Phat [was Re: gay/ghey/ghay]

Jonathon Green slang at ABECEDARY.NET
Wed Jun 2 14:36:48 UTC 2004

>         "Pseudo-slang" was just a made-up term I used to refer to words
> like "fuck" that are frequently denigrated as slang but are not in fact
> slang.
> John Baker

If I might throw in another ten penn'orth/cents: I don't think, with
respect to John Baker,  that _fuck_, and other taboo terms that started
off life as mainstream (if not exactly 'standard') English but by c.1700
were considered off-limits, are so much 'pseudo-slang' which to me, at
least, implies a degree of deliberate contrivance, but slang 'faut de
mieux'. Excluded from polite use (although the cites never stop coming)
and mainstream lexicography they remained in the wider lexis, but found
themselves 'rescued', at least as far as dictionaries are concerned, by
the slang lexicographers. (Indeed I'm not sure that _fuck_ appears in any
mainstream dict. other than Florio's Italian-English _World of Words_
(1598), where it translates 'fottere'). Not that all of them found such
inclusion that comfortable, thus Francis Grose's notation in The Classical
Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (1785):  'F--k, to copulate', not to mention
'C--t, a nasty word for a nasty thing'. And my predecessor Eric Partridge,
at least in the earlier editions of a book that first appeared in 1937,
also had recourse to hyphens. (Though his predecessors, Farmer & Henley
[1890-1904], spelt everything out).

I would suggest that slang lexicgraphers still see _fuck_ and its taboo
kin as 'theirs.' And as genuine slang. Although such terms are beginning
to appear in mainstream lexica. ('Motherfucker', for instance, receives
extensive coverage in the online edition of the OED - labelled as 'coarse
slang'). Certainly I could not imagine excluding such words from any
dictionary of mine, and Jonathan Lighter certainly has them in the HDAS.
And the combinations thereof - see Jesse's magisterial 'F-Word' - are
surely slang and nothing else.

Phat: More anecdotal evidence. My elder son - 26, white, big hiphop fan
since back in the day - has just appeared in a tracksuit jacket emblazoned
with the word Phat (it is made by the clothing firm Phat Farm, which sell,
for lack of a better description, 'hip-hop fashions.') Offered the idea
that the word is an acronym he offered me a dismssive snort. He goes for
'fat', mis-spelt. As I say, strictly anecdotal. Not to mention British.

Jonathon Green

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