994), Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang. New York: Random House.
MOORE R. L. (2004), “We’re Cool, Mom and Dad Are Swell: Basic Slang and Generational Shifts in Values”. American Speech, 79(1): 59-86.