British slang is English language slang used and originating in the United Kingdom and also used to a limited extent in Anglophone countries such as the Republic of IrelandSouth AfricaAustraliaCanadaand New Zealandespecially by British expats.
It is also used in the United States to a limited extent. Slang is informal language sometimes peculiar to a particular social class or group and its use in Britain dates back to before the 16th century.
The language of slang, in common with the English language, is changing all the time; new words and phrases are being added and some are used so frequently by so many, they almost become mainstream. While some slang words and phrases are used throughout Britain e. London slang has many varieties, the best known of which is rhyming slang. English-speaking nations of the former British Empire may also use this slang to a certain extent, but also incorporate their own slang words to reflect their different cultures.
Not only is the slang used by British expats, but some of these terms are incorporated into other countries' everyday slang, such as in Australia, Canada and Ireland. British slang has been the subject of many books, including a seven volume dictionary published in Lexicographer Eric Partridge published several works about British slang, most notably Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional Englishrevised and edited by Paul Beale.
Slang is the use of informal words and expressions that are not considered standard in the speaker's dialect or language. Slang is often to be found in areas of the lexicon that refer to things considered taboo see euphemism.
It is often used to identify with one's peers and, although it may be common among young people, it is used by people of all ages and social groups. Collins English Dictionary 3rd edition defines slang as "Vocabulary, idiom etc that is not appropriate to the standard form of a language or to formal contexts, may be restricted as to social status or distribution, and is characteristically more metaphorical and transitory than standard language".
The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar defines it as "Words, phrases, and uses that are regarded as informal and are often restricted to special contexts or are peculiar to specific profession, classes etc". Jonathan Green, in his book The Cassell Dictionary of Slangdefines slang as "A counter language, the language of the rebel, the outlaw, the despised and the marginal".
The dating of slang words and phrases is difficult due to the nature of slang. Slang, more than any other language, remains spoken and resists being recorded on paper or for that matter any other medium.
By the time slang has been written down, it has been in use some time and has, in some cases, become almost mainstream. The first recorded uses of slang in Britain occurred in the 16th century in the plays of Thomas DekkerThomas Middleton and William Shakespeare. The Caveat contained stories of vagabond life, a description of their society and techniques, a taxonomy of rogues, and a short canting dictionary which was later reproduced in other works.
Gent was published, which additionally included some 'civilian' [ clarification needed ] slang terms. It remained the predominant work of its kind for much of the 18th century, until the arrival in of The Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by Captain Francis Grosewhich ran to more than five expanded editions.
In two multi-volumed slang dictionaries went on sale: Henley; the latter being published in seven volumes. It was later abridged to a single volume and released in as A Dictionary of Slang and Colloquial English.
There are a number of different varieties of British slang, arguably the best known of which is Rhyming slang.
Chiefly associated with cockney speech spoken in the East End of Londonwords are replaced with a phrase which rhymes. Often only the first word is used, so plates and twist by themselves become the colloquialisms for "feet" and "girl". Thieves' cant or Rogues' cant was a secret language a cant or cryptolect which was formerly used by thieves, beggars and hustlers of various kinds in Great Britain and to a lesser extent in other English-speaking countries. It is commonly believed that cant was developed from Romany but the Winchester Confessionsa pamphlet published inclearly distinguishes between Gypsy and Cant words.