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Slang: The People's Poetry Hardcover – April 1, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0195314632 ISBN-10: 0195314638 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195314638
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195314632
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 1.1 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,156,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Adams' theories are brilliant, and he draws on a startlingly diverse universe to illustrate his points, leaping without apparent effort from Chaucer to stamp collectors; from snowboarders to UPS drivers; from T.S. Eliot to Charles Dickens; from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Simpsons. With a love of the subject matter and a glorious grasp of the language, he carries you effortlessly from one big idea to another. What a book!"
--Tom Dalzell, editor of The Routledge Dictionary of Modern American Slang and Unconventional English


"A lively and engaging look at English slang and its multitudinous forms."
--Ben Zimmer, The Visual Thesaurus


"The depth of the argumentation and the richness of the writing and the archive make Slang a text that is at once highly readable and theoretically productive."
--Phillip M. Carter, Language in Society


"Michael Adams's Slang is not a collection of words but an examination of the scope and function of slang in our language and our lives. It's scholarly yet highly readable--just as you would expect from the author of Slayer Slang."
--Jan Freeman, Boston Globe


"Brilliant.... Adams' theory of slang as a poetic device is truly insightful."--Semiotica


"This is an intelligent book, executed with passion. Slang offers important comment and documentation on an aspect of our culture that is very often overlooked."--January Magazine


"Book length studies (as opposed to dictionaries) of slang are few and far between, so with this volume Adams has done scholars, students, and aficionados of slang a great service. Adams has a knack for illuminating both linguistic ephemera and its underlying principles. Speaking to the general reader, the author uses linguistic jargon sparingly, puts scholarly observations in everyday terms, and illustrates key ideas with in-depth examples rather than drive-by word citations. This book is a must for libraries and lovers of language. Essential." --CHOICE


"[A] lively and informative book."--Library Journal


"Slang is the wink-wink, nudge-nudge of language. It gives the illusion (and creates the impression) that it is all, like, edgy and cazh, but Michael Adams shows it is much more than just flash and trash. This book puts slang near the center of human language, and our journey to it is, as Jo said in Little Women (1868) 'fun, and no grubbage.'"--Richard W. Bailey, Professor of English Language and Literature, University of Michigan


"Slang: The People's Poetry takes the study of slang well beyond words and phrases and into the discursive functions as well as the cognitive underpinnings of slang. Adams' knowledge of high culture and low culture as well as his careful observation of contemporary language use make his analysis of slang fresh and appealing to twenty-first century readers."--Connie Eble, Professor of English, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


About the Author


Michael Adams teaches English language and literature at Indiana University. He is the author of Slayer Slang: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Lexicon and editor of From Elvish to Klingon. For several years, he was editor of Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America. He is currently editor of the journal American Speech.

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Customer Reviews

I don't think I _will_ finish this book.
beckyjean
He also has an annoying habit of using obscure linguistic terms and not defining them until later in the book or, sometimes, not at all.
Aaron Silverman
Here are a few of the current slang terms listed in just one section of this book.
James R. Holland

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By NaughtiLiterati VINE VOICE on April 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Though this books is for linguists and scholars and written by one, it is also a comprehensive read for those lovers of language like myself who are always questioning the how and why of words. It will make you feel smarter and each section is very informative with tons of examples that will almost have you nodding your head in recognition and laughter; and amazement because of how well-put together the book overall is! If you're a hip word nerd or know one, this book is the perfect gift!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By P. Eisenman VINE VOICE on April 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
SLANG, THE PEOPLE'S POETRY is an interesting, though at times ponderous, look at slang and it's purpose. Author Michael Adams poses some interesting questions and makes plausable arguments to back up his answers. I don't agree with all of his conclusions, but he does make a case for his viewpoint.

Adams did convince me that African American Vernacular English IS a valid dialect of English. I'd never considered dialects being anything other than geographically related, but he proves (I believe) that dialects do exist among racial/ethnic groups that span across multiple geographic regions and that what may on the surface appear to be simply a great profusion of slang usage can actually be a dialect with its own grammatical structures, vocabulary and form.

Adams also proves convincingly that slang is a form of indirection and obfuscation. He shows it to be a necessary component of language, but it's still open to debate whether indirection in language is a GOOD thing.

However, Adam's case for slang being poetry and word play is less solid. The frequent examples cited from TV and movies may show that SCRIPTWRITERS are engaging in humorous word play and poetic slang, but I have my doubts that mobs of teens are consciously doing anything similar!

At times, the text becomes rather bogged down in the details and my interest waned, but in general the writing style tends more towards the casual. FAIR WARNING! IF VULGARITIES AND OBSCENITIES MAKE YOU UNCOMFORTABLE, YOU WILL NOT LIKE THIS BOOK! Slang terms of this variety are frankly and frequently discussed! So, take heed!

This is NOT light reading and if you're not interested in the how's and why's of language, you'll probably be bored to tears by this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Ben VINE VOICE on April 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If I had to teach an alien (or an android like Star Trek's Data) what slang is, I would give them this book. It is full of the "how and why" of slang, something most people grasp naturally. The issue then is presenting this information in an engaging way, and unfortunately it seems like Mr. Adams has spent too much time buried in literature and academia to really pull in the casual/average reader.
I studied linguistics (electives, did not major in it) in college and this book would feel at home on a professor's syllabus or stacked dauntingly in a college book store. But, despite the inviting title, I can't really see too many people wanting to sit down with this academic drag. Its written in a way that is casual only to people who read academic journals and its not 'slangy' enough on its own. The writer sounds almost too nerdy about the subject to get me to come along for the ride here.

I love geeking out on things, but for a casual read this was too dry.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stephen M. Charme HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was an English major in college and enjoy reading books about language and writing, especially since I am in a profession that requires me to write clearly and persuasively. I was looking forward to reading a book whose title held the promise of exploring in a clever way a colorful use of the English language. Instead I found a tedious textbook filled with jargon, and written in a manner that I think even academics would find boring.

To be sure, this book contains a wealth of information, and the list of slang terms in the index is a fun way to look up terms that you are familiar with as well as learn about many new slang terms. But the discussion in this book about these terms is not of interest to a general reader. For example, here is what the author has to say (at p. 134) about the term "f**king -A": "According to McMillan's Rule, infixed and interposed inserts aren't supposed to carry lexical meaning, but f**king-A, a form of both expletive and meaningful has it both ways." He then "explains" this by saying that the examples he has cited "suggest that McMillan's Rule extends not only to infixing, but also to syntactic interposing,'the insertion of emotive intensifiers into collocations that are normally not interruptible or are interruptible under restrictions that exclude intensifiers.'" Not to be disrespectful, but that kind of jargon is meaningless to a reader who does not have expertise in the author's field.

In the preface the author states that he has written the book not just for "Lexicographers, language historians, linguists of various stripes, and cultural critics," but also "for 'everyone', by which I mean university-educated or other really smart people interested in slang and contemporary American culture.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jean E. Pouliot on April 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Michael Adams's book on slang gets dull fast. I hardly made it out of the preface before I felt myself bogged down in the petty arguments Adams holds with his antagonists in the world of words. Sure, it's fun to argue about whether a word is argot (specialized language used by criminals), jargon (specialized language used within a profession or group) and slang (specialized language used by a group). But Adams can't seem to let go of the argument. By page 30, I was already skipping paragraphs, hoping for the author to get to the point or provide some entertaining and educational material. The book deserves 3 stars because it does deliver once in a while. The overlapping definitions of argot, jargon and slang make it hard to definitively determine which applies to a particular word. When criminal argot is picked up by the mainstream, or when ghetto slang are picked up by lily white middle schoolers, it loses its ability to shock, define and conceal its purpose. Adams's treatment of African American slang and idiom is respectful and enlightening. And he does have the ability to untangle the multitude of motives, ironies and sly intents of words. His examples come from recent entertainment like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Scrubs," giving them the potential to be accessible to lay audiences.

Ultimately, this book, a mutant hybrid of a popular book on slang and an academic treatise, is far less satisfying than it could have been. A worthwhile read for the lexical enthusiast, it is nonetheless daunting and dull for anyone not committed to learning about language.
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