An initial 4A N2...?

Donald M Lance lancedm at MISSOURI.EDU
Mon Jul 1 15:56:40 UTC 2002

on 7/1/02 10:34 AM, Dave Wilton at dave at WILTON.NET wrote:

>> To confuse the issue, a word can be slang, jargon, and
>> standard at the same time, depending on use and meaning.
>> Example: "jazz", whose origins have been disucssed at
>> length on this list.  With the meaning "a type of music"
>> it is standard English.  With the meaning "to have sexual
>> intercourse" it is slang. "To jazz up (a piece of music)"
>> is a jargon term to musicians, as it has a specific
>> technical meaning that one could write books about;
>> however, this usage is so well known to the general public
>> that arguably it is standard English.
> "Slang" and "jargon" are not mutually exclusive categories, even for a
> single group. Both jargon and slang are categories of nonstandard language,
> but there the similarity in categorization ends. Slang is categorized by its
> informality and while it is associated with a particular social grouping,
> those groupings are often rather vaguely defined.

Are 'cool' 'pot' 'grass' slang?  Though they may be "associated with a
particular social grouping," they aren't used only by those groups.  These
terms are widely used but aren't exactly "standard."  What about a term like
'threads' for clothing?  Examples of why it's so hard to define 'slang'.


> "Jargon" on the other hand
> is language specific to a profession or discipline. Jargon can be either
> formal (ventricular tachycardia) or informal/slang (bumsickle). The
> definitions do not use the same criteria for categorization and have wide
> room for overlap.
> But, a single sense of a word cannot be simultaneously standard and
> jargon/slang. Both jargon and slang are categories of nonstandard language;
> they can't also be standard. So if "jazz it up" is a standard English phrase
> (I would agree that it is), then in becoming standard it has ceased to be
> jargon or slang. You might designate it as "from musical jargon," but that
> is distinctly in the past.

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