- 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: 32 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,828,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Slang: The People's Poetry 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
"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.
Top customer reviews
* inhabitants of the Buffieverse (Professor Adams is an acknowledged expert on Slayer slang)
* restaurant jargon
* soccer moms
* raver culture
* "hip" and "raunch" cultures
* different online social networks
are hugely entertaining and are by far the best part of this book.
For those who just get a kick out of language, but who have neither a background in linguistics nor any professional involvement, the main attraction of this book will probably lie in these concrete examples (and the author's obvious delight in presenting them). Professor Adams does have his academic career to consider, so the book also contains a certain amount of - how to put this delicately - less accessible prose (you know, the kind of headache-inducing bumf that members of the academy seem to feel obliged to cobble together to confuse/intimidate/bore their colleagues and rivals into submission). Since I am disposed to like Professor Adams, who establishes himself as a genial guide with a good sense of humor in the first two chapters, I will forgo the cheap shot of picking out a particularly bad sentence to mock as part of this review. Professor Adams has mercifully confined most of the worst academic jargon to the final chapter (roughly the last 40 pages out of 200), and for all I know, if you are steeped in Chomsky's linguistic theories and have a particular interest in cognitive linguistics, it might be smooth sailing for you. But it's a safe bet that most people will have tuned out well before they reach that final tormented (and more or less incomprehensible) "slang as linguistic spandrel" metaphor.
Other than the Chomsky-fest in the final chapter, the author's general remarks about slang (it represents a deliberate break with established conventions, often with the intent of defining a particular 'in'-group; commonly serves as a vehicle for people to show off their linguistic prowess/indulge their pleasure in language games) don't go beyond anything you hadn't already figured out for yourself.
There were two specific points where I just couldn't share the author's enthusiasm (which just seemed endearingly goofy, but weird).
Homeric infixing (the reference is to the Simpsons, not the Odyssey), exemplified by "edumacation", "saxamaphone", or the hideous Flanders variation where the infix is 'diddly', is neither as clever nor as fascinating as Professor Adams appears to think. The amount of space devoted to this single linguistic tic was vast, baffling, and lethally boring.
The phrase "how's it going, protozoan?" might have seemed clever, once, when some member of the author's family coined it at the breakfast table. It is not a phrase that deserves to appear in print more than once. That it appears repeatedly throughout the book, often in conjunction with even more regrettable phrases, such as "Please don't pout, my sauerkraut" and "Don't rock the boat, you billy goat!" is unfortunate, to say the least. It was as if Teddy Ruxpin had suddenly joined the debate.
I was perfectly happy to excuse these lapses, given that the author provided several more entries to add to my list of euphemisms for the act of manustupration. Other pleasures included the hundred or more slang terms for ecstasy included in the first chapter, the primer on dating and sex terms used by young soccer moms ('perma-laid', 'flirt buddies', 'coin-slot shot', 'spliff'), slayer slang, and snowboarding jargon. Not to mention learning such necessary urban survival terms as 'bagpiping', 'maple bar', 'lobbin' and 'cherryoke'. That last one is what you lose at your first karaoke performance - the others you'll have to research for yourself.
Read this book for the fun examples and Michael Adams's infectious enthusiasm for language. The final 40 pages should be attempted only if you are feeling particularly masochistic.
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.
Which brings me to my second point: I am still not sure how to classify this volume. It's certainly "up there" due to being published by Oxford UP, and admittedly much of the book would be lost to those who aren't familiar with linguistics. On the other hand, there's also something very cavalier about the writing style, as noted above, which wants to mix the ultra-scholar in with the subject at hand. This mixture resulted in my feeling that there is something not quite right about the book.
Perhaps the most important point to make, though, is the take-home "lessons" one can learn from reading it. Certainly things like knowing that ALL of us speak slang, that slang is a way to both fit in and stand out (depending on the social group, dramatic situation, context, etc.) can, I think, be said easily enough. I learned this myself when studying things like the "Northern Cities Vowel Shift" years ago in a college sociology course. But I'm wondering what sort of person this book would help: certainly not a linguist, who I am sure already knows such things. And probably not the general public, either, who might not be interested in getting through page after page of terms like "infixing" and "interposing."