Slang is an indecent language generally used in informal settings. It is usually associated with a particular group and plays a role in the formation of societal identities. It is not formal and can sometimes offend people. Slangs are more common in verbal conversations rather than written communication. Slangs are mostly specific words and or idioms that have a longer expression and a deeper meaning. Slang speech is characterized by a number of linguistic features that reflect the users’ way of living and using the language with emphasis on belonging to a particular group of the language used. The use of slangs in conversation makes the conversation less formal and friendlier that’s why their use is avoided informal settings to maintain a degree of formality. Students are most likely to use such terms with their peers and friends in order to identify with the institutional setting. Having knowledge of slangs allows you to remain upgraded in your spoken ability, and makes it possible to communicate fluently with people of all generations. Slangs are not bound to be used by a specific gender, rather that is gender-neutral. These phrases or words are not a product of modern society neither do they belong to the past rather they have emerged only recently and taken roots in the society. The use of slang changes a person’s perception of a particular being and may even transform his or her idea about a particular individual.
Slang Words Usage
Slang has a very high level of appeal. This is so because it is a type of poetry, signifying friendliness, commonality, and “inbuilt musicality.” Slang words usually come about when there is a need to convey an attitude or phrase. This does not necessarily mean that there is no word for it already; but that word does not convey the message the speaker wants it to convey. The journal article entitled ‘Forms and Functions of Slang’ illustrates this point by saying “If a slang term comes about at a time of need, then it will crystallize and become part of general linguistic practice. Slang is often used as a way to appear friendly to someone or to identify with a certain group of people or to manifest that you understand popular culture. It shows that you are part of the “in crowd” and that the slang you share is part of your secret language. Another reason of slangs usage is they are funny, racy, rebellious, and humorous. Some of the fun is in rebellion. Slang unfortunately has a bad reputation. Slang rebels against the notion that we must use ‘formal’ English in all places and at all times. The group which uses these words is often in the minority, and employs slangs to set them apart or make it difficult for ordinary people to understand them. The uses of slangs vary to a great degree but they are primarily used to express a certain emotional attitude; the same term may express diametrically opposed attitudes when used by different people.
It has been claimed that slang is created by ingenious individuals to freshen the language, to vitalize it, to make the language more pungent and picturesque, to increase the store of terse and striking words, or to provide a vocabulary for new shades of meaning. Most of the originators of slang, however, are probably not conscious of these noble purposes and do not seem overly concerned about what happens to their language.
Slang fulfills at least two different functions, for the groups that use slang; it is a way to set themselves apart, to express themselves in a distinct and individual way, and sometimes to keep secrets from being known by others. But for the society in general and the development of the language, slang performs another role. For the language, slang is like a linguistic laboratory, where new words and forms can be tested out, applied to a variety of situations, and then either abandoned or incorporated into the regular language. It’s like a trial period for new words. If they allow people to say something that cannot be said using traditional language, and a majority of people accept them, then these words and expressions join their regular language.
Civilized society tends to divide into a dominant culture and various subcultures that flourish within the dominant framework. The subcultures show specialized linguistic phenomena, varying widely in form and content that depends on the nature of the groups and their relation to each other and to the dominant culture. “The New Dictionary of American Slang” by Flexner (1967) points out that in order for a group to generate slang it must be very large and in constant contact with the dominant culture. Once new words are introduced into the dominant culture via television, radio, movies, or newspapers, the rapid movement of individuals and the rapid communication between individuals and groups spread the new word very quickly. Created within groups and subgroups slang is used to express a certain attitude or feeling in order to communicate more quickly and personally. They are mostly used by people to communicate with their peers or friends. The use of slangs becomes so common that it starts changing people’s perception and people’s ideas about a particular individual are seldom influenced by the use of these slangs as people associate specific meanings with these words. These words are mainly used among friends and reflect a certain degree of informality among individuals. They are mostly used to make fun of someone and to create humor i.e. in a negative connotation.