Phat [was Re: gay/ghey/ghay]

Wed Jun 2 18:00:13 UTC 2004

        But it's not used in place of a standard term.

        MW11 has a different definition, which does not include the "in place of a standard term" concept but apparently would not include "fuck" either:  "an informal nonstandard vocabulary composed typically of coinages, arbitrarily changed words, and extravagant, forced, or facetious figures of speech."

        To round out the popular shorter dictionaries (I'm at the office and don't have the OED or Webster's Third handy), here's Webster's New World College Dictionary 4th:  "highly informal speech that is outside conventional or standard usage and consists both of coined words and phrases and of new or extended meanings attached to established terms:  slang develops from the attempt to find fresh and vigorous, colorful, pungent, or humorous expression, and generally either passes into disuse or comes to have a more formal status."  Again, that wouldn't include "fuck."

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
Of Jesse Sheidlower
Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2004 12:05 PM
Subject: Re: Phat [was Re: gay/ghey/ghay]

On Wed, Jun 02, 2004 at 11:15:31AM -0400, Baker, John wrote:

>         I think that the last time around, the majority
> view, which I found convincing, was that words such as
> "fuck" were not in fact slang.  Consider the AHD4 definition
> of "slang":
>         <<NOUN: 1. A kind of language occurring chiefly in
> casual and playful speech, made up typically of short-lived
> coinages and figures of speech that are deliberately used in
> place of standard terms for added raciness, humor,
> irreverence, or other effect. 2. Language peculiar to a
> group; argot or jargon: thieves' slang.>>
>         "Fuck" doesn't really fit either of these
> definitions, even though AHD4 and other dictionaries do
> label it as slang.

It doesn't fit? I do think that "fuck" occurs chiefly in
casual speech and is deliberately used for added raciness or
irreverence or other effect. The purportedly "short-lived"
nature of slang is something I've always thought is wrong, but
since AHD modifies it with "typically" we can ignore it here.

Jesse Sheidlower

More information about the Ads-l mailing list