Free Resources for Students and Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in China - by Paul Sparks

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Paul Sparks - Online English Lesson Plans, Lesson Material and Ideas for Oral English Lessons, Hunan University of Science and Technology...



ORAL ENGLISH: Slang Words and Phrases


Characteristics of Slang



  • Slang is constantly changing: slang words change more quickly than "regular" vocabulary but they change in the same ways.


  • New slang replaces old slang.


  • When we have a new area of meaning people come up with new slang. New computer slang like blog, or the term crack used for cocaine, are a couple of examples.


  • There are lots of slang words for taboo subjects. There are a great number of terms for race, gender, drugs, sex, going to the bathroom, and alcohol consumption.


  • Some slang is associated with a particular time period.


  • People who spend a lot of time together often wear similar clothes, have similar hair styles, and using similar language. Knowing and using slang words that come from your community mark you a member, but using slang words for a group you are not a part of might bring ridicule.


  • While much of slang is local, there are many regional and national slang terms.


  • Slang is not jargon! Jargon is the language of a profession or a hobby.


  • Slang is not "bad grammar." When we talk about slang, we are talking about words and phrases, not sentence structure. This means that non-Standard varieties of English, Appalachian English or African American Vernacular English (AAVE) are not slang - but like all other varieties of English, speakers of these dialects use slang when socially appropriate.





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