Slang is the non-standard use of words in a language and sometimes creation of new words or importation of words from another language. Slang terms are often particular to a certain subculture, such as drug users, skaters, or musicians. Sometimes confused with jargon, the collection of vocabulary specific to a certain profession.
Slang is often used to discuss semi-taboo subjects, such as
- Sexual organs and activities (Human sexuality)
- Recreational drugs
- Elimination and bodily wastes
Historical examples of slang are the "thieves' cant" used by beggars and the underworld generally in previous centuries: a number of "canting" dictionaries were published.
A famous example is Cockney rhyming slang in which, in the simplest case, word and phrases are replaced by a word or phrase that rhymes with it. Often the rhyming replacement is abbreviated further, making the expressions even more obscure.
Polari was an interesting mixture of Italian and Cockney back slang (i.e. common words pronounced as if spelled backwards e.g. 'ecaf' for face, which became 'eek' in Polari) . Polari was used in London fish markets and the gay subculture in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s, becoming more widely known from its use by two camp characters, Jules and Sandy, in Round the Horne, a popular radio show.
Examples of slang: (Note: this is not intended to be a comprehensive list, nor as an encouragement to turn Wikipedia into a slang dictionary.)
See also: Wikipedia policy/Foul Language,
- For British slang, see http://www.peevish.co.uk/slang/
- For Australian slang, see http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Plains/9740/slang.html
- For some Cockney rhyming slang, see http://www.bio.nrc.ca/cockney/process.html
- For an example of a canting dictionary, which incidentally illustrates the tendency for English to adopt and make respectable words that were originally coined by the criminal classes http://www.holoweb.net/~liam/dict/ .
- For more about Polari, see this page: http://members.aol.com/frij/