We've been talking to University of Indiana professor Michael Adams about his new book, Slang: The People's Poetry
. Last week, in part one
of our interview, he explained how slang balances the social ("fitting in") with the aesthetic ("standing out"). Now in part two, Adams considers what happens when slang gets enshrined in dictionaries, and how we're only now appreciating the endless variety of slang forms.
Visual Thesaurus contributor Mark Peters
writes: "After years of weird-word collecting, I'm pretty unfazed by words with multiple, redundant, exuberant suffixes... However, even I was gobsmacked out of my chair when I spotted mystery-y-ish-y
." Read all about the suffix-y pileups Mark has found on OUPblog.
In the dictionary game, when you've found a historical example of word that is earlier than anything previously found, it's called an "antedating." Looking for antedatings in American English has been utterly transformed by the advent of digitized newspaper databases. Now, hot on the heels of my antedating of jazz in New Orleans
, I have another early 20th-century discovery to report: from 1901, the first known proposal for using the title Ms.
to refer to a woman regardless of her marital status.
In his new book, Slang: The People's Poetry
, Indiana University English professor Michael Adams tackles the tough question: what is the nature of slang? Adams, also the author of Slayer Slang: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Lexicon
, looks beyond dictionary definitions of slang to examine the fascinating interplay of social and aesthetic qualities in "the poetry of everyday speech." In this first of a two-part interview, Adams explains how the linguistic practice of slang balances the social and the aesthetic, and considers what directions slang might take in the future.
After half a century of research, the monumental Dictionary of American Regional English
is nearing completion. DARE
chief editor Joan H. Hall recently talked to National Public Radio
about the long, arduous journey of the dictionary, which will see its fifth and final volume published next year. As a "rantum scoot" into peculiar American speech, here are some sample regionalisms culled from DARE