Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Slang: A male domain?

Abstract

A brief overview of various definitions of the problematic term “slang” precedes a discussion of stereotyped perceptions of slang and whether it is a male or female linguistic characteristic. Following this is a report on an investigation carried out on 160 South African adolescents, which attempted to measure the effect of the following variables on the use of slang: sex, age and type of school. Although interesting sex-related differences are revealed in the results, which can be correlated with the theme of social power and status, it is argued that the expected differences between males and females in this area are not as striking as one is led to believe by literature in the field, and that the gap is likely to close: it is probably not the sex of the speaker alone that influences slang usage, but also, and perhaps more importantly, his/her age and scholastic environment.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Bailey, R., (1985), “SAE slang: form, functions, and origins” SA Journal of Linguistics, 3/1, 1–42.

  2. Brandford, J., (1987). A Dictionary of South African English: Oxford University Press, Cape Town.

  3. Bruning, J., and Kintz, B. (1977). Computational handbook of statistics: Scott Foresman, Glenview, Illinois.

  4. Cheshire, J. (1984). “Indigenous non-standard varieties and education”: in Trudgill, P. (ed.), Applied Sociolinguistics: Academic, London, 564–588.

  5. Cheshire, J. (1985). “A question of masculine bias”: English Today, 1, 22–26.

  6. Crystal, D. (1987). The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

  7. Dumas, B. K., and Lighter, J. (1978). “Is slang a word for linguists?” American Speech, 53, 5–17.

  8. Fernald, J. C. (1918). Expressive English: Funk and Wagnalls, New York.

  9. Flexner, S. B. (1971). “Slang”: in Encyclopaedia Britannica: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Chicago.

  10. Flexner, S. B., and Wentworth, H. (1975). Dictionary of American Slang: Crowell, New York.

  11. Foerster, N., and Steadman, J. (1941). Writing and thinking: A handbook of composition and revision: revised edition, Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

  12. Genung, J. F. (1893). Outline of Rhetoric: Ginn, Boston.

  13. Gleason, H. (1961). An introduction to descriptive linguistics: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York.

  14. Hayakawa, S. I. (1941). Language in action: Harcourt Brace, New York.

  15. Hodges, J. and Whitten, M. (1967). Harbrace College Handbook, 6th ed.: Harcourt-Brace and World, New York.

  16. Horvath, B. (1985). Variation in Australian English: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

  17. Jespersen, O. (1922). Language: its nature, development and origin: Allen and Unwin, London.

  18. Labov, W. (1966). The social stratification of English in New York City: Washington DC Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington.

  19. Labov, W. (1972). Sociolinguistic Patterns: University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.

  20. Miller, C., and Swift, K. (1978). Words and women: New language in new times: Anchor/Doubleday, New York.

  21. Miller, C., and Swift, K. (1981). Handbook of non-sexist writing: Women's Press, London.

  22. Millhauser, M. (1952). “The case against slang”: English journal, 41, 306–309.

  23. Milroy, L. (1980). Language and Social Networks: Blackwell, Oxford.

  24. Milroy, L. (1987). Observing and Analysing Natural Language: Blackwell, Oxford.

  25. Milward, D. (1937). “The origin and derivation of the slang in use among the women students in the University of Cape Town in the year 1937”: Unpublished Masters thesis, University of Cape Town.

  26. Partridge, E. (1935). Slang today and yeasterday: Macmillan, London.

  27. Rapoport, A. (1975). Semantics: Thomas Crowell, New York.

  28. Romaine, S. (1984). The language of children and adolescents: Blackwell, Oxford.

  29. Schulz, M. (1975). “The semantic derogation of women” in Thorne, B., and Henley, N. (eds.) (1975) Language and sex: difference and dominance: Rowley, Mass., Newbury House.

  30. Scoring, K. (1981). Lexical innovations: a study of slang, colloquialisms and casual speech: John Benjamins, Amsterdam.

  31. Woods, A., Fletcher, P., and Hughes, A. (1986). Statistics in language studies: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

de Klerk, V. Slang: A male domain?. Sex Roles 22, 589–606 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00288237

Download citation

Keywords

  • Social Psychology
  • Social Power
  • Linguistic Characteristic
  • Problematic Term
  • Male Domain