Going sour: sweet words in slang

Slang—mocking, sneering, casting a jaundiced eye on the world’s proprieties—is by its nature sour. It finds approval hard, congratulation challenging, and affection almost impossible. Yet even if
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Through time, we use, reuse, and recycle words to our liking and even make up completely new words, much to some people’s chagrin. Even words about sweetness—sugar, honey, sweetie—aren’t exempt; in a number of cases, they have been re-spun and re-purposed to fit the uses of everyday communication. In the following excerpt, Jonathon Green, an expert lexicographer and contributor to The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, gives us the rundown of the sweet terms and phrases that have been re-imagined and incorporated into slang. Slang—mocking, sneering, casting a jaundiced eye on the world’s proprieties—is by its nature sour. It finds approval hard, congratulation challenging, and affection almost impossible. Yet even if slang’s oldest meaning of “sugar” is money, and the second oldest a euphemism for the most common term for defecation, slang, for all its skepticism, cannot resist the tempting possibilities of “sweet.” It has no word for “love,” but someone can “be sweet. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Linguistics

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