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Ключевые слова - страница №1/1

Гавриленко Анна Владимировна Украина, г. Сумы СумГУ, студентка кафедры теории и практики перевода
ENGLISH AND AMERICAN MODERN SLANG. PECULIARITIES OF TRANSLATION.
В статье рассматривается понятие сленга, особенности употребления и перевода, отличительные черты. Предусмотрены примеры ошибок при переводе английских и американских сленгизмов, современный сленг как живое динамическое явление.

Ключевые слова: сленг, ирония, рифмованный сленг,денотативный компонент значения, негативная конотация, метафора.

The article deals with the definition of a slang, peculiarities of using and translation, a rank of features and characteristics. The examples of mistakes made while translating English and American slangisms, a modern slang as a dynamic phenomenon have been stated.

Key words: slang, irony, rhyming slang, denotative component, negative connotation, metaphor.
From the point of view of psychology slang is an act of distinguishing a smaller social group that can be comfortably joined and understood. It is an act of featuring the self within the subculture: by cleverness, by control, by up-to-dateness, by insolence, and usually satirical wit, by aggression.

Slang is a universal human trait and as old as the race itself. It appeared in the same human society where language itself was born. Authorities also agree, as it happens, that the roots of slang must be sought in the deepest parts of the mind, in the unconscious itself.

Slang is necessary for the development of the self. A society would be impossible without it. It is curious that a linguistic phenomenon should at the same time be so vital to human growth and order5.

Slang is designed to make speech more casual and playful. Generally, it diffuses through a group of people, and it may spread out across an entire region. Those who are not in that group may pick up the slang as well, causing the spread of usage. But sometimes the slang may remain isolated.

College students, for instance, often develop complex slang terms.

5 Chapman. Robert L., 1920 – Dictionary of American slang. II. Title.P.13

As these students leave, they carry these terms to other young people, often making the speech of the younger generation incomprehensible to those outside of it. Frank K. Sechrist wrote penetratingly of the psychology of slang in his Psychology of Unconventional Language (1913). According to this work «Тhe emotional tension produced by slang is greater than that of more customary and conventional language, and the mind in time seeks a relief from it» .

Slang is considered to be much spoken than a literary language. An important source of slang is the language of students. So there are many slang words which came into standard English:



  1. «a cool cat» means that a man is very nice and interesting;

  2. «a dummy» is someone who is a bit slow;

Nowadays politicians use slang as well. It helps them to convey the precise sense of what they want to say. They use such slang phrases:

  1. «rooster» is a clamorous and noisy member of parliament;

  2. If you talk about a decision being made in a «smoke-filled room», you mean that it is made by a small group of people in a private meeting, rather than in a more democratic or open way.

  3. «The court! Only the court! We are going not to the reshalovo (ABC hall), but to the court!». «Reshalovo» (ABC hall) means the place where a person may resolve any problem in his/her favor usually paying for that.

Generally, slang is not peculiar to deputies, party members etc. because they are official persons. In cases they use slang people make sure that they are identical with authority. On the other hand, politicians use slang words to avoid filthy language1.

Slang has often attracted the attention of lexicographers. It should mentioned that the best-known English slang dictionary is compiled by E. Partridge.



1 Актуальные вопросы теории и практики филологических исследований: материалы II Международной научно-практической конференции 25-26 марта 2012 года. – Пенза – Москва – Решт: Научно-издательский центр «Социосфера», 2012.C.166

There were different opinions concerning its nature, its boundaries and the attitude that should be adopted towards it. The point is whether it makes our language brighter or just destroys it and causes a vocabulary decay. This is a contestable issue.

Slang words are identified and distinguished by contrasting them to standard literary vocabulary. Here are some examples of various slang words for

1. money, such, as beans, brass, dibs, dough, oof, wads;

2. head are attic, brain-pan, hat peg, nut, upper storey;

Therefore while discussing the peculiarities of slang we shall only emphasize that the most important characteristics of slang concern not form but content. It is expressive, and stylistically coloured and is the marked member of a stylistic opposition.

Indeed, it has been stated that after a slang word has been used in speech for some period of time, people get accustomed to it. Then it ceases to produce that shocking effect for which it has been originally created. The most vital among slang words are then accepted into literary vocabulary. The examples are bet, bore, chap, donkey, fun, humbug, mob, odd, pinch, shabby, sham, snob, trip, also some words from the American slang: graft, hitch-hiker, sawbones, etc. These words were originally slang words but have now become part of literary vocabulary. The most prominent place among them is occupied by words or expressions having no synonyms and serving as expressive names for some specific notions. For example a teenager2.

Special vocabulary is used in the criminal sphere. There are many slang words denoting

1. prison : can, chokey, clink, cooler, nick, peter, slammer, stir.

2. those being sent to prison or being in prison: bang up, do bird, go down, be inside, do porridge, send up/ down.



2 Арнольд И.В. Лексикология современного английского языка. Учеб. для ни-тов и фак. иностр. Яз. – 3-е изд., перераб. И доп. – М.: Высш. шк., 1986. C.249

The police are referred to by a number of slang terms, including: a bogey, the filth, the fuzz, the pigs. A police informer is a nark, who may grass (inform) and so shop (betray to the police) his colleagues, because he has decided to go straight (not engage in criminal activity).

Rhyming slang is also thought to have originated as a criminal language, in London's Cockney-speaking East End. In rhyming slang, a usually two-word phrase rhymes with and provides the substitute for a normal English word. For example, the hook of butcher's hook rhymes with look and the phrase becomes the rhyming slang word for look. The connection may then be lost when the phrase is shortened to the first item. Consequently, butcher's in the phrase have a butcher's, means have a look6.

Indeed, slang words are clearly motivated. Their lexical meaning contains not only the denotative component but also an emotive component (it expresses irony often). Slang is a difficult problem which needs a further research.

Slang words are continually appearing. In fact they express an emotive side of communication rather than the main thought3. It makes the language bright and alive.

In most cases slang comprises old words but with new meanings or their shades.

In linguistics of English slang has a rank of peculiarities, some features. These are some of them:

1. It’s a lexical phenomenon. It comprises words or word combinations. They are sometimes called slangisms.

2. Slang is not a literary language.

3. It’s a vocabulary usually appearing and used in oral speech.

4. Slang is an emotionally colored phenomenon.

5. It has a familiar tinge.

Funny mistakes in translation of English and American slang.

6 Howard Jackson. Etienne Ze Amvela. Words, Meaning and Vocabulary.GB. Tyne and Wear, 2007.P.157

3 Раєвська Н.М. Лексикологія англійської мови. Київ: «Вища школа», 1979.C.257

There are some slang words which in both mentioned above languages should be translated in quite a different way.

For example, grass as a slang word in the USA is rendered into Ukrainian as «травка»(a drug), but in England it is «стукач».

To table something in England means to discuss something but in America it is to postpone the discussion.

To be pissed in England means drunk as a skunk, in the USA it means to get angry.

To be easy. The English variant is the same as I don’t care. The American one means come-at-able.

Almost all slang words are current. Their meaning have been metaphorically shifted. Every slang metaphor has its roots in a joke with mocking and cynical coloring. Those people who use slang very often seem to be sneering at something.

Why do people use slang? The main reasons are: to be different, striking. Although it is usually used by the youth or uneducated slang tends to be widespread among all the groups of population.

Slang units nominate things, different phenomena, notions. They render special pragmatic power, realize negative connotation. These units are very far from neutral or official style. They are often marked as «terms of abuse».

Both the linguistic and social competence of the part of translator are needed while translating slangy words. They may be rendered by standard and substandard words and phrases in the target language as well as by separate words of polylexical units (i.e. direct equivalents, descriptive equivalents, expressive means, lexical, grammatical, stylistic transformation).

When using slang we should be sure that the sense we are going to convey can’t be expressed in a different way. The overuse of this unit attracts much attention. We should avoid it4.



4 Швачко С.О. Проблеми синхронного перекладу. Навчальний посібник. – Вінниця: «Фоліант», 2004.C.80