Last Updated 08 Apr 2020

What is Stylistics Approach?

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Another approach to define slang is the stylistic approach. Within this approach it is defined as a level of usage. Partridge (1947) neutrally and rather vaguely defines slang as "the quintessence of colloquial speech", or as in Flexner (1960) that it is "not accepted as good, formal usage by majority." In brief, slang is put into opposition to formal language: namely, it is below standard discourse and the neutral stylistic level, and typical of informal relaxed speech.

Furthermore, slang is also juxtaposed to other non-standard varieties: it is neither dialect nor register, nor can it be assigned to the concepts of cant, argot, or jargon. Slang is changing rapidly; therefore it can be regarded as a short-lived ephemeral vocabulary that is expecting either to pass into obsolescence or becomes accepted in standard language.

According to linguistic approach slang is regarded as the use of ordinary words in extraordinary senses or of extraordinary words in ordinary senses. This approach emphasizes the aspects of novelty and freshness of slang. Jespersen (1922) states that slang "finds amusement in the creation and propagation of new words and in attaching new meanings to old words". Sornig (1981) defines slang as "an experimental language". Mattiello (2008) highlights that slang distinguished from standard language in its morphology and its semantics.

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In morphology, "it is characterized by clear insubordination as regards the standard word-formation rules", and in semantics, "it only renames everyday objects, but also enriches, qualifies and complexifies them". If on the one hand, it is agreed that slang is a certain lexical layer, then giving to it the rank of language leads to miscomprehension and ambiguity.

But, if slang is a language or a dialect, then it should be characterized not only by its peculiar use of words but also by phonetic, morphological and syntactical peculiarities. Nowadays slang covers both the specific and general sense. Usually it consists of new words and novel or extended meanings, and develops from the attempt to find fresh, vigorous, colourful, pungent or humorous expressions.

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