Aspects of the production and use of slang in the Spanish of Barranquilla, Colombia
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The thesis presents a general analysis of the semantic processes involved in the production of slang in Barranquilla and of its use, particularly in relation to popular culture, socio-economic class and education. The relationship between slang and other areas of language is studied and the corpus presents 282 words and phrases accompanied by a detailed analysis of each item. Slang is a part of the vernacular, which is the most systematic area of language (cf, Labov) and due to its rapidly-changing nature, processes of semantic change which occur throughout the language can be seen in action in slang (cf, Bendezi Neyra, Guamieri, Hildebrandt, Jespersen, Niceforo, Trejo, etc.). The most important mechanism of slang production (66%) is found to be metaphor, which is analysed in detail as a dynamic process, and it is suggested that literal language and metaphor are two extremes of the same continuous process. Within metaphor, function is seen to be the most frequent motivation (64%), the expression of relations, activities and abstract concepts in concrete terms being one of the major uses of slang. Examination of this phenomenon shows the deficit theory (cf. Bernstein and, for general resumé, Dittmar) to be probably unjustified, Notwithstanding, a relationship between slang, socio-economic class and education is established in that working class people, with least formal education, are found to be the greatest producers and users of slang. As specifically vernacular lexicon, slang is an expression of the vernacular culture and its value systems. Relations between slang and culture are analysed on the level of individual items in the corpus and also in a more general and abstract sense in the way in which slang is seen to fulfil in urban society some of the functions of myth (cf. Levi-Strauss, Rosaldo). At the other end of the linguistic scale, comparison and contrast are also drawn between slang and poetry. Throughout the first nine chapters, detailed and numerical evidence is drawn from corpus. The corpus itself presents the meaning of each item, an example of its use, cross-references to many dictionaries in order to provide comparison with the standard and with other regional and non-standard varieties of Spanish, and analysis of the semantic process involved, its motivation, its effects, the reference of tenor and vehicle where applicable and the social distribution of the item. The appendix provides brief discussion of the influence of the mass media.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy