I must fortuitously frequent a very select subset of all educated and intelligent people, then, because they all manage to do without slang.
Slang isn't important. People don't really write about it, and they rarely ask questions on it. The vast majority of the world's literature is not written in slang. Slang has an extremely ephemeral existence and mainly serves purposes of social discrimination among ceaselessly mutating microcosms of society, which I don't find to be a highly productive or laudable undertaking.
I've managed to survive and communicate effectively all my life without ever using any significant amount of slang, and without ever bothering to learn it. Anything important will be in standard English. Joining shifting cliques is not a useful or interesting activity to me, and learning and using slang serves little other purpose. By using only standard English, I ensure that I will be understood by every competent speaker of English on the planet. And I know that every competent speaker with something important to say will say it in standard English as well.
If you use slang, you become a part of 0.0000001% of humanity, and you alienate yourself from the other 99.9999999% that doesn't use whichever precise dialect of slang you've chosen to use. If you do not use slang, you join the mainstream and need never worry about to which group(s) you do or do not belong. Additionally, anything you write without slang will still be understandable a hundred years from now; anything you write in slang may not be understandable even twelve months from now, or for that matter anywhere outside its target group, even today. It boils down to deciding whether you want to be part of the big world, or the tiny village.
"I must fortuitously frequent a very select subset of all educated and intelligent people, then, because they all manage to do without slang."
Yes, I'd have to agree with this: "must" and a very small, isolated subset. Selective fortuity perhaps? One wonders if those one-of-a-kind intelligentsia happen to be humble, unpredictable and unfantastic as well.
Those curious comments enthral me because my experiences are infinitely more mixed and diverse, having travelled through a number of countries, particularly Europe, where slang (generic slang included) is alive and well in all its forms.
Cold, apathetic figures of 0.0000001% and 99.9999999% are quite impressive (dare I say arrogant) as a declaration for the whole of humanity. Common sense and broadmindedness are all that are necessary to understand that human nature isn't so clear-cut and soulless like an assembly line. However, the world will always make room for very narrow-minded and monocultural views. This is why, for example, PC (political correctness) could never extinguish slang.
Maybe I just hang around with the wrong people! LOL I reckon I'll just cut off all contact with my mates now because they don't always "speak proper".
I fully understand what Mxsmanic says, and I agree that when spoken clearly and correctly, English is very beautiful and a pleasure to listen to. I enjoy listening to discussions and news reports in the broadcasting media and I know full well that if slang terms and colloquialisms were used it would detract from this enjoyment, and would somehow lower the quality of the program.
However, I still maintain that if I conversed with my friends in the same way as I communicate (or attempt to communicate) in this forum they would definitely get suspicious about me in some way.
It's difficult to explain really. Maybe it's the time of day as I type this as I have not long been awake! What I really mean to say is that there is a time and place for different means of communication. A lot of it is down to the company you are with at any given time.
I have friends I have known since God knows when and we grew up together here in Edinburgh, so we still use local terms and colloquialisms in an informal way. That seems natural to us and it's just..well, normal! If one of us, say, had a friend from America, of the same age group, come to visit and who wished to join in our activities, he or she would experience dificulty much of the time understanding us as we speak in this relaxed, informal manner.
"What I really mean to say is that there is a time and place for different means of communication. A lot of it is down to the company you are with at any given time. "
Exactly, but even the brightest amongst us neglect or conveniently deny this simple fact. Why? For lack of a social life?
I know you brought this up before in another discussion but since we're on the subject of slang and considering it's plentiful where I live:
Corny. I know :P
Mxsmanic, you and your mates probably use a lot of slang in your daily lives without even knowing it! After all, I only discovered that the word "nutter" was slang about a year ago. Even people who speak posh use slang- posh slang, that is to say.
Flip open any English newspaper and there's bound to be some slang within.
By the way, Mxsmanic, where do you live?
Mi5 Mick, Australia's performance in the Olympic Games is phenomenal for a country with a population of only 19 million! The UK has thrice Australia's population but only half as many gold medals. And poor India...a sixth of the world's population and only a single medal (and a silver one at that)!
Pipped by Russia!
PS: 20 million ;)
Well, Russia is a much larger country.
Heh heh, my statistics sources are out of date. My dictionary states that the population of Australia was 18.3 million in 1996.
[enters forum with about 5% consciousness....sod it....(slang)...he has to go to work by 10am]
Hi guys.....you talking Olympics?....hey in Oz they take it all more
serious than in UK.... better weather in Oz to train and stuff....here in UK the weather this summer has been crap... what's new... looks like more (**** not slang..just obscene) rain...no idea how many golds the UK's got...who cares! LOL just joking.
Did I say "summer"? *********** :-( I guess a British summer is like a Californian winter? Am I right, you guys who know these things? Have a good one, peeps.
[yawns and wishes he could go back to bed....good night last night too!]
**** it.....I forgot to thank Mick for those Aussie slangspeak links.....thanks Mick.....good on ya, m8! Interesting stuff......see ya soon
Just what is considered slang? I think there is a continuous spectrum of usage where at one end there are terms and jargon that are understood by only a small group and at the other there are terms that are understood by 90% of the population. Mutual intelligibility isn't lost in the latter case.
I write very much as I speak. Do you see a lot of slang in my writing?
Mxsmanic> Do you see a lot of slang in my writing?
No, I don't see a lot of slang in your wrting, but a few posts earlier you did write "It boils down to deciding whether you want to be part of the big world, or the tiny village."
I don't know if Die SprachPolizei consider "boils down to" slang or just a colloquialism, but it's one phrase I really hate :-)
By the way, we seem to share a common interest: I will be filling my refrigerator with as much TP 120 as I can between now and December.
Aye, I know.......I'm a mass and flying high
A Northern Californian winter is loads better than a hot and humid Southern English summer. Winters in the San Francisco Bay Area aren't freezing but on some days, they can be almost as cold as winters in London. Two years ago, there was a rather exciting winter storm that lasted a week: all night long, I could the hear wind moaning as if I were living in the North York Moors; all day long, I could see torrential rain falling in ropes and gigantic redwood and pine trees swinging and swaying (in fact, a branch from my neighbour's tree fell into my back garden). During my first month in California, it snowed for two minutes in Cupertino, thirty miles south of San Francisco! Well, I must agree that a Northern Californian winter is similar to an English summer if you take precipitation and nothing else into consideration.
I've never experienced a Scottish summer before so I can't compare California and Scotland. As for Southern California, the word "hellhole" pretty much sums it up.