Slang is a particular way of speaking, a variant of language usage, and a situation dependent communication code which is defined first of all by the attitude of the speaker or rather, the use of which is the expression of an attitude. In this definition the term “speech” figures prominently since the use of slang is mainly characteristic of verbal communication and is inextricably connected to the given speech situation. Here we can say that Slang as being a linguistic phenomenon is one of the most interesting and diverse parts of any language. It has the tendency of marking the conversation livelier, adding character to everyday conversation. It's likely that slang has been used all throughout history, Ancient Greek writers used it over 2,000 years ago; and even the famed Shakespeare went with slang in his plays!
Slang as it should be kept in mind fulfills at least two different functions. For the groups of people that usually use slang, it is a common way of setting set them apart, in order to express them in a separate and individual ways, and even sometimes to keep secrets from being known by others. However for the whole society in common and the development of the language, slang use for another role. As we take like an example language, at this case slang is like a linguistic laboratory, where new terms and forms can be tested out, applied to a variety of situations, and then united into the regular language.
It is an obvious fact that changing of the historical events of course influenced on the current development of the slang. Consequently changes in the vocabulary of specialized slangs words and expressions, for instance, only affect the small circle of its users. The novelty of slang terms is still appealing. It stems from an unconscious desire for novelty of expression. But there are also long- livers among slang words. Thus “bones” for “dice” was used by Chaucer in the 14th century, and it is still slang now. It is not typical and may be called unique. Looking back and analyzed the historical facts of slang research we can definitely see how the gradual change in the attitude of linguistic science towards the slang brought important changes in the way it is studied today.
Slang as it is true to a certain extent came in the spreading in early to mid-1800. It is commonly said that it started its life as a tongue of the street trader. According to some stories slang appeared in the market place in order to give the opportunity for vendors to communicate without the customers knowing what was being said — because you wouldn’t want your customers knowing that you were going to lower your prices in five minutes you could go home early. However it would be unfair no to mention that other stories claim that indeed slang came into the usage in the prisons so that inmates could talk without the guards listening in. Another point of view tells that the scientists consider slang to originate from the Standard English language itself. This kind of speech was considered to be a Standard English language and usually was used in teaching English in all parts of the world. Slang diffuses among social groups in the process of being used to manage the multiple, overlapping, and shifting identities of urban life a world of masks and mirrors. These special words, often ordinary words with special meanings, sometimes thus escape their little social circles or leak into one or more intersecting or tangential circles, where they are provisionally adopted. It is often said that many slang words and expressions deeply integrated into our language as being slang at all. To illustrate this point we may refer to the word “okay”. This word has an interesting origin. In the 1830’s young people made a tendency of misspelling words intentionally, then using a short hand. For example expression “Enough said” would be sounds like a “nuff said” or even “N.S.”, while the expression “all right” would be sounds like a “oll wright” or sometimes “O.W”. The adoption of subgroup talk often signals the acceptance of subgroup values, and this is sometimes the prelude to real social change, for good or bad. Because of wide spread occurrence of the music and the cinema in the in 1930-s, 40-s, 50-s the intensive export of words and word-expressions from America to Europe took place. During 60-s this process turned into many-sided phenomenon. Some of the words and expressions came into the everyday usage however the rest ones vanished into this air.
As generally known the origin of the word “slang” itself is unknown. However there are some theories which lead to the fact that the word “slang” has resemblance in sound and figurative meaning to the noun and verb “sling”. We shouldn’t neglect the fact that the occurrence of apparently the same root in Scandinavian expressions referring to language, suggest that the term “slang” is a development of a Germanic root from which the current English “sling” is derived. Another suppose tells us that “slang” was formed by shortening from genitive phrases beggars’ language or rogues’ language, where the genitive suffix of the first noun attaches to the initial syllable of language and then the final syllable is lost. A slang expression as it is said may suddenly become widely used and also quickly dies. It also may become accepted as standard speech, either in its original slang meaning possibly tamed meaning. In the 20th century, the influence of mass media speeded up as the circulation and the demise of slang terms. Thanks to television and novels development criminal cant turned into slang. Having read the article of the Swedish researchers on slang Anna-Brita Stenstrom “From slang to slanguage: a description based on teenage talk” I found out that one of the Swedish dictionaries consulted “Bonniers Stora Lexicon” maintains that the Swedish word slang comes from English slang, and that the origin is unknown. Consequently, word “slang” appeared in English language earlier than in the languages of Scandinavian countries. Another idea concerning with slang appearance claims that it is not English word indeed; it is the Gipsy term for their secret language. It would be interesting to mention that according to some philologists’ points of views it derived from French. Taking into consideration the idea presented by Swift “slang is as old as speech, and traces of this may be found as far as we can refer back”. Old English Slang was rude, and depended more upon downright vulgarity than our modern slang. Slang of those days was commonly termed like a “flash” language which represented both cant and slang. It is important to underline that the term “slang” was firstly recognized by Grose in 1785. A convincing argument was made by Winona Bullard an Italian researcher. She wrote that different dialects and pronunciations in the middle Ages represented the first meaning of the term “slang”. This standpoint was represented by certain writers such as Chauser, William Caxton and William of Malmesbury.
Current meaning of the slang conception started to form just in 16th or 17th century. The starting point of slang is considered to be English Criminal Cant. It was like a new direction of using the slang by criminals used by criminals gambling houses. It should be kept in mind that it was at first believed that English criminal cant originated in Romania or had occurred in France. However, slang was beginning to be presented in popular plays. The 1st significant appearance of the slang was in a play by Richard Brome’s and later it appeared in poems and songs by Copland. By the 1700’s the cultural differences in America had begun to influence the English-speaking population, and slang started to expand. During the 18th century slang was thought as incorrect usage of English and was considered forbidden. Eric Partridge in “Slang Today and Yesterday” notes that from about 1850’s, slang has been the accepted term for “illegitimate” colloquial speech. By the end of the twentieth century the rules of language usage had become more relaxed both in written texts and in the various modern forms of the media. However, the statement still holds true: the vocabulary of everyday usage is that part of spoken literary language that is least frequently recorded in writing. Moreover, slang tends to originate in subcultures within a society.
Slang, as we have mentioned before takes an essential place in all languages, occupying a middle ground between the standard and informal words and phrases. It can serve as a “bridge” or “a barrier”, helping as old and also new words and phrases that used like "insiders' " terms by a specific group of people by the reason of entering the language of the general public or, on the other hand, preventing them from doing so. The use of everyday spoken language, including slang, is generally characteristic of informal situations; just as formal use of language can be expected in official or formal social contexts. More slang can be heard during a friendly conversation than around the table at a formal dinner party, in a coach’s pep talk addressed to his team than in a eulogy speech. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that a new slang term is usually used in a subculture before it appears in the main culture. Such slang words for example "sucker," "honkey," "shave-tail," "jerk"-expresses the attitudes of one group or class toward the values of another. Slang, then, is produced largely by social forces rather than by an individual speaker or writer who, single-handed, creates and establishes a word in the language. This is one reason why it is difficult to determine the origin of slang terms.
To sum up, the theme should be investigated more carefully, because slang is changing rapidly. It is obvious that even existing researches are not enough in the sphere of slang investigation. Therefore, additional researches should be carried out. Today modern American slang has been shaped and reshaped by the different cultures and emergence of technology, which has left our society with varieties of slang from extremes like Street or Drug slang to African –American slang.