Among the sub-neutral words the following groups are distinguished:
a)words used in informal speech only - the colloquial words; b)jargon words and slang, as well as individual creations (nonce- words); c)vulgar words.
The first group lies nearest to neutral words. In their use there is no special stylistic intention whatever on the part of the speaker. The words of the second group have been created, so to speak, on purpose with a view to intentional stylistic degradation. The lowest place is taken by vulgarisms, i.e. words which due to their indecency are scarcely admissible in a civilized community.
Colloquial words. They are words with a tinge of familiarity or inofficiality about them. There is nothing ethically improper in their stylistic coloring, except that they cannot be used in official forms of speech. To colloquialisms may be referred:
a)colloquial words proper (colloquial substitutes of neutral words), e.g., chap; b)phonetic variants of neutral words: baccy (tobacco), fella (fellow); c)diminutives of neutral words: daddy, piggy, as well as diminutives of proper names - Bobby, Becky, Johny; d)words the primary meaning of which refer them to neutral sphere while the figurative meaning places them outside the neutral sphere, making them lightly colloquial. E.g., spoon as a colloquial word means «a man with a low mentality». e)most interjections belong to the colloquial sphere: gee! Er? Well,etc.
Jargon words. Jargon words appear in professional or social groups for the purpose of replacing those words which already exist in the language.
Jargon words can be subdivided into two groups: professional jargonisms and social jargonisms. The first group consists of denominations of things, phenomena and process characteristic of the given profession opposed to the official terms of this professional sphere.Thus, professional jargonisms are unofficial substitutes of professional terms'. They are used by representatives of the profession to facilitate the communication.
The group of social jargonisms is made up of words used to denote non-professional thing relevant for representatives of the given social group with common interests (e.g., music fans, drug-addicts and the like). Such words are used by representatives of the given group to show that the speaker also belongs to it (I- also-belong-to-the-group function). Very often they are used for the purpose of making speech incoherent to outsiders. When used outside the group in which they were created, such words impart expressiveness to speech. In literary works jargonisms indicate to the fact that the speaker belongs to a certain professional or social group.
Very close to jargon is cant.
Cant is a secret lingo of the underworld - of criminals. The only primary reason why it appeared is striving to secrecy, to making speech incomprehensible to outsiders. It also serves as a sign of recognition.
It is noteworthy that when jargon words and cant are used in literary works they are employed to show that the character belongs to a certain professional or social or criminal group (the function of characterization).
Slang. Slang is the part of the vocabulary made by commonly understood and widely used words and expressions of humorous kind -intentional substitutes of neutral and elevated words and expressions. The psychological source of its appearance and existence is striving for novelty in expression. Many words and expressions now referred to slang originally appeared in narrow professional groups; since they have gained wide currency, they must be considered as belonging to slang.
In creation of slang various figures of speech take part: the upper storey (head) - metaphor;
skirt (girl) - metonymy;
killing (astonishing) - hyperbole; whistle (flute) - understatement; clear as mud - irony.
In slang we find expressions borrowed from written speech (e.g., «yours truly» used instead of the pronoun «I»). Some slang words are just distortions of literary words: cripes (instead of Christ). Sometimes slang words are just invented: shinanigan (trifles, nonsense).
Nonce-words are defined as chance words, words created for the given occasion by analogy with the existing words by means of affixation, composition, conversion, etc. E.g., «There was a balconyful of gentlemen...» (the word balconyful was coined by analogy with the words «mouthful», «spoonful», «handful»). Being nonexistent, unknown, yet comprehensible in the given situation, such words produce humorous effect. Being used just once, they disappear completely.
Vulgar words. This is a stylistically lowest group of words which are considered offensive for polite usage. They may be subdivided into two groups: lexical vulgarisms and stylistic vulgarisms.
To the first group belong words expressing ideas considered unmentionable in a civilized society. It is, so to speak, the very lexical meaning of such words which is vulgar.
The second group - stylistic vulgarisms - are words the lexical meanings of which have nothing indecent or improper about them. Their impropriety in civilized life is due solely to their stylistic value - to stylistic connotation expressing derogatory attitude of the speaker towards the object of speech.
In real life vulgar words help to express emotions, emotive and expressive assessment of the object spoken about. When used in works of literature they perform the function of characterization.
If used too frequently, vulgar words loose their emotional quality and become mere expletives (e.g., «You are so darn good-looking»).
Against the background of the literary language dialect words as dialect peculiarities of speech are stylistically relevant. They show the social standing of the speaker. Nowadays it is only in the speech of the people deprived of proper school education forms of speech are signs of
On the whole dialects differ from the literary language most ot all in the sphere of phonetics and vocabulary.
Of special significance for English literature is the so-called Cockney - the dialect of the uneducated people in London. The characteristic features of the Cockney pronunciation are as follows: " a) the diphthong [ei] is replaced by [ai]: to sy, to py instead of «to say», «to pay»;
b)the diphthong [au] is replaced by monophthong [a:]: nah then instead of «now then»; c)words like «manners», «thank you» are pronounced as manners, thenk you;
the suffix «-ing» is pronounced as [n]: sittin', standin'