Slang & Jargon in English 1


Slang is the use of highly informal words and expressions that are not considered standard in the speaker’s dialect or language.

Few linguists have endeavored to clearly define what constitutes slang. Attempting to remedy this, Bethany K. Dumas and Jonathan Lighter argue that an expression should be considered “true slang” if it meets at least two of the following criteria:

  • It lowers, if temporarily, “the dignity of formal or serious speech or writing”; in other words, it is likely to be seen in such contexts as a “glaring misuse of register.”
  • Its use implies that the user is familiar with whatever is referred to, or with a group of people who are familiar with it and use the term.
  • “It is a taboo term in ordinary discourse with people of a higher social status or greater responsibility.”
  • It replaces “a well-known conventional synonym.” This is done primarily to avoid “the discomfort caused by the conventional item [or by] further elaboration.

An example would be “getting a pop”, meaning getting a haircut, or buying threads as in buying clothes”.” Slang should be distinguished from jargon…


is terminology which which is the technical vocabulary of a particular profession. Jargon, like many examples of slang, may be used to exclude non–group members from the conversation, but in general has the function of allowing its users to talk precisely about technical issues in a given field. It has been especially defined in relationship to a specific activity, profession, or group. In other words, the term covers the language used by people who work in a particular area or who have a common interest. Much like slang it develops as a kind of short-hand, to quickly express ideas that are frequently discussed between members of a group. In many cases a standard term may be given a more precise or unique usage among practitioners of a field. In many cases this may cause a barrier to communication with those not familiar with the language of the field. Examples can be words related to the computer. RAM, Hard Disk Drive, CPU, Graphics Card and etc. are jargon as they are related to computers.

One comment on “Slang & Jargon in English

  1. Nias May 7,2009 11:15 am

    thanks to your article, easy to understand and helpful for my students.

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