The nature of slang and HDAS

Sat Jun 21 23:01:42 UTC 2003

        I don't see any basis for the claim that slang (or language in general) is exclusively oral.  Slang is less formal than most writing, but there has been increasing use of informal writing in the past two centuries or so.  I would argue that "O.K.," which originally was a jocular abbreviation for "oll korrect," likely has its origins in written rather than spoken language.  Newspapers probably played an important role in the early use of "jazz," before the word was applied to music, and it is possible (though not likely) that the word could have been made up by the journalist who seems first to have popularized it.  I'm tempted to add "yuppie," but Fred Shapiro says it was used orally in the 1970s.  (Incidentally, I see "yuppie" used in the Dallas Morning News on 7/19/82; is this an antedating?)  Even television scripts, another important source of slang, are written before they are spoken.

John Baker

More information about the Ads-l mailing list