By Leslie Dunkling

ISBN-10: 0203191951

ISBN-13: 9780203191958

ISBN-10: 0203331206

ISBN-13: 9780203331200

ISBN-10: 0415007615

ISBN-13: 9780415007610

Why are audio system of English regularly calling one another names? This booklet is when you are looking to discover the phrases of handle utilized in English. offered in a hugely readable shape, it presents a advisor to utilization and lots more and plenty to entertain.

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Such skills learnt in childhood may be useful in the adult world, where the slanging, or scolding, matches continue, sometimes taking on special forms. The sixteenth-century Scottish poets versified the whole procedure in the flyting. Many modern black Americans do something similar when they ‘play the dozens’, as they call it, the insults sometimes taking the form of rhymed couplets. An important element in the dozens—also called ‘sounding’ and ‘signifying’—is the audience, which evaluates the insults used by the contestants.

No-one over thirty (and for that matter, no-one of any sensitivity under thirty) is likely to use the offensive expression ‘you flid’, for instance. Older speakers, however, may continue to use words which have gone out of fashion. One cannot imagine a young person naturally saying ‘you cad’. This point hardly needs much emphasis: it is clear that a speaker’s personal version of his native language, his idiolect, will tend to become rather fossilized after a certain point. Even if an individual continues to take new words into his active vocabulary, he will not usually abandon the old ones.

Dictionary entries will be found for terms such as Aussie, Dago, Eyetie, Harp, Limey, Yank, and the like, where the known or assumed nationality of the hearer is a key factor. It is obviously of equal importance when generic nicknames of the ‘Taffy’, ‘Paddy’, and ‘Jock’ type are used. There would be little point in calling a Scotsman ‘Taffy’. Sometimes a specific reference to nationality is included in a vocative group. In The Limits of Love, by Frederic Raphael, occurs ‘you bloody Irish scab’; The Hiding Place, by Robert Shaw, has ‘you poor German idiots’; The Half Hunter, by John Sherwood, has an example of ‘you horrid old Austrian pig’; The River of Diamonds, by Geoffrey Jenkins, has ‘you Malay bastard’.

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A Dictionary of Epithets and Terms of Address by Leslie Dunkling


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