FW: An initial 4A N2...?

Frank Abate abatefr at EARTHLINK.NET
Mon Jul 1 20:22:25 UTC 2002

RE what Jesse S points out below, and his example _bumsickle_:

Given that it is not a substitute term for some common term (the core idea
behind slang, per Fred Cassidy), I'd label this "informal".  However, it is
certainly true that it feels "slangy".

Because of the widespread misunderstanding or murkiness of the meaning of
"slang", the (UK) New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) took the extreme
step of not using the "slang" label at all.  They used "informal" instead.
This struck me as going too far.  All slang is informal, but not all that it
informal is slang.  A good example is _bumsickle_.

Oh, and btw, might it be spelled "bumsicle", on the grounds that it is a
play on _Popsicle_, the brand name for a frozen treat?

Frank Abate

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
Of Jesse Sheidlower
Sent: Sunday, June 30, 2002 9:58 PM
Subject: Re: An initial 4A N2...?

On Sun, Jun 30, 2002 at 09:49:44PM -0400, James A. Landau wrote:
> I say yes.  If a word is jargon, it is not slang.  If an employer gives
> employees a glossary of words which the employees are required to use,
> the words in that glossary have become jargon.
> A clarificaition:  a word can be part of the technical vocabulary of one
> group, and therefore jargon as far as that group is concerned, yet be
> to the outside world.  "Homer" was the only example I could think of.  A
> baseball player is not unlikely to get into a discussion of the alleged
> home-team bias of a particular umpire, and therefore finds "homer" meaning
> "umpire biased towards the home team" as part of his technical vocabulary.
> To the fan in the stands, however, "homer" is merely another, and not very
> necessary, term for a home run.
> Yes, a word or term can simultaneously be jargon, within a particular
> and slang outside that group.  See examples above.

I'm not sure I agree with this--why can't there be a word which is both
jargon, in that it is part of the technical vocabulary of some particular
group, and also slang _even to members of that group,_ if it has the
rhetorical marking, insociant, etc. attitudes one would otherwise
consider a hallmark of slang?

For example, take the word _bumsickle,_ in use among medical
personnel to refer to a homeless person suffering from hypothermia.
This would strike me as jargon in that it's got a specific meaning
among medical personnel, it describes something for which there's
no other brief synonym, it would be used in real medical situations
to communicate something etc., but it also strikes me as clearly
slangy for various reasons.

Jesse Sheidlower

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