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AACL 2008 – BYU – March 13-15 2008 . American slang in mainstream magazine writing. Anna Belladelli University of Verona, Italy.

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American slang in mainstream magazine writing

AACL 2008 – BYU – March 13-15 2008

American slang in mainstream magazine writing

Anna Belladelli

University of Verona, Italy


American slang in mainstream magazine writing

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)


What is slang
What is slang? patience, and wide-ranging interests: one must explore traditional sources of words and grammatical patterns, like books and magazines; but

SLANG SHOULD NO LONGER BE DESCRIBED AS

  • Appendix of standard language

  • Curious vocabulary

  • Created at the peripheries of society

  • Used secretly, occasionally

    SLANG IS

  • Ordinary competence of language users (Eble 1996)

  • Unsanitized vocabulary

  • Vehicle of identity and cultural heritage

  • Used extensively


Starting point cosmopolitan 2007
Starting Point: patience, and wide-ranging interests: one must explore traditional sources of words and grammatical patterns, like books and magazines; but Cosmopolitan (2007)

Slang – the alleged “speech of the peripheries” – is used by the center  the magazine itself

Indeed, it is widely used in:

  • HEADLINES

  • SUBHEADS

  • CAPTIONS

    Conversely, it is hardly found in:

  • QUOTATIONS  the experts’ and interviewees’ voice

  • LETTERS  the readers’ voice

  • BODY OF THE TEXT


Where is slang
Where is slang? patience, and wide-ranging interests: one must explore traditional sources of words and grammatical patterns, like books and magazines; but


Where is slang1
Where is slang? patience, and wide-ranging interests: one must explore traditional sources of words and grammatical patterns, like books and magazines; but


Cosmopolitan section you you you 2007
Cosmopolitan patience, and wide-ranging interests: one must explore traditional sources of words and grammatical patterns, like books and magazines; but Section “You, you, you” (2007)

Top five most frequent slang lexemes:

  • CHICK

  • HOT

  • BUDDY

  • COOL

  • PAD

    All “basic slang lexemes” (Moore 2004)


Corpus
Corpus patience, and wide-ranging interests: one must explore traditional sources of words and grammatical patterns, like books and magazines; but

TIME Magazine Corpus (1923-2006)

  • online, free-access corpus

  • mainstream weekly magazine

  • interface by Mark Davies (Brigham Young University)


Buddy
Buddy patience, and wide-ranging interests: one must explore traditional sources of words and grammatical patterns, like books and magazines; but


Buddy collocates
Buddy - Collocates patience, and wide-ranging interests: one must explore traditional sources of words and grammatical patterns, like books and magazines; but

(Function: NOUN)

(Function: NOUN)

(Function: ADJECTIVE)

good

war/wartime

your + adj.

their

wounded

her

golf/golfing

high school

my + adj.

her + adj.

11

10

8

8

7

7

6

6

6

4

movie

system

list

comedy

film

16

13

10

5

3

his

a/the/Ø

his + adj.

my

old + adj.

old

your

Army

bosom

drinking

177

172

102

28

27

27

16

15

12

12


Buddy as social label
Buddy as Social Label patience, and wide-ranging interests: one must explore traditional sources of words and grammatical patterns, like books and magazines; but

It always describes a male-male(s) bond.

Only 3.4% of occurrences (1923-2006) has a female or mixed referent:

IMPOSED LABEL

(2.5%)

The journalist, or a male third party (e.g. male interviewee), describes a couple or group of female or mixed friends as “buddies”

SELF-ATTRIBUTED LABEL

(0.9%)

A female describes her own male or female friend(s) as “buddy/buddies”

children

love affairs

socially inappropriate

behaviors


Chick
Chick patience, and wide-ranging interests: one must explore traditional sources of words and grammatical patterns, like books and magazines; but


Chick collocates
Chick - Collocates patience, and wide-ranging interests: one must explore traditional sources of words and grammatical patterns, like books and magazines; but

(Function: NOUN)

(Function: ADJECTIVE)

flick

lit(erature)

rock

thing

6

3

2

2

a/the/Ø

Dixie

white

this/these

his

his + adj.

biker

hot

young

Commando

51

29

12

8

5

4

4

4

4

4


Chick as social label
Chick as Social Label patience, and wide-ranging interests: one must explore traditional sources of words and grammatical patterns, like books and magazines; but

It always describes a young, clueless, and attractive woman, although the reference can be serious, sexist, playful, or critical, according to the context.

IMPOSED LABEL

(78.6%)

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.

SELF-ATTRIBUTED LABEL

(21.4%)

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

to typecast

other women

members of the star system

COSMOPOLITAN’S

FICTIONAL WOMAN


Concluding remarks
Concluding Remarks patience, and wide-ranging interests: one must explore traditional sources of words and grammatical patterns, like books and magazines; but

  • STARTING POINT: Cosmopolitan 2007

    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)

  • THIS STUDY: Time Magazine 1923-2006

    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.


Anna belladelli

Thank you patience, and wide-ranging interests: one must explore traditional sources of words and grammatical patterns, like books and magazines; but

Anna Belladelli

anna.belladelli@univr.it


References
References patience, and wide-ranging interests: one must explore traditional sources of words and grammatical patterns, like books and magazines; but

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 [1989]), 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.