An initial 4A N2...?
Dennis R. Preston
preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Mon Jul 1 17:33:29 UTC 2002
>I continue to be puzzled why "jargon" and "slang" can't happily co-exist.
> > 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
>> 'threads' for clothing? Examples of why it's so hard to define 'slang'.
>Drug Slang/ Drug Jargon
>If one defines jargon (the occupational/group variety rather than the
>obfuscational sort, which I don't think has been brought into the discussion
>so far) as a language used by a specific 'occupational' group, then _all_
>drug terminology could be labelled jargon. And as such should be
>disqualified from the slang lexica. But the reality is that certain terms -
>'cool' (used of course in many areas other than drugs), 'pot' and 'grass'
>are good examples - have long since crossed over into mainstream congnisance
>and indeed use. There are many others, 'crack' or 'ecstasy' (MDMA) being
>obvious contenders. So I would place them among slang. There is also,
>surely, an argument to suggest that simply through the numbers of speakers -
>the drug-using 'community' must run into its tens of millions in
>English-speaking countries alone - that the sheer volume of use of these
>words takes them out of the relatively limited world of jargon and into the
>wider one of slang. One suggestion: perhaps the names of drugs tend to be
>slang; the equipment and technique of administration remains jargon. Thus I
>would define 'smack' for heroin as slang, but 'to shoot gravy': for a
>narcotics addict to reinject the blood that has been drawn into the syringe
>and there mixed with the heroin solution, as jargon. Though even here the
>line is permeable: 'joint', a marijuana or hashish cigarette is well known
>and widely used enough to be slang, even though it falls into the area of
>'equipment'. As I say, it is but a suggestion - and the line is in the end
>probably impossible to draw.
Dennis R. Preston
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics and Languages
740 Wells Hall A
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027 USA
Office - (517) 353-0740
Fax - (517) 432-2736
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