Slang, being one of the integral parts of English vocabulary, has recently energetically penetrated into books, everyday speech and the film industry. In the modern world, language is constantly developing. Language is inseparable from culture, being a product and reflection of the culture of its bearers. Events that relate to humanity directly affect the development of spoken language, are reflected in various languages of the world and add more and more phrases and expressions to the vocabulary of modern society. Political elections, wars or technological progress are all examples of the constant changes of the modern world that affect the emergence of new, more modern slang.
In the Middle Ages, such writers as Jeffrey Chaucer, William Caxton, William Malmesbury revealed territorial differences in pronunciation and dialects. This was the first definition of the concept of “slang”. However, the modern meaning of the concept of “slang” did not appear earlier than the 16th-17th centuries. At the end of the 16th century the English Jargon appeared. It was a new kind of speech used by criminals and scammers in drinking establishments and gambling houses. At first English Criminal Jargon was considered foreign. So, many scientists assumed that it either originated in Romania, or had something to do with the French language.
There are several works devoted specifically to the thieves’ language, dating back to the 15th-16th centuries. One of the most significant works in this area is the dictionary by H. Harm (London, 1565), whose work was inspired by the work of R. Copeland (Co-plend R. The Hye Way to the Spyttel Hous, 1530-1540).
Later, numerous works followed, in which, along with jargon, “slang” vocabulary was used. Among them, the most prominent are: Greene R. “A notable discovery of coosnage” (1591); Th. Dekker “The shoemaker’s holiday” (1599); R. Head “Canting academy, or villainies discovered” (1674); “The dictionary of the canting crew, ancient and modern, of gypsies, beggars, thieves”, London, 1699 2.
In 1736, “Canting Dictionary thieving slang” by N. Bailey was published, which contains many examples of slang related to sex, prison slang and even street slang expressions of the 17th century.
As of today, there is no consensus on the interpretation of the concept of “slang”. It does not contain terminological precision, and different linguists imply different meanings. Numerous dictionaries offer different interpretations of this concept. For example, “Oxford Dictionary & Th?s?urus of Current English” gives the following definition: “… a type of the language of a variety of words and phrases that are considered as very informal, are more common in speech than writing, and are restricted to a particular cont?xt or group of people “6.
The “Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English” offers another interpretation: “… very informal, sometimes offensive,” that is, especially people who belong to the particular group, such as young people or criminals. “5.
Among the researchers of slang there is also no shared view on the interpretation of the concept of “slang”. One of the famous explorers of slang E. Partridge, as well as his followers J. Greenock and K.I. Kittridge defines slang as “… the quite unstable, unstable, not codified, and often completely disorderly and random totality of lexemes that reflect the public consciousness of people belonging to a particular social or professional environment” 2, p. 9.
Thus, slang is seen as the deliberate use of elements of the literary standard in colloquial speech for purely stylistic purposes:
– to create the effect of novelty, unusualness, difference from universally recognized samples;
– to reflect a certain mood of the speaker, to give the utterance a concreteness, liveliness, expressiveness, brevity, imagery.
Such stylistic means as metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, euphemism, litota help to achieve these goals 2.
Another well-known researcher of slang J. Hotten describes slang as a street language full of humor.
Often slang is looked upon in the so-called “psychological aspect”. Slang implies a certain product of individual linguistics of representatives of certain social and professional groups. It is the linguistic formulation of the social consciousness of people belonging to one or another medium.
The etymology of the term “slang” also generates a huge amount of controversy among researchers. It is one of the most controversial and intricate issues in English lexicology. The difficulty in revealing the origin of the term lies in its multivaluedness and different interpretation of slang by the authors of dictionaries and research over the last two hundred years. The term “slang” was first mentioned in the literature, such as: “Language of a low or vulgar type” in 1756. Thus, it is possible to trace the evolution of the development of this concept. Since 1802, slang has been understood to mean: “The cant or jargon of a certain period”, and since 1818 the term “Language of a highly colloquial type” has been taken into account, it is considered as below the level of standard educated speech, and or of the current words used in some special sense “3, p. 381.