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Thursday 4 June 2015



Sociolingustics is concerned with language in social and cultural context especially how people with different social identities (e.g. gender, age, race, ethnicity, class) speak and how their speech changes in different situations. Some of the issues addressed are how features of dialects (ways of pronouncing words, choice of words, patterns of words) cluster together to form personal styles of speech; why people from different communities or cultures can misunderstand what is meant, said and done based on the different ways they use language.

There are two different approaches to Sociolinguistics a Sociolinguistics is concerned with language in social and cultural context, especially how people with different social identities (e.g. gender, age, race, ethnicity, class) speak and how their speech changes in different situations. Some of the issues addressed are how features of dialects (ways of pronouncing words, choice of words, patterns of words) cluster together to form personal styles of speech; why people from different communities or cultures can misunderstand what is meant, said and done based on the different ways they use language.

There are two different approaches to Sociolinguistics are :
1          Micro lingustics
2          Macro lingustics
micro lingustics is a study of languagerelation to society that deals with small groups of people in a certain community of people .
Macro lingustics is a study of language in relation to how society treats the language.
Some of Micro and Macro Sociolinguistics approaches are:
1.Interactional Sociolinguistics.
2.Variationist Sociolinguistics.
3.Historical/ Socio-historical Sociolinguistics.
5.Discourse Analysis.
6.Conversation Analysis.
7.Language planning and policy.

.Conversational Analysis : Language is a wonderful thing. It is essentially what separates human beings from the world's plethora of cohabiting species. We, as humans, have the ability to communicate with one another using any of the world's languages; assuming that your communicator is a speaker of the same language.
conversation then is massively important to us as human beings. We can convey our thoughts and desires to others, influence and entertain through speech. Without it, we certainly wouldn't be the evolved species we are today, and you probably wouldn't be reading this right now!

As linguistics has evolved and become an entirely independent social science, so too has our interest into just how humans interact and what the implications of the types of conversation we use are.

Conversation Analysis arose as a discipline that helps us to delve deeper into the intricacies of conversation.

Discourse Analysis:. There are three ways in which we can describe discourse
  • Firstly, discourse can be described as language beyond the level of the sentence. By this we mean that it is a type of language that extends past features such as sounds (phonetics), structures (syntax) and the parts that make up words (morphology).
  • The second description of discourse concerns language behaviours linked to a social practice; this suggests that a discourse is a type of language.
  • Finally, discourse is described as being a system of thought. This is by far the most scientific description of the three, as it disagrees with the notion that knowledge and truth are either universal or objective. Conversely, it suggests that the ideas about knowledge and truth emerge from particular social and historical situations. An example would be the process of contemporary science and its attempts to produce objective knowledge.
Interactional sociolinguistics:  is a subdiscipline of linguistics that uses discourse analysis to study how language users create meaning via social interaction.
 In terms of research methods, interactional sociolinguists focuses not only on linguistic forms such as words and sentences but also on subtle cues such as prosody and register that signal contextual presupposition. These contextualization cues are culturally specific and usually unconscious. When participants in a conversation come from different cultural backgrounds they may not recognize these subtle cues in one another's speech, leading to misunderstanding.

Sociohistorical linguistics:_ Sociohistorical linguistics, or historical sociolinguistics, is the study of the relationship between language and society in its historical dimension
Sociohistorical linguistics is a relatively new field of linguistic research which represents a merger of two distinct sub-disciplines of linguistics; sociolinguistics and historical (or diachronic) linguistics. Not all linguists believe that sociolinguistic methods can be applied to historical situations. They argue that the sociolinguistic means at our disposal today (e.g. face-to-face interviews, recording of data, large and diverse sampling, etc.) are necessarily unavailable to sociolinguists working on historical developments. They therefore argue that it is exceedingly difficult to do socio-historical linguistics, and that the results will always be suspect due to lack of data and access to native speakers in real-world situations.
Variationist Sociolinguistics: differs from Interactional Sociolinguistics as it focuses on social variation in dialects and examines how this variation is highly structured. This structured variation tells us that this is part of Human language capacity, a built in system of language in a brain.
Dialectology the scientific study of linguistic dialect, a sub-field of sociolinguistics. It studies variations in language based primarily on geographic distribution and their associated features. Dialectology treats such topics as divergence of two local dialects from a common ancestor and synchronic variation.
Dialectologists are ultimately concerned with grammatical, lexical and phonological features that correspond to regional areas. Thus they usually deal not only with populations that have lived in certain areas for generations, but also with migrant groups that bring their languages to new areas.
Commonly studied concepts in dialectology include the problem of mutual intelligibility in defining languages and dialects; situations of diglossia, where two dialects are used for different functions; dialect continua including a number of partially mutually intelligible dialects; and pluricentrism, where what is essentially a single genetic language exists as two or more standard varieties.

Fundamental concepts in sociolinguistics

Speech community

Speech community is a concept in sociolinguistics that describes a distinct group of people who use language in a unique and mutually accepted way among themselves.
To be considered part of a speech community, one must have a communicative competence. That is, the speaker has the ability to use language in a way that is appropriate in the given situation. It is possible for a speaker to be communicatively competent in more than one language.
Speech communities can be members of a profession with a specialized jargon, distinct social groups like high school students or hip hop fans, or even tight-knit groups like families and friends. Members of speech communities will often develop slang or jargon to serve the group's special purposes and priorities.
Community of Practice allows for sociolinguistics to examine the relationship between socialization, competence, and identity. Since identity is a very complex structure, studying language socialization is a means to examine the micro interactional level of practical activity (everyday activities). The learning of a language is greatly influenced by family but it is supported by the larger local surroundings, such as school, sports teams, or religion. Speech communities may exist within a larger community of practice.

The concept of  prestige

Crucial to sociolinguistic analysis is the concept of prestige; certain speech habits are assigned a positive or a negative value, which is then applied to the speaker. This can operate on many levels. It can be realised on the level of the individual sound/phoneme, as Labov discovered in investigating pronunciation of the post-vocalic /r/ in the North-Eastern USA, or on the macro scale of language choice, as realised in the various diglossias that exist throughout the world, where Swiss-German/High German is perhaps most well known. An important implication of sociolinguistic theory is that speakers 'choose' a variety when making a speech act, whether consciously or subconsciously.
The terms acrolectal (high) and basilectal (low) are also used to distinguish between a more standard dialect and a dialect of less prestige.

Social network

Understanding language in society means that one also has to understand the social networks in which language is embedded. A social network is another way of describing a particular speech community in terms of relations between individual members in a community. A network could be loose or tight depending on how members interact with each other.
 For instance, an office or factory may be considered a tight community because all members interact with each other. A large course with 100+ students would be a looser community because students may only interact with the instructor and maybe 1–2 other students. A multiplex community is one in which members have multiple relationships with each other.
A social network may apply to the macro level of a country or a city, but also to the inter-personal level of neighborhoods or a single family. Recently, social networks have been formed by the Internet, through chat rooms, MySpace groups, organizations.

                 Language  is  an  essential  and  significant  part  of  concept  of  culture. Socio linguistics  includes  all  aspects  of  the  linguistics  between  language  on  the  one  hand  and  society  culture  on  the  other .  A  study  of  the  relationship  of  language  to  culture  and society  demands  an  understanding  of  the  fundamental  concepts  of  culture  ,  meaning  and   context .  Recent  studies  in  the  field  of  sociolinguistics  lay emphasis  on  these  concepts.

1)      CULTURE :-  culture  is   viewed  as  a  system  having  a  separate  and  independent  existence  from  that  of  the  in  individuals  who  manifest  culture  in  their  behavior .  This is in part with assures concepts of language / speech.  Who stated  that  lang (langue) was  a social  institution  with  an  independent  existence  . over  and  above  its  acquisition   by  individuals  who  manifested  if  in  their  speech  (parole) . in linguistics   , culture  is  viewed  as  a  symbolic  and  meaningful  system .  

2)      MEANING :- Traditionally  , meaning  was  considered  to  be  the  domain  of  semantics  . more  recently  meaning  has  been  the  object  of  multidisciplinary  and  interdisciplinary  research . Meaning is itself a multifaceted and multipurpose concept. For  an  average  speakers  of   a language ,  the  most  relevant  meaning  is  the  referential  one  whereby  he or she  grasps  the  connection  between  sounds  sequence  uttered  and  human  and  non-human  entities . Meaning is presented in terms of  

A) Oppositional pairs language.  e.g. – synonymy and homonymy
b) Prepositions underlying any conversational interaction.

3)        CONTEXT :- in  a sociolinguistics  studies  context  is  key  concept  for  understanding  the  nature  of  communication  . while  several  levels  of  context  are  recognized  , the primary  distinction  appears  to  be  between  linguistic  versus  socio cultural  context  .  concerning  the  linguistic  context  , the  focus  of  analysis  have  expanded  from  the  unite  of  sentences  to  linguistics  text  including  naturally  occurring  dialogues  in  every  day  social  interaction  .  linguistic  context  also  includes  the  phonological  and  grammatical  futures . The  socio culture  context  can be  as  broad  as  a  speech  community  as well as  narrow  as  interpersonal  interaction .
       Sociolinguist have  traced  a  possible  relationships  between  language  and  society  some  of  them  are  ;
1)      The social  structure  may  either  influence  or  determined  linguistic  structure  and  behavior .
2)      The  linguistics  structure  and  behavior  may  either  influenced  or  determine  social  structure .
3)      The  influence  is  bi-directional ; language  and  society  may  influenced  each  other .
4)      To  assumed  that  there  is  no  relationship  at  all  between  linguistic  structure  and  social  structure  and  that  each  is  independent  of  the  other.      

Reading would not exist without the human capacity for language. Because the components of language and their associated terminology align with our demarcations for many of the elements of reading, they are described briefly in this section. Linguists have identified five basic components (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics) found across languages. Language acquisition progresses across these components with increasing quantity (e.g., sounds, words, and sentence length) and gradual refinement, and understanding of the subtler and more complex points of usage (e.g., using “taught” rather than “teached”).
Readers are encouraged to explore the literature in the field of language development to better understand and appreciate the oral language skills students may bring to the reading process. Speech and language pathologists are a great resource for identifying resources in this area and assisting in determining whether a child’s language skills are developing normally and providing support when assessment and intervention may be required.


 The study of speech structure within a language, including both the patterns of basic speech units and the accepted rules of pronunciation, is known as phonology. The smallest units of sound that make up a language are called phonemes. For example, the word “that” contains three phonemes the “th” represents one phoneme /th/, the “a” maps to the short a sound /ă/, and the “t” to its basic sound /t/.


Moving to the next level of language, we find the study of the smallest units of meaning, morphemes. Morphemes include base words, such as “hat,” “dog,” or “love,” as well as affixes, such as “un-,” “re-,” the plural “s” or “es,” and the past tense “ed.” Knowledge of the morphology of our language is critical to vocabulary development and reflects the smallest building blocks for comprehension.

The study of how individual words and their most basic meaningful units are combined to create sentences is known as syntax. As words are grouped together when we communicate, we must follow the rules of grammar for our language, in other words, its syntax. It is the knowledge of syntax that allows us to recognize that the following two sentences, while containing different word order and levels of complexity, have the same meaning.

·         The boy hit the ball.
·         The ball was hit by the boy.

Syntax also allows us to accept “I went to the store” as a meaningful (grammatical) sentence while “To store went I” would not be acceptable English.


Not only does the grammatical structure of our language provide the needed clues for understanding, we also have a wealth of figurative language and rich description that adds color and nuance to our communication. Semantics refers to the ways in which a language conveys meaning. It is our understanding of semantics that allows us to recognize that someone who is “green with envy” has not changed hue, or that “having cold feet” has less to do with the appendage at the end of our legs and more to do with our anxiety about a new experience. Because semantics moves beyond the literal meaning of words and is culture-dependent, this is among the most difficult aspects of language for individuals who are not native speakers and even those who speak the same language but come from different cultures and convey meaning using words in unique ways. Anyone who has attempted to converse with a teenager in his own vernacular can appreciate the importance of sharing a semantic base for communicating clearly.


“‘Pragmatics’ refers to the ways the members of the speech community achieve their goals using language.” The way we speak to our parents is not the same as the way we interact with a sibling, for example. The language used in a formal speech may bear little resemblance to what we would hear at a lunch with five friends. The conversational style of day-to-day interactions is quite different from the language used even when reading a storybook to a toddler. Knowing the difference and when to use which style is the essence of pragmatics.

Facility with language is critical to social interactions. Our ability to effectively communicate with others through spoken and written language is considered one of the ultimate goals of our educational system, with reading receiving much-needed emphasis. “Reading is essential to success in our society. The ability to read is highly valued and important for social and economic advancement.” In the following section the components identified by experts as critical to developing reading skills are reviewed.


One of the most important concepts proposed by Chomsky is the concept of surface anddeep structure. The Generativism paradigm claims that the concept of structural analysis proposed by Structuralism paradigm is too swallow, it only reaches the level of surface structure. Surface structure can be defined as the syntactic form they take as actual sentences. In the other words, it is forms of sentences resulted from  modification/ transformation. Consider these sentences:

(1)   You close the door. (Active Voice)
(2)   The door is closed by you. ( Passive Voice)
(3)   Close the door! (Imperative Sentence)

The first sentence is active, second is passive, and the last is imparative. However, if you take a look those closely, you will find that those three are very closely related, even identical.  They seem to be identical, since they have the same undelying abstract representation that is called deep structure. It is defined as an abstract level of structural organization in which all the elements determining structural interpretation are represented. If you want to analyze the relation of those three sentences, the first you have to know about the deep structure of them, since deep structure is the input of transformation rules. We cannot apply transformation rules if you don’t  have deep structure. transformation rules are sets of rules which will change or move constitiuents in the structures derive from the phrase structure rules.

The DS (deep structure)

SD (structure describtion)  : 
SC (Structural change)        :
SS (Surface structure)         :

1 2 3 4
3 4 + be 2+en 1
The door is closed by you  
Note: the SC is passive transformation rules

1 2 3 4
0 2 3 4
Close the door!
Note: 0 is deletion

From the above example, it can be concluded that deep structure then is a purerepresentation of thematic relations. Anything which is interpreted as the subject or object of a given predicate will be in the subject or object position of that predicate at Deep structure no matter where it is found at Surface structure.

Processes of Standardisation

Standardisation is generally thought of as a process that involves four stages. We need not think of them as being chronological. Indeed, the process of standardisation is an on-going one, and a whole range of forces are at work.

Variability is a fact of life for almost all languages. There are different regional dialects, class dialects, situational varieties. Standardisation represents an attempt to curtail, minimise if not eliminate this high degree of variability. The easiest solution seems to be to pick (although not arbitrarily) one of these varieties to be elevated to the status of the standard.

The ‘acceptance’ by the community of the norms of the variety selected over those of rival varieties, through the promotion, spread, establishment and enforcement of the norms. This is done through institutions, agencies, authorities such as schools, ministries, the media, cultural establishments, etc. In fact, the standard language comes to be regarded not just as the best form of the language, but as the language itself (eg consider the claim that Mandarin is Chinese in Singapore). The other varieties are then dialects, which tend implicitly to get stigmatised as lesser forms, associated with the not too highly regarded people, who are seen as less educated, slovenly, uncouth, etc.

For the variety selected to represent the desired norms, it must be able to discharge a whole range of functions that it may be called upon to discharge, including abstract, intellectual functions. Where it lacks resources to do so, these are developed. Thus a standard language is often characterised as possessing ‘maximal variation in function, minimal variation in form’.

The norms and rules of grammar, use, etc. Which govern the variety selected have to be formulated, and set down definitively in grammars, dictionaries, spellers, manuals of style, texts, etc.

Haugen (1972) summarised this in the form of a table.

Table 1 (from Haugen 1972: 110)

It is the varying use of actions, dialects and features. This includes and makes up the study of varieties of English. In Sociolinguistics, variety is also referred to as a lect that avoids the problem in ambiguous cases of deciding whether or not varieties are dialect of a single language. A lect may include language, dialects, style as well as the standard variety itself.
Regional or social varieties of a language are characterised by its own phonological, syntactic and lexical properties. The study of dialect is called dialectology. The term dialect is mostly used to refer regional speech pattern. However a dialect may also be defined based on other factors such as social class, ethnic group and so on. A dialect that is associated with the particular social class can be termed as socio level.
                Ethnolect is the dialogue associated with a particular ethnic group. Regiolect or topolect refers to a distinct regional dialect. In a broader sense dialects can be classified as standard dialects and non standard dialects.
               Standard dialect or standardised dialect is a dialect supported by institutions like government, educational institutions, etc. There may be multiple standard dialects associated with a single language. For example, standard Indian English and South Asian English are standard dialects of English.
      Non standard dialects are similar to standard dialects except for the fact that it does not get the benefit of institutional support. Eg. South Asian English.
Most languages have standard varieties which are considered to be the appropriate form of language by the concerned language speakers. However, this selection is applicable to any standard as it is based on social expectation which change with time.
A register is a variety of language used for a particular social setting. The term was coined by Thomas Bertram Reid.
Styles of speech are included in a linguistic repertoire of an individual speaker. Registers and styles are used interchangeably. The various connotations of styles are the subjects of study stylistics.
     Most speakers command a range of registers which they use in different situations. The choice of a register is affected by the setting, topic of speech and relationship that exists between speakers. The appropriate form of language may also change during the course of a communication as a relationship between speakers change or different social facts become relevant. Speakers may share styles as a perception of an event in progress changes. This shift of styles and registers is called style shift.
Language used is typical of a person. An individual idiolect may be influenced by contact with various regional or social dialects, registers, language.

Isogloss :
An isogloss—also called a heterogloss —is the geographic boundary of a certain linguistic feature, such as the pronunciation of a vowel, the meaning of a word, or use of some syntactic feature. The term isogloss (Ancient Greek  ísos "equal, similar" and  glōssa "tongue, dialect, language") is inspired by contour lines or isopleths such as isobar. However, the isogloss separates rather than connects points of equal language. Consequently, it has been proposed that the term heterogloss ("other") be used instead.
One of the most well-known isoglosses is the centum-satem isogloss.
Similar to an isogloss, an isograph is a distinguishing feature of a writing system. Both concepts are also used in historical linguistics.
Eg. "Speakers in southern Pennsylvania say bucket, and those in the north part of the state say pail. [The line of demarcation between the two] is called an isogloss. Dialect areas are determined by large 'bundles' of such isoglosses.

Pidgin :
A pidgin  or pidgin language, is a simplified version of a language that develops as a means of communication between two or more groups that do not have a language in common. It is most commonly employed in situations such as trade, or where both groups speak languages different from the language of the country in which the   y reside (but where there is no common language between the groups). The origin of the word is uncertain. Pidgin first appeared in print in 1850. The most widely accepted etymology is from the Chinese pronunciation of the English word business.[5]
Another etymology that has been proposed is English pigeon, a bird sometimes used for carrying brief written messages, especially in times prior to modern telecommunications

 Fundamentally, a pidgin is a simplified means of linguistic communication, as it is constructed impromptu, or by convention, between individuals or groups of people. A pidgin is not the native language of any speech community, but is instead learned as a second language. A pidgin may be built from words, sounds, or body language from multiple other languages and cultures. They allow people who have no common language to communicate with each other. Pidgins usually have low prestige with respect to other languages

Key features of pidgin :
1.    The pidgin has no native speakers. But ir is used as a medioum of communication between people who are native speakers of other language.
2.    The pidgin is based on the linguistic features of one or more language and as a simplified language with reduced vocabulary and grammatical structure.
3.    Inflectional suffixes such as –‘s’ ( plural)  and ‘-s’ ( possessive) , ‘-s’ nouns and standard English are rare in pidgin English.

A creole language, or simply a creole, is a stable natural language that has developed from a pidgin, i.e. a simplified version of a language. Creoles differ from pidgins because creoles have been nativized by children as their primary language, with the result that they have features of natural languages that are normally missing from pidgins, which are not anyone's first language. Creole languages most often emerged in colonies located near the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean or the Indian Ocean. Exceptions include Brazil, where no creole emerged, and Cape Verde and theLesser Antilles, where creoles developed in slave depots rather than on plantations.
Most commonly, creoles have resulted from the interactions between speakers of nonstandard varieties of European languages and speakers of non-European languages. Creole languages include varieties that are based on French, such asHaitian Creole, Louisiana Creole, and Mauritian Creole; English, such as Gullah (on the Sea Islands of the southeastern United States), Jamaican Creole, Guyanese Creole, and Hawaiian Creole; and Portuguese, such as Papiamentu (in Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao) and Cape Verdean; and some have bases in multiple European languages, such as two creoles found in Suriname, Saramacca (based on English and heavily influenced by Portuguese) and Sranan (based on English and heavily influenced by Dutch). Papiamentu is thought to have also been heavily influenced by Spanish.
Some linguists extend the term creole to varieties that emerged from contacts between primarily non-European languages. Examples from Africa include Sango, a creole based on the Ngbandi language and spoken in the Central African Republic;Kinubi, based on the Arabic language and spoken in Uganda; and Kikongo-Kituba andLingala, which are based on Kikongo-Kimanyanga and Bobangi, respectively, and are spoken in both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo

Eg. Creoles of Mauritius.

Diglossia :

Diglossia, the coexistence of two varieties of the same language throughout a speech community. Often, one form is the literary or prestige dialect, and the other is a common dialect spoken by most of the population.  The Greek word  (diglōssia) normally refers to bilingualism in general, but was first used in the specialized meaning explained by Emmanuel Rhoides in the prologue of his Parerga in 1885. The term was immediately adapted into French as diglossie by the Greek linguist and demoticist Ioannis Psycharis, with credit to Rhoides. The Arabist William Marçais used the term in 1930 to describe the linguistic situation in Arabic-speaking countries. The sociolinguist Charles A. Ferguson introduced the English equivalent diglossia in 1959.

Such a situation exists in many speech communities throughout the world—e.g., in Greece, where Katharevusa, heavily influenced by Classical Greek, is the prestige dialect and Demotic is the popular spoken language, and in the Arab world, where classical Arabic (as used in the Qurʾān) exists alongside the colloquial Arabic of Egypt, Morocco, and other countries. Sociolinguists may also use the term diglossia to denote bilingualism, the speaking of two or more languages by the members of the same community, as, for example, in New York City, where many members of the Hispanic community speak both Spanish and English, switching from one to the other according to the social situation or the needs of the moment.

Lingua Franca :

A lingua franca  (plural lingue franche or lingua francas), also known as a bridge language, trade language or vehicular language, is a language systematically (as opposed to occasionally, or casually) used to make communication possible between persons not sharing a native language, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both native languages.
Lingua francas have developed around the world throughout human history, sometimes for commercial reasons (so-called "trade languages") but also for diplomatic and administrative convenience, and as a means of exchanging information between scientists and other scholars of different nationalities. The term originates with one such language, Mediterranean Lingua Franca.
Lingua franca is a term defined functionally, independent of the linguistic history or structure of the language:[3] though pidgins and creoles often function as lingua francas, many such languages are neither pidgins nor creoles.
Whereas a vernacular language is used as a native language in a community, a lingua franca is used beyond the boundaries of its original community, and is used as a second language for communication between groups. For example, English is a vernacular in the United Kingdom, but is used as a vehicular language (i.e., a lingua franca) in thePhilippine Islands and India.
International auxiliary languages such as Esperanto have not had a great degree of adoption globally, so they cannot be described as global lingua francas.

Jargon and Slang :

Jargon, in colonial history, an unstable rudimentary hybrid language used as a means ofcommunication between persons having no other language in common. Although the term was long synonymous with pidgin—as can be seen by the use of jargon in the names of such pidgins as Chinook Jargon and Mobilian Jargon—in the 1980s some linguists began restricting its use to denote pre-pidgins, or early developmental forms of pidgins.
Nonlinguists more commonly define jargon as the technical or specialized parlance of a specific social or occupational group such as physicians or lawyers. Jargon has also historically been defined as gibberish or as an outlandish, unintelligible, barbarous, debased language; in this meaning it is similar to patois and carries negative connotations. When the term jargon was originally applied to pidgins, it no doubt reflected the negative attitudes toward pidgins held by fluent speakers of the languages from which the pidgins derived most of their vocabularies. Indeed, jargons and pidgins were often characterized as “broken” languages, suggesting that they lack grammar, in contrast to full-fledged languages that function as the vernaculars of particular communities. Technically, jargons and pidgins have no native speakers and are used only as lingua francas, although expanded pidgins may be used as vernaculars.

Slang, unconventional words or phrases that express either something new or something old in a new way. It is flippant, irreverent, indecorous; it may be indecent or obscene. Its colourful metaphors are generally directed at respectability, and it is this succinct, sometimes witty, frequently impertinent social criticism that gives slang its characteristic flavour. Slang, then, includes not just words but words used in a special way in a certain social context. The origin of the word slang itself is obscure; it first appeared in print around 1800, applied to the speech of disreputable and criminal classes in London. The term, however, was probably used much earlier.

Slang emanates from conflicts in values, sometimes superficial, often fundamental. When an individual applies language in a new way to express hostility, ridicule, or contempt, often with sharp wit, he may be creating slang, but the new expression will perish unless it is picked up by others. If the speaker is a member of a group that finds that his creation projects the emotional reaction of its members toward an idea, person, or social institution, the expression will gain currency according to the unanimity of attitude within the group.