Slang And Dialect Research Paper
Both the Cambridge Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster dictionary define slang as language which is “informal” and that belongs “to a particular group”. These dictionary definitions do not encompass exactly what slang is or how it is used, nor do they offer information that can be used to draw a clear distinction between slang and dialect. Walt Wolfram, a linguist at North Carolina State University, espouses a more complete explanation of slang, saying that “Slang refers to a specialized lexicon of words that exclusive, that replace other words in function and that tend to have a short life cycle. ‘Groovy’ is slang, but ‘he done gone’ is not” (qtd. in Gibbs 2). In this illustration that Wolfram gives, he is giving an example of slang and then an example of dialect so that the difference can be seen. Especially seen in his example is the idea that a slang word is often more acceptable than a dialectic phrase: most would consider ‘groovy’ an extinction of personality, while ‘he done gone’ may be seen as grammatically incorrect. In fact “slang…often becomes a reputable part of the lexicon, if only because people [have] come to appreciate the slang idiom (Barker 1).
So what, then, is the difference between using slang in speech and speaking a dialect? The truth is that the two are intermingled. While slang is not subject to specific language systems and can not be used wholly as a means to communicate, dialects …show more content…
Dialects tend not to be as ephemeral as a particular slang word or phrase. Another word often associated with slang and dialect is “vernacular”. As Merriam-Webster defines vernacular, it is “of, relating to, or being the normal spoken form of a language or a nonstandard language or dialect of a place, region, or country”. Vernacular English is quite similar to a given dialect of English. The differences are that vernacular pertains mostly to vocal communication and is tied to a geographic location, while dialects can have those traits but are not limited to them.
To return to the student’s statement referred to previously, elements of slang, vernacular, and dialect can be found in the sentence. The word “ain’t” is an informal
Herman 32 word not used in Standard American English. Although it can be found within many other dialects of English, “ain’t” is actually a slang word that replaces either “aren’t” or “do not”. The word “ain’t” is widely used in the south, which would indicate that this is possibly a southern dialect being spoken. That geographical tie, along with the vocalization, constitutes the use of vernacular. What makes the overall phrase dialect is that it employs systematic sentence structure and can be understood by other speakers of that