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Perhaps the best general definition at which one can arrive is that " slang " is a conventional tongue with many dialects, which are as a rule unintelligible to outsiders. But here, in the heart as well as at the extremities of "Anglo- Saxony," new needs and new circumstances are being developed unceasingly, and society both high and low, in every walk of life, and on Ijypaths of art and trade, has of late years taken to inventing n^w words and phrases, some for practical wants, others for amuse- ment, some coarse and rude, others daint Uy cut and polished, deftly veiled — all in such profusion, that every one of the old definitions of slang is now inadequate to express the " new departure " phase of the language.Thus in cricket " wickets " is technical, but "sticks" is slang ; to put a "break" on a ball the former, to put " stuff " on it the latter." Bone shaker," the old type of bicycle, is slang ; but "kangaroo," the latest improvement on the spider bicycle, and which in shape somewhat resembles the primitive "bone shaker," belongs to the technical phraseology of 'cycle machinists. It is worthy of notice, let it be said en passant, that the two nations at the head of the intellectual movement, England and France, have the most extensive slang vocabulary, the two being about on a par in that respect. Many, not without good excuse, find it very difficult to distinguish between technical terms not as yet recognised by lexicographers, and those which are, to all intents and purpose, firmly established.for which is perhaps that it proceeds from dialects but little known, as for instance Romany, or from Celtic and Anglo-Saxon words no longer used as language-words and known only to a few scholars.Cant possesses but few original terms coined in a direct manner by those who employ the vocabulary, for it needs greater imaginative powers than these light-fingered professors are generally credited with to invent terms that shall remain and form part of a language.

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The reader will probably best understand what is meant if he wi U, for the sake of argument, suppose the modern English language to have become a dead language known only to scholars.It sometimes occurs that a technical word comes to be used figura- tively in an humorous and sarcastic sense.Sailors talk slang when they say of a drunken man that his " mainbrace is well spliced," or that he is " two sheets in the wind." Occasionally a class slang word is adopted by the public, and swells the vocabulary of general or " society " slang.But this increase has been so enormous and so rapid that no standard lexicographer could do it justice.It is generally admitted that to keep pace with modern French journalism or novels, a " Dictionnaire d' Argot " is absolutely indispensable, and this is now quite as much the case with English.

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