Linguistic significance of current British slang
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This thesis comprises four chapters dealing with aspects of current British Slang. In Chapter 1 a questionnaire dealing largely with Slang terms for women is described, and the results obtained are analysed for socio-linguistic information. This analysis indicates that differences of Slang usage correlate with the informants' age, sex and social class. A new taxonomy of English Register is suggested. Chapter 2 deals with a test designed to gather data about the acceptability of items in the questionnaire. It investigates the effects on acceptability of: an item's context; the informants' age, sex and social class; and the rating of pairs of items used in similar contexts. In Chapter 3 the problems of carrying out semantic analyses of such material are discussed. A partitioning cluster analysis procedure is employed to group the data objectively. A single-context synonymity test is also applied to the data. Stable clusters which are consistent with the results of the single-context synonymity test and with linguistic intuitions are generated using cluster analysis. Cluster analysis procedures are assessed for applicability in linguistic research and their possible future uses in semantic analysis are discussed. Chapter 4 reviews some alternative proposals for semantic analysis as well as previous suggestions regarding the position of Slang in the English Language. The data collected illustrate semantic parallels between Slang and Standard English. An attempt at componential analysis of the data illustrates problems inherent in this procedure. The difficulties are seen in terms of the dilemma: the need to generalise to keep the system a manageable size; and the unavoidable loss of vital information through generalization. Some modifications of the normal techniques are suggested, especially the introduction of the notion 'fuzzy component', to deal with the irreducible vagueness of meaning in some items of Standard English and of Slang.