English Grammar

Words of the colloquial layer

This layer also includes several subgroups:

a) Colloquialisms or common colloquial words are the words that occupy an intermediate position between literary and non-literary stylistic layers and are used in conversational type of everyday speech (awfully sorry, a pretty little thing, teenager, flapper etc).They are usually used in private talks. Common colloquial vocabulary overlaps into the Standard English vocabulary and therefore is to be considered part of it. It borders both on the neutral vocabulary and the special colloquial vocabulary which falls out of Standard English altogether.

Such words and expressions as “take” (in «as I take it», i.e. as I understand); to go for (to be attracted, to like very much’, as in You think she still goes for the guy?); guy (young man); to be gone on (to be madly in love with), pro (a professional) are gradually losing their non-standard character and are becoming widely recognized. The spoken language abounds in set phrases which are colloquial in character (all sorts of things, just a bit, How is life treating you? so-so; so much the better, to be sick and tired if; to be up to something, etc)

However they haven’t lost their colloquial association and still remain in the colloquial layer of the English vocabulary.

Most of them are stylistic synonyms to neutral words (a catcall – whistle; an eyestopper – a beauty; havings – property).

Among common colloquial words are diminutive forms of neutral words (Granny; piggy, Freddy).

b) Slangisms are the words that have originated in everyday speech and exist on the periphery of the lexical system of the given language: go crackers (go mad); garr (god); belt up (keep silence); big-head (a boaster). It is the most extended subgroup of the colloquial layer. Most slangy words convey derogatory and contemptuous attitude towards the moral values of the society virtue, morality, decency. Among slangisms there are many words denoting violence, sex, drugs, drunkards (drunken – boozy, cock-eyed, fluffy, plastered, stinking, wal-eyed, etc; money – cabbage, rhino, dough, chink, etc.)

c) Jargonisms (cantisms). Words used within certain social and professional groups. They fall into 1) social jargonisms and into b) professionalisms.

Social jargonisms are used by certain social class to conceal their meaning from the outsider. There may be words with a distorted shape or ordinary words with a new meaning, for example:

How long did they cook you?

Since 8 in the morning.

You didn’t unbutton them after 12 hours of it?

Me? They’ve got a lot of dancing to do before they get anything out of me.

Social jargonisms are found within groups characterised by social integrity, for example, youth jargonisms, which contains emphatic interjections and words with wide semantic meaning., evaluating epithets, emphatic intensifies.

Cantisms or cant – is the jargon of English criminals which is mostly used to denote drugs, drug addicts, e.g.: drugs: dope; knock-out drops, grass, junk, speed; for drug-addicts – dope fiend, junky, groover, to push – to sell drugs.

Professional jargonisms are used by professional groups to give and vivid names to tools, machines and processes connected with their occupation

In professional jargonisms we can distinguish jargon of musicians, sportsmen, journalists, military men, etc. Jargonisms here denote instruments, processes and some specific features of professional activity. Usually the jargon of one professional group isn’t understood by people of other professions.

E.g. in parliament they say: backbencher – for an ordinary member of the parliament; backwoodsman – for the MP who is seldom present; baby of the house- the youngest MP; in the army they say: lower deck – рядовые; red cap – полицейский военный.

d) Professionalisms are words characteristic of the conversational variant of professional speech. Contrary to terms, professionalisms are the result of metonymic or metaphoric transference of some everyday words: bull (one who buys shares at the stock-exchange); bear (one who sells shares); sparks (a radio-operator); tin-hat (helmet), tin-fish (submarine); piper(a specialist who decorates pastry with the use of a cream-pipe) etc. Professionlisms remain in circulation within a definite community but they are not aimed at secrecy. The skilful use of professionalisms can show education, environment of the character.

e) Vulgarisms are expletives, rude words, coarse words, swear-words or expressions, obscene words, oaths used mostly in the speech of the uncultured and the uneducated, e. g. missus (wife), son of a bitch (a bad person), etc.

There are different degrees of vulgar words. Some of them, obscene words should not be even fixed in common dictionaries. They are euphemistically called «four-letter» words. A lesser degree of vulgarity is presented by expletives, words like bloody, damn, son of a bitch, to hell, and others.

The function of vulgarisms is almost the same as that of interjections, that is to express strong emotions, mainly annoyance, anger, vexation and the like. They are not to be found in any style of speech except emotive prose, and here only in the direct speech of the characters.

The border-line between colloquialisms, slangisms and vulgarisms is often hard to draw for there are hardly any linguistic criteria of discrimination. This explains why one finds so many discrepancies in how these stylistic subgroups are ‘labelled in various dictionaries.

f) Regional dialectisms or dialectal words. Words and expressions used by peasants and others in certain regions of the country: baccy (tobacco), unbeknown (unknown), winder (window), etc. In the process of integration of the English national language dialectal words remained beyond its literary boundaries.

Dialectal words are to be only found in the style of emotive prose to give a colourful characterization to their personalities though their speech, to create a vivacious local colouring. The writers usually manage to convey the original phonetic for

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