An initial 4A N2...?

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Sun Jun 30 17:17:36 UTC 2002

Under what definition  of slang are such items (emphatically even) NOT slang?


>In a message dated 06/30/2002 10:02:18 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
>douglas at NB.NET writes:
>>  These things are cute, analogous to those restaurant codes ("86" etc.) and
>>   those CB radio codes ("10-4" etc.).
>How many restaurant "codes" are numeric, e.g. "86"?
>On the other hand, the "10-" codes are numerous and are NOT slang.  In fact
>they long antedate CB radio.  I don't know (does someone else on the list?)
>where they originated, but they were widely adopted by police departments by
>the 1960's.  In fact there was a 1950's television show, entitled (I think)
>"Highway Patrol" about the California Highway Patrol in which the 10- codes
>were extensively used.
>I recall reading an article by a police officer ca. 1969 in which he
>discovered, to his surprise, when joining a new department that the 10- codes
>were NOT identical to those he was used to.  Apparently the 10- code, like
>proto-Indo-European, has developed geographical dialects.
>One might argue that the 10- codes were picked up by CB-ers from the TV show.
>  Before CB became fashionable and widely discussed (during the 1974 version
>of the Energy Crisis), it was used by truck drivers, who quite likely picked
>it up from the police with whom they had numerous chances to, shall we say,
>exchange shop talk.
>The ones best known to the general public:
>     10-4          OK
>     10-20        present location
>     10-200      still another euphemism for certain inescapable body functions
>>>From 10-200 we get the expression "home 20" meaning "where you are from".
>          - Jim Landau

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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