Bird talk

For all its supposed isolation out there beyond the pale of acceptable discourse — marginal words in the mouths of marginal people — we know a good deal about slang. We know its lexis, and keep
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“Women’s speech is always, in some sense, birdspeech, always, by virtue of gender, sub-human, other. It requires interpretation before we know what it means, and it places us on the margins of the main discourse.” (Jeanne de Montbaston/Lucy Allen). For all its supposed isolation out there beyond the pale of acceptable discourse — marginal words in the mouths of marginal people — we know a good deal about slang. We know its lexis, and keep chasing down the new arrivals; we know its lexicographers, some very well; we know its speakers, and note that far from monosyllabic illiterates, they coin some of the most inventive usages currently on offer. We knows its preoccupations and that as a vocabulary it shows us not how we might like to be, but how we are: at our most human. And above all, we know that it’s made and used by men. At which, might I suggest a pause. What happened to the women? We know about women in slang: there isn’t even the usual sexist dichotomy, plenty. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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