American slang - статья на английском языке

American slang, as used in the title of this dictionary, is the body of words and expressions frequently used by or intelligible to a rather large portion of the general American public, but not accepted as good, formal usage by the majority. No word can be called slang simply because of its etymological history; its source, its spelling, and its meaning in a larger sense do not make it slang. Slang is best defined by a dictionary that points out who uses slang and what "flavor" it conveys. <...>
The English language has several levels of vocabulary: Standard usage comprises those words and expressions used, understood, and accepted by a majority of our citizens under any circumstances or degree of formality. Such words are well defined and their most accepted spelling and pronunciations are given in our standard dictionaries. In standard speech one might say: Sir, you speak English well. Colloquialisms are familiar words and idioms used in informal speech and writing, but not considered explicit or formal enough for polite conversation or business correspondence. Unlike slang, however, colloquialisms are used and understood by nearly everyone in the United States. The use of slang conveys the suggestion that the speaker and the listener enjoy a special "fraternity", but the use of colloquialisms emphasizes only the informality and familiarity of a general social situation. Almost all idiomatic expressions, for example, could be labeled colloquial. Colloquially, one might say: Friend, you talk plain and hit the nail right on the head.
Dialects are words, idioms, pronunciations, and speech habits peculiar to specific geographical locations. A dialecticism is a regionalism or localism. In popular use "dialect" has come to mean the words, foreign accents, or speech patterns associated with any ethnic group. In Southern dialect one might say: Cousin, у'all talk mighty fine. In ethnic-immigrant "dialects" one might say: Paisano, you speak good the English, or Landsman, your English is plenty all right already.
Cant, jargon and argot are the words and expressions peculiar to special segments of the population. Cant is the conversational, familiar idiom used and generally understood only by members of a specific occupation, trade, profession, sect, age group, class, interest group, or other sub-group of our culture. Jargon is the technical or even secret vocabulary of such a sub-group; jargon is "shop talk". Argot is both the cant and the jargon of any professional criminal group. In such usages one might say, respectively: <...> the tone of your transmission is good; You are free of anxieties related to interpersonal communication; or Duchess, let's have a bowl of chalk. Slang is generally defined above. In slang one might say: Buster, your line is the cat's pajames, or Doll, you come on with the straight jazz, real cool like.
Each of these levels of language, save standard usage, is more common in speech than in writing, and slang as a whole is no exception. Thus, very few slang words and expressions <...> appear in standard dictionaries.
American slang tries for a quick, personal mode of speech. It comes mostly from cant, jargon, and argot words and expressions whose popularity has increased until a large number of the general public uses or understands them. Much of this slang retains a basic characteristic of its origin: it is fully intelligible only to initiates.
(From "Preface" by S. Flexner. Dictionary of American slang)