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April 4, 2011
In Sunday's New York Times Book Review, Visual Thesaurus editor Ben Zimmer has the back-page essay on the latest in slang dictionaries. You can read it online here
, and you can listen to Ben's discussion with Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus in the weekly podcast here
. Also check out Ben's Artsbeat blog post
on a 1699 slang dictionary.
Behind the Dictionary
February 6, 2008
For the past three decades Professor Connie Eble
has been pursuing a unique project: Tracking the slang of her students. The in-house linguist of the University of North Carolina's English Department, she polls her students every semester about their non-standard language. This long-term research has given Professor Eble a singular window into the function of language in society, which she discusses in her book Slang and Sociability
. Professor Eble recently gathered the latest crop of slang from her students, so we called her to find out what she found, and what it means.
Department of Word Lists
March 31, 2009
Academy Award-winning producer and director Tony Bill has spent years collecting Hollywood argot on the sets of his films. Now he reveals this secret cinematic language in his new book, Movie Speak: How to Talk Like You Belong on a Film Set
. Don't know the difference between a goofie
and a gaffer
? Read on!
Great Slang Dictionaries
June 18, 2009
When we interviewed Michael Adams about his new book, Slang: The People's Poetry
(part one here
), we asked him to recommend the best dictionaries of English slang available. If you're curious about the meanings and origins of slang terms, these are the go-to references.
Great Books on Slang
American Slang, by the Book
Slingin' Blue-Eyed American Slang
April 3, 2013
Over the past couple of years, I've done several columns on massive dictionaries that have been recently completed or published, like the Dictionary of American Regional English and Green's Dictionary of Slang. Unfortunately, not all lexicographical projects have such a happy ending.
Teachers at Work
Slang and the Achievement Gap
December 15, 2008
, Visual Thesaurus contributor and New York public school teacher Shannon Reed shared some experiences about the richness of student slang that she had encountered. Here is a counterpoint to Shannon's piece, from a new member of the VT sales staff, Elissa Seto. Before joining the VT team Elissa taught science at an urban middle school in the South Bronx. While a fan of slang, Elissa is also concerned about how student reliance on nonstandard speech may be symptomatic of what educators call the achievement gap.
Behind the Dictionary
The Infinite Productivity of Slang
June 25, 2009
We've been talking to University of Indiana professor Michael Adams about his new book, Slang: The People's Poetry
. Last week, in part one
of our interview, he explained how slang balances the social ("fitting in") with the aesthetic ("standing out"). Now in part two, Adams considers what happens when slang gets enshrined in dictionaries, and how we're only now appreciating the endless variety of slang forms.
Julie Coleman's Lively "The Life of Slang"
June 19, 2012
If you enjoyed Michael Adams' Slang: The People's Poetry, make some room on your shelf for another compelling look at slangology: The Life of Slang by Julie Coleman. Coleman's book is an enjoyable, thorough look at the purposes and particulars of slang that should be required reading, especially for newcomers to the topic. This is a textbook textbook on slang.