[lg policy] slang, register , jargon, what differs ?

Francis Hult francis.hult at UTSA.EDU
Thu Jan 6 21:18:20 UTC 2011

You said you prefer examples over definitions, but Swann et al.'s (2004) 'Dictionary of Sociolinguistics' offers some useful definitions that you might find helpful to clarify the differences:
Jargon: [2nd def.] "Technical or specialist vocabulary used within a certain social group--most frequently a professional or special interest group...it also has social fucntions, for example marking group membership and excluding non-members" (p. 157).
Register: "Used to refer to variation according to the context in which language is used.  For example, most people speak differently in formal contexts...than in informal contexts...Relatively well defined registers include the language of the law, the language of science and also the language of Hip Hop or jazz." (p. 261).
Slang: "Variously defined but usually seen as a set of informal and colloquial words and phrases used within particular social groups and that are not part of 'mainstream' language" (p. 281).
So I see them as related but referring to different things.  As an example, when employing a legal register, a lawyer might use jargon like "pro se" or slang such as "unicorn defense."  The former is a technical term in the law to mean representing oneself and the latter is a colloquial term among lawyers that refers to the strategy of blaming an imaginary culprit.
Francis M. Hult, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies
University of Texas at San Antonio
Web: http://faculty.coehd.utsa.edu/fhult/
New Book: Directions and Prospects for Educational Linguistics
http://www.springer.com/education+%26+language/linguistics/book/978-90-481-9135-2 <http://www.springerlink.com/content/978-90-481-9135-2> 


From: lgpolicy-list-bounces+francis.hult=utsa.edu at groups.sas.upenn.edu on behalf of mostari hind
Sent: Thu 1/6/2011 1:38 PM
To: Language Policy List
Subject: [lg policy] slang, register , jargon, what differs ? 

Hi , 
Because  as a  teacher of sociolinguistics , I hate explaining concepts using only definitions but rather concrete examples , I was unable to explain to my graduate students the difference between a slang ( which is defined as a speech used by particular groups like soldier , criminals , youth) , register and jargon seem to hold the same meaning , don't they ? 
I welcome explanations because i promised my students a debate on such issue next week .
alllllllll the best 
Dr Mostari

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