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重点论文网    文科论文    英语论文    美国俚语的幽默与自由化
创建时间:10-17

美国俚语的幽默与自由化

一、    综述国内外对本课题的研究动态,说明选题的依据和意义:
曾经被视为“粗俗低级”、“不能登大雅之堂”的俚语,如今不仅已渐渐被众人所接受,使用更被视为时尚之举。俚语的作用和地位与日俱增,连一贯严谨的政客为了树立“亲民”形象,也在某些场合使用俚语。这一发展趋势在语言学家下的定义中可窥见一斑:1828 年的《韦氏大词典》把俚语定义为“一种低级、庸俗、缺乏表现力的语言”,1911 年的《牛津英语辞典》已把“低级”和“庸俗”两个词去掉,而1963年版的《现代高级英语辞典》则已定义为“俚语(一般用于谈话,但不适于好的写作或正式场合的词语) , (尤指) 某一阶层人士的惯用法”。但事实上,一部分俚语由于具有极强的表现力,也常常为圈外人士所使用。正如词典学家H. Bradley 所指出:“几乎没有人满足于总把事情说得明明白白,司空见惯的词似乎常常由于熟悉而失去力量,要是换上一个生动逼真或者怪诞可笑的隐语,平铺直叙的枯燥语言就会变得生动,趣味盎然。这种情不自禁的更换说明了俚语不断发展的原因。”在国内,也有于涵(2003)、杭树印(2004)、李耿(2005)等一大批学者为此做出多年的努力和研究,他们从宏观和微观两方面对美国俚语的特点进行分析比较,对于增进我们对美国的社会了解有着实际的意义。
   为此,本人依照前人的研究成果,试图从俚语的定义、美国俚语的构成、美国俚语的渊源及其特点四个方面的论述,指出俚语虽然属于非正式语体,但却极富文化内涵和时代精神。


二、    研究的基本内容,拟解决的主要问题:
本文以前人提出的有关美国英语中的俚语的起源、发展历史、特点等研究的理论为基础,结合有关学者在研究美国俚语的发展趋势、语言特色、以及其折射出的社会文化心理的理论依据、研究步骤以及研究方法,通过对实际例子分析,说明美国俚语的幽默与自由化这两大特点。论文还会从语音、词汇、语法等方面分析美国俚语的两大特点及语用功能,可了解丰富多彩的美国语言文化与社会文化。


三、研究的步骤、方法、措施及进度安排:
1.研究步骤:
(1)在指导老师的帮助下,通过网络资源以图书馆的资料,收集所写论题的相关文献,了解国内外对美国俚语及其特点的研究状态和研究成果,确定论文题目;
(2)整理、总结和综合已有资料,如期收到指导下达的任务书并写出论文提纲;
(3)在指导老师的帮助下对论文提纲进行修改,完善论文提纲;
(4)根据指导老师的修改意见,反复修改开题报告,进一步完善论文的结构和内容;
(5)综合已有的资料和语料分析结果,完成了开题报告;在指导老师的指导下,着手论文初稿,从对美国俚语定义;幽默与自由化的特点的体现以及折射出的社会文化心理这三个方面完成初稿,并交由指导老师审阅;
(6)交第二稿、审稿、最后定稿答辩。
2.方法及措施:
 通过图书馆、因特网以及指导老师所提供的资料,查找相关领域的最新理论、收集资料和研究语料,认真对美国俚语的发展进行历史总结,通过从语音、词汇、语法等方面分析美国俚语的两大特点完成论文,在指导老师的帮助和指导下,结合同学之间的交流和沟通完善本研究。
3.进度安排:
(1)选题、定题:
(2)资料查询:
(3)写出开题报告及提纲:
(4)初稿:
(5)第二稿:
(6)中期检查:
(7)定稿:
(8)答辩: 

 
四、主要参考文献:
[1]Holley, Shawn Marilyn. Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expression with Pictures. Beijing: Qinghua University Press, 1996. 
[2] Morris, William .The American Heritage Dictionary. Boston,: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992. 
[3]Spears, Richard A., .NTC's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expression. Chicago: NTC publishing Group, 1996.
[4]Tottie, Gunnel. An Introduction to American English. Beijing: Beijing University Press, 2005.
[5]Wentwort, Harold and S.B. Flexner. Dictionary of American Slang. New York: Tomas Y. Crowell Publishers, 1975.
[6]江宁康:《美国社会与文化》。 南京:东南大学出版社, 2004年。
[7]杭树印:《生活在美国——最新美国俚语指南》。 沈阳:东北大学出版社,2004年。
[8]李耿:《常用英语俚语》。 长沙:国防科技大学, 2005年。
[9]邱政文:《美国情景喜剧俚语百分百》。 北京:世界图书出版社, 2002                年。
[10]于涵:《美语口语俚语》。 北京:世界图书出版社, 2003年。
[11]朱永涛:《英语国家社会与文化入门(下册)》。 北京:高等教育出版社,2004年。

Contents

Introduction……………………………………………………..……………1
1 An Overall Review of American Slang……………………………….……….2
 1.1 Definition of Slang……………………...……………………………....2
 1.2 Position of American Slang………………...………………….…….….4
2 Ways to Achieve Humorous Effect…….…….…..…………………………. ..6
 2.1 Playing with Repetition……………………….……………………..… 6
 2.2 Playing with Changing the Words…..………...…………….………. …7
 2.3 Playing with Sounds…...………………………..……………………....7
 2.4 Interesting Stories……...………………………..……………..……......8
3 Ways to Achieve Casualness………...………………...…….………………...8
 3.1 Compounding….………………………………...……………………...8
 3.2 Shortening …….…………………………………...…………………....9
 3.3 Blending………………………………………….…..………………....9
4 Humor and Casualness Stemming from American Culture……....…..........10
Conclusion …………………………………………………………..………...13
Works Cited ……………………………………….…………………..……….14
Acknowledgments ……………………………………………………..……...15

Introduction 
America shows its character in a constant experimentation, a wide hospitality to novelty, a steady reaching out for new and vivid forms. No other tongue of modern times admits foreign words and phrases more readily; none is more careless of precedents; none shows a greater fecundity and originality of fancy. It is producing new words every day, by trope, by agglutination, by the shedding of inflections, by the merging of parts of speech, and by sheer brilliance of imagination. It is full of what Bret Harte called the “sabre-cuts of Saxon” (Holly 8). American slang originally came from social life, from history evens to occupations and events. Because of its rich sources, it’s automatically complicated and enormous in numbers. Slang changes every day and every minute. While the social life changes rapidly, its slang has to adapt to this ever-changing situations. Fortunately, although it changes so quickly, it has passed down to subsequent generations. And America is acknowledged for her advance in modernization, democracy, and is also notorious for her violence, drugs, high divorce rate, crimes, political scandals, and so on. American subculture groups are jobless vagrants, soldiers, sailors, detectives, cowboys, prostitutes, students, music and football fans, drug addicts, professional men, jazz musicians, gamblers, criminals, political craftsmen, etc. They are the merit makers of America both to her bright side and dark side. These groups are the cradles of American slang. So the slang can provide us rich information of American society and have an insight of its cross section.
During my exploration, the aim of the paper was explain the two characters of American slang, and taking their historical usage into account where possible. If we learned what is American slang and the two characters of American slang we can learn American slang more easily and well, also we can understand how the modern English develops, especially good for our English learners. What’s more, In the cross-cultural communication, people from different cultures may come across many problems and difficulties, and more so when the content of their communication contains many slangy expressions. As we have learned from the previous chapters, it is rather hard for people who don’t belong to the source culture to understand the slang, let alone the appreciation of them. And sometimes in cross-cultural communication, if people in target language have little or no idea about the slangy words or phrases in the source culture, difficulties or even embarrassment may occur.

1 An Overall Review of American Slang
Rich and colorful Slang is an important component in English, especially in American English. It is brimming with youth vigor. In the recent twenty-five years, it has changed with each passing day and with the world’s development. Much old wording has been cut off and a large amount of new wording was added to slang. For years, the disorganized language used only by the underworld people, has appeared more often in some famous newspapers, magazines, and autobiographies of remarkable people, even we can find slang in some speeches given by some American Presidents.   
1.1 Definition of Slang
Slang, an ever-changing set of colloquial words and phrases, is an indispensable component of English language. It makes itself heard not only in the street, at the bar, but in the prison, the pulpit and even in the Houses of Parliament; its artistic possibilities have also been realized through masterpieces of such well-known writers as William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, O. Henry et al.; what’s more, nowadays books, newspapers and magazines are flooded with slang. Thus with the popular and flourishing use of slang in daily life, it is impossible to acquire a thorough knowledge of English without being familiar with slang.
The ultimate origin of the word slang is not certainly known. It was once supposed that the term “slang” is a development of a Germanic root from which the current English “sling” is derived, and this explanation is supported by the fact that the sound and the figurative meaning of “slang” resembles the standard word “sling” as used in the picturesque archaic expressions such as “to sling one’s jaw”, meaning to speak rowdily or insultingly; or “to sling off at” which means to jeer at a person. Another forcible conjecture is that “slang” is originated from these phrases such as “beggars’ language” or “rogues’ language”, in which the genitive suffix of the first noun, that is, the “s” attaches to the initial syllable of the second noun “language” so as to form a new word “slanguage” and then the final syllable “-uage” is lost.
What is slang then? This question, like a small child’s, is a natural one to ask, but a difficult one to answer. Ever since the first appearance of the word “slang” in around the 18th century, definitions have occurred to many lexicographers, but with the social and psychological complexities captured in slang and the variation of its connotation in different times, there has never been a satisfying and fixed definition so far. Even the authoritative encyclopedia such as Encyclopedia Britannica just presents us a rough and unsatisfactory explanation rather than a fixed definition which goes like this: “Difficult to define, slang consists basically of unconventional words or phrases that express either something new or something old in a new way. It is flippant, irreverent, and indecorous; it may be indecent or obscene… ” Despite the various and dramatic definitions of slang, they do act as a mirror of the scholars’ attitudes towards slang. Viewing from the overall history of slang, we can roughly group their attitudes into three processes: at first, the sheer negative attitude; and then the negative attitude going side by side with the strong affirmative one; gradually it turns into the objective attitude.
The term “slang” was first recorded in Lynton’s Pelham in 1828, at that time, it was applied to the speech of disreputable and criminal classes in London(Morris 2). This connotation lasted for quite a long period. So there is no wonder that scholars then took a sheer negative attitude towards slang. Among them, Dr. Johnson, compiler of the first English dictionary, took slang for the language that “ought not to be admitted into legitimate language” (Morris 4). Noah Webster, an outstanding lexicographer, shared the same viewpoint with Johnson and held that slang was low, vulgar and unmeaning language. Slang was even inveighed as “…the conversation of fools” by J. P. Thomas, a British critic. (Morris 4) Generally speaking, slang was looked down upon by the educated and especially the lexicographers in the stage.
From about 1850, slang has become the accepted term for “illegitimate” colloquial speech. But even after 1850, slang was not accepted with general good grace, for in 1873, Hotten was heard protesting the restriction of the term to “those lowest words only which are used by the dangerous classes and the lowest grades of the society.” (Tottie 34) This negative attitude has been prevalent till the end of the 19th century. However, some people, meanwhile, begin to notice the positive side of slang, and set to raise their voice to speak for slang. Among these pioneers, Mr. G. k. Chesterton, a British detective story writer, was worthy of noticing. He said in 1901: “All slang is metaphor and all metaphor is poetry”. (Tottie 34) These two opposite attitudes coexisted for decades till the early years of the 20th century.
With the elapse of time and the development of science, people tend to view the world in a more objective and scientific way. So is people’s attitude towards slang. J. Brander Matthews said in 1893 through The Atlantic Monthly: “Slang is the foe and the friend of the English language…The distinctive test of good slang…is that it has a real meaning. Bad slang has no meaning; it is simply a succession of sounds which, because they come trippingly from the tongue, impose upon the ignorant imagination of the reader…Good slang is idiomatically expressive and has a narrow escape sometimes from being poetical.” (Tottie 56) Guided by this unbiased attitude, linguists, especially the lexicographers put forward more scientific and objective definitions. Collins Dictionary of the English Language offers us a definition like this: “vocabulary, idiom, etc.
1.2 Position of American Slang
 Slang is generally a bit wittier and cleverer than Standard American English according to Tom Dalzell. Slang is everywhere he says — and youth slang, in particular, exerts enormous power.
In 1892,Walt Whitman described slang as “the start of fancy, imagination and humor, breathing into its nostrils the breath of life.” (Wentwort 5) Slang permeates our everyday speech, for reasons that are not difficult to grasp. To persist, it is both ephemeral and fecund, traits that are nowhere more apparent than in the slang of youth.
Slang pervades American speech to a startling degree. One need look no further than the headline writers and purveyors of popular culture who rush to embrace the latest phrase, countered by the prescriptive guardians of standard English and morality who bemoan its use, to gauge slang’s persistent presence in everyday American English.
This fact should not surprise. By design, slang is for the most part a bit wittier and cleverer than standard English; borrowing from Whitman once more, slang’s “rich flashes of humor and genius and poetry”(Holly 5) are endearing to a species that seem to have a genetic inclination to linguistic creativity. Slang’s primary reason for being — to establish a sense of commonality among its speakers — ensures its widespread use. And in a society preoccupied with social status, slang’s rich vocabulary addressing status even further guarantees its spread.
American slang is also known for its fertility, reproducing itself in new combinations. At any given moment, there are many, many slang words and expressions in use in America. By a process of natural selection, only the strong survive. Most are quickly discarded and forgotten. With a few notable exceptions — cool being the most notable among them — we tire of even the strong; they fade away, usually after being co-opted by advertisers and headline writers. To counteract its short-lived nature, slang must be — and is — remarkably fertile.
Of the four factors most likely to produce slang — youth, oppression, sport, and vice —youth is the most powerful. Although we are not all oppressed, are not all sports fanatics, and donot all dip our toes into the pool of vice, we are all young once — and thus all subject to the generational imperative to invent a slang vocabulary that we perceive as our own.
Youth slang is blatantly predatory, pouncing on any and all slang for its own purposes. Foremost among its sources is the African-American vernacular, whose influence on American youth slang of the 20th century cannot be over-stated. Beginning in the late 1930s with the wild popularity of swing jazz and the jitterbug, continuing into the “jive generation” that fought World War II, on through the beats and hipsters of the 1950s, the 60s mainstream youth and hippies, and into the pervasive patois of hip-hop, American youth slang has borrowed continually a

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