Slang Origins By Woody Allen: Poem Analysis

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We use slang in English to communicate effectively in an informal manner, and with some degree of humor. In Slang Origins by Woody Allen, the author explains how a variety of phrases became known as slang. Allen included stories of slang derived from marital customs and how the woman accepted or rejected the proposal, misunderstandings because of not being able to hear what someone else said properly, and ones that started because of something a single person did that was amusing. These origins stories sound foolish but I believe that the humor is what caused them to be passed down generations and remain prevalent in society today. Some of the origins of slang come from marital customs such as “got into a beef” or “to look down one’s nose”. …show more content…
In both of these slang term origin stories, a misunderstanding caused a phrase to be funny. Those who heard the story proceeded to use it in their everyday, informal conversations and sharing the story with others. Woody Allen also describes slang origin stories where the slang could be started by a single person. First, “to look spiffy” was started by a man named Sir Oswald Spiffy in Victorian England. Spiffy spent the majority of his money on clothing, having an excessive wardrobe. He had a unique and innovative style and always had the best possible. Because of his lavish wardrobe, “to look spiffy” became known as “to look good” or to be dressed in a way that expressed a lavish lifestyle. Another origin story started by a single person is the story of “fiddlesticks”. This originated in Austria by a man named Leo Rothschild. It was a custom for men in the banking industry to receive bellows and waxed fruit from their friends when he announced his engagement. However, when Leo Rothschild receives his gift it was cello bows instead of the traditional gift. Upset and finding the gift foolish he exclaimed “fiddlesticks!”. This new slang quickly spread by people who did not like Rothschild and was meant to mock him. Now, it is used to describe anything

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