Slang dictionaries: Useful or Outdated?

Published 5th April 2011
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Slang dictionaries: Useful or Outdated?

I remember when I was younger, if I read a book and came across I didn’t know, I would just look it up in the dictionary and find its definition. Easy. Not so much so, however, when I started reading authors who used slang. Of course, nowadays unfamiliar words are not that much of a problem. The internet means we can just google it and have an answer in seconds. But I still can’t help but think how useful it would have been to have a slang dictionary in the house.

Green’s Dictionary of Slang

There have been a few published, but none as comprehensive as Green’s Dictionary of Slang. The three-volume, 6000-page monster of a dictionary is the motherlode. Each entry explains the historical origins of the word or phrase, as well as its meaning. There are around 415,000 references given(!). The encyclopedia of Slang!

However interesting this book may seem, is it ill-advised to publish a work based on something which is in a constant state of flux? Slang is ever-changing and it may prove impossible to keep up with it. Anything written is likely to be outdated by the time of publication. Many slang resources, such as Urban Dictionary, are mainly online. Although Urban Dictionary has also published a book. It seems that Jonathon Green considered this option too – he plans to make his dictionary available online, so that it can be constantly updated and revised.

What do you think? Is it worth publishing works like this, or do you think it is better to keep them on-line? Personally, I quite like the idea of owning a slang dictionary, but would it ever be as current as an online resource?

Possibly the biggest surprise about the book is just how old some slang is. Many of their meanings have changed over the years. I think it is easy to dismiss slang as something which is never used for long, but in reality some of the slang we use today has been around since the middle ages!

Un diccionario de jerga

Recuerdo que cuando era más joven, si leyendo un libro me encontraba con alguna palabra que no conocía, la buscaba en el diccionario y encontraba su definición. Fácil. Sin embargo, la cosa se complicó un poco cuando empecé a leer autores que utilizan la jerga. Hoy en día, por supuesto, las palabras desconocidas no son un gran problema. Ya que buscando en google tienes una respuesta en cuestión de segundos. Pero aún así me pregunto lo útil que habría sido tener un diccionario de jerga en casa.

Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Se han publicado unos cuantos, pero ninguno tan completo como el Green’s Dictionary of Slang. Del escritor británico Jonathon Green. Este monstruo de tres volúmenes y 6.000 páginas es el motherlode. Cada entrada explica el orígen histórico de la palabra o frase, así como su significado. Hay alrededor de 415.000 referencias (!).

Sin embargo, por muy interesante que este libro pueda parecer, publicar un trabajo sobre algo que se encuentra en constante cambio es poco aconsejable. La jerga es siempre cambiante y puede resultar imposible mantenerse al día. Todo lo que se escribe seguramente quede obsoleto llegado el momento de su publicación. Muchas fuentes relativas al argot, como Urban Dictionary, se publican principalmente en línea.
Aunque Urban Dictionary también está editado en libro. Parece que Green está considerando también esta opción – publicar su diccionario en línea, de modo que pueda ser actualizado y revisado constantemente.

¿Tú qué piensas? ¿Merece la pena publicar obras de este tipo, o crees que es mejor mantenerlas en línea? Personalmente, me gusta bastante la idea de tener un diccionario de jerga, pero ¿estaría tan actualizdo como un recurso en línea?

Probablemente la mayor sorpresa sobre el libro sea decubrir lo viejo que es el argot. Aunque muchos significados han cambiado con los años. Creo que es fácil definir la jerga como algo temporal, pero también es cierto que algunas jergas utilizadas hoy en día ha existido desde la Edad Media.

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