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Friday, May 22, 2009

Watch your language! Are you loaded or shitfaced? Edumacated or frakked? A new book explores the poetic, ever-changing world of slang. By Stephanie

Slang is something most of us use every day without thinking, unless we avoid using it as a matter of principle -- which probably takes more conscious thought than using it does. "Slang is always with us," writes Michael Adams in his meticulous and shockingly readable "Slang: The People's Poetry." It is also, he concedes, a big subject, one that could probably fill twice the number of pages he uses (238, including footnotes and references).

That "Slang" is so slim, concise and lively is proof of Adams' commitment to the idea of language as something that's living, breathing and constantly changing. If you've even been trapped at a dinner party or a lecture (depending on the guests, sometimes they're indistinguishable), listening to an alleged person of letters use as many of them as possible to express how much he or she "loves words," you'll be grateful for Adams' concision. "Slang" is a gem that Adams has taken great care in cutting and polishing. Unlike so many academics -- Adams is an assistant professor of English at Indiana University -- he doesn't feel the need to give us the whole damn diamond mine.


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