Jonathon Green and Julie Coleman discuss the future of the history of slang

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Nov 12, 2011
from 06:00 PM to 07:00 PM


Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, Fielding Johnson Building South Wing

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0116 252 2320

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2010 saw the publication of Green’s Dictionary of Slang, a historical account of the history of slang around the English-speaking world. This event brings together the world’s leading slang lexicographer and the world’s foremost expert on slang lexicography. In 1567, Thomas Harman’s Caveat or Warning to Common Cursitors revealed the secret language used by beggars in tricking honest citizens out of their hard-won cash.

Eighteenth-century slang dictionaries concentrated on the language of highwaymen and thieves. By the nineteenth century, lexicographers of slang were interested in the language of London’s poor. Groups whose slang has received attention in the United States include drug-users, the beats, jazz-musicians, and gang members. Through the centuries, slang dictionaries have engulfed the words collected by previous lexicographers, but also revealed the social anxieties of their time and place.

Julie Coleman is Professor of English Language at the University of Leicester. Her four-volume History of Cant and Slang Dictionaries (2004-2010) traces the expansion of the slang dictionary tradition with reference to its socio-historical context. She has recently completed A History of Slang for Oxford University Press.

Jonathon Green is the UK’s leading lexicographer of slang and as such one of the English-speaking world’s slang experts. His Contemporary Dictionary of Slang (1984), with three revised editions to 1995, grew into the Cassell Dictionary of Slang (1998, 2005), and the Chambers Slang Dictionary (2008). The three volumes of Green’s Dictionary of Slang (2010) list some 110,000 slang words and phrases, supported by around 415,000 citations. Other publications include Slang Down the Ages (1993), Chasing the Sun: Dictionary-Makers and the Dictionaries they Made (1996). Green is a regular broadcaster and lecturer on slang.


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