1. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Slang Versus Correct

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Cacian, Dec 17, 2011.

    Is Slang reliable to use instead of correct English?

    An example I ran into:

    He said he was pissed off.

    An American reader would not understand it but would understand

    He was pissed.

    to be pissed means to be drunk in English.

    which would you usually go for or do you use both?
     
  2. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    Pissed off means to be angry, pissed means intoxicated or pissed off, and piss off means to go away. I'm American and understand all of these, though rarely are the last two used by folks I know (though pissed as meaning angry is sometimes used). For slang, I would only use it if it had a purpose to serve (the way a character talked, thought, to draw up a certain emotion, etc.). I would steer clear of the majority of slang outside of dialogue.
     
  3. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I see.
    How do you say I am drunk and angry then?
    I am not clear on this.
    Are you also saying you would use Slang in dialogues in your writings?
    Intoxicated means poisened in English as in real poison.
     
  4. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I am drunk and angry.

    Yes. Most people use some sort of slang in their speech. Using it in dialogue only adds authenticity.

    Well, intoxicated means drunk. I didn't know it meant poisoned in the UK, but if you think about it, alcohol is a "real" poison.
     
  5. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Pissed only means 'drunk' in British English, not angry.
    In some genres there is a lot of slang, but bear in mind that it can date. Slang in dialogue makes it more genuine and shows character, background, etc.
     
  6. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    what about readers who do not converse or understand slang?
     
  7. JillOfHearts
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    I think either would be fine. I personally would write 'He said he was pissed off.'
    As for readers who do not understand slang, I think that they would probably be able to guess. If they really wanted to know, they could use the Internet.
     
  8. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Ican understand one can use the Internet.
    The point I am making is that Slang does not cater for everyday.
    If you expect them to second guess you then you have in effect put them off reading your work.


    p.s
    what do you mean by PM if you have words with friends?
     
  9. Prophetsnake
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    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    Sometimes that can be a good thing.


    And slang does cater fro every day, it does not cater for everyone.
     
  10. Cacian
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    what can be a good thing?
    Using the Internet?
    I meant slang does not cater for everybody.
     
  11. Prophetsnake
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    Not having every tom dick and harry into your work. Joyce is very popular in Germany, for instance.

    Well if it were, it would not be slang.
     
  12. Raki
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    Yea, I know, but Americans also use 'pissed' as a short for 'pissed off' (Man, you shouldn't have done that. He's pissed at you.).
     
  13. Prophetsnake
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    Yes,the cultural gap is huge. Did you know thye used to call Snickers bars Marathon? they have americanised it now.

    Outrageous. They used to run the London city Marathon , now it is the London City Snickers.
     
  14. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I did not know that, but that is an interesting tidbit. Do they still run the marathon?
     
  15. Prophetsnake
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    Well that last bit was a joke, but I am sure they do. doesn't every big town have one nowadays?
     
  16. Cacian
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    For me, excuse my term, this means
    he has weed on something.
     
  17. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Why wouldn't want every Tom, Dick and Harry into my work?
    I write for the majority.
    That is the only way to secure my success right?
    It is an interesting point you have made because I was not aware that some only write for the minority.
    would you say Dickens only wrote for the rich and educated or the upperclass?
     
  18. Prophetsnake
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    I write for one person, plus myself. the rest of the world can like it or lump it. I don;t actually like Dickens, so he can write for whoever he chooses.
     
  19. mammamaia
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    drunk:
    pissed; blotto; swacked; sloshed; inebriated; bombed; wasted; smashed; tight; tipsy; etc.

    angry:
    pissed; pissed off; ticked; ticked off; teed off; fuming; seeing red; hot; steamed; etc.

    of course!... when/where it's called for... all writers do to some extent, since so many slang words/expressions have become part of the common vernacular...

    yes, but not in common usage...
     
  20. Raki
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    Really? I assume you mean "angry" with "pissed" and not "drunk"? I still recall a few memories from my childhood where a fellow, whose parents befriended my grandfather during WWII, visited us from England for a few months. I'm fairly sure he used the phrase "He's pissed" once or twice when talking about someone who was beyond tipsy. At the time, I'm sure I asked, "What's he mad about?" But I could be mistaken about all that (I plead ignorance, if I am). It was a long time ago. What I do remember with more certainty was that this fellow was a smoker, and the folks I grew up with, some of them anyway, were a back of the woods, uneducated, hillbilly-type bunch who also craved nicotine but got it through American snuff (like chewing tobacco, you put it in your lip and suck on it) instead of cigarettes. They got him to try it one night, and when asked if he wanted some more, he said, "No, I'll just stick with the fags," and the room went silent.

    Obviously, cultural differences and slang terms are extremely important to building up your characters and settings and making them feel real. My question is, how do you learn enough about the different cultures to make them feel authentic, short of immersing yourself into them for a year or two each? I'm American, and I know a few British terms, but not nearly enough to make a British character feel real or to place my setting in the UK with any confidence (odds are, it would feel real to me, but contain some major flaws I did not see that only others would notice). And to me, such things are big turn-offs for a story when I notice them. I served in the Marines, which has its own cultural experiences, and there's really nothing worse than when I see a movie or read a book that has Marines crying out the Army's battle cry or that depicts any of the military branches wrong. It just feels like the person doing the research for it had the thought, "Well, the Marines are military, and military is military. It's all the same," which is comparable to saying that all countries and regions are the same. Yes, the may have some similarities, but it's the differences that stand out and make each of them unique. How would you say one should go about learning these differences?

    There's an essay by Jimmy Olsen called "Finding the Right Words" that talks about this, but takes it one step further. Once you learn these differences, how do you communicate them to someone who doesn't know of them in your writing in a way not to alienate those who do?
     
  21. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think one has to look at slang usage from two views - one, using it in dialogue to deepen the characterization, and second, based on what your audience is. If you're writing YA, there's a whole vocabulary of slang one could use to make the characters 'real' and the readers wouldn't be confused. Use that same slang in an adult romance and not only would it be inappropriate for the characters, it would most likely leave the readers confused.
     

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