VCE ENGLISH LANGUAGE - Why do we use slang?

February 16, 2021Klein E

This article is primarily written for Unit 3 AOS 1, although the ABC article sourced for this article can also be used for Unit 4.

As we continue to move through 2018 and start to get back into the swing of things, students of English language need to continue to find real-life examples to help enrich their essays. Given that most of you are studying informal language, I thought that it would be a good idea to discuss some recent linguistic activity and discussion that relates to it.

On Tuesday when I was trying to find something to base this article around, I stumbled across this one from Kate Burridge and Howard Manns, who are both linguists working at Monash University.

Reading this article got me thinking, why do we use informal language such as slang? What is its purpose in society?

This article discusses how, "goon," which is a colloquial term for cheap, low quality wine has been the source of significant linguistic innovation since before you and I was even born. Each generation likes to have their own slang, and although terms such as goon have become ingrained in Australian society, variations based off it such as, "goon bag," which was prominent in the late 1990's, and the more contemporary term, "goon sack." The evolution of new slang terms promotes a strong sense of in-group membership among users of the terms as it is a term that, “belongs,” to that particular group, and also excludes people from outside the “in-group,” as they are less likely to understand the term.

The ability of slang to promote in-group membership and to help show solidarity is also shown by this article's observation that the use of slang is an important way of fitting into society and not being an "outsider."

In summary, informal language such as slang serves a variety of purposes in modern society. Slang continues to change and is often paramount to a person's ability to fit into an "in-group," and to be able to show solidarity with other members of society.

One more thing before you go do something else with your time, the terms that are bolded in the article are the key purposes of informal language that are on the current study design.

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Klein E

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