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Sounds & Furies: The Love-Hate Relationship between Women and Slang, from Billingsgate to Mumsnet

Jonathon Green

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Dialect, slang & jargon

Women as slang creators and users is perhaps the last, and very important, piece of the slang jigsaw. Women in slang is a pretty sorry story, but women and slang is an undiscovered territory, which this book explores, from female-dominated web sites such as Mumsnet to Chicago teenager Peaches Monroe and the coining of 'on fleek'.

We know all about women in slang, a pretty sorry story, but women and slang is an undiscovered territory. It is high time that omission was remedied. The book is comprehensively referenced, as befits a significant new work in a previously underexplored area, but it remains a very accessible read.

The development of such heroines as Buffy the Vampire Slayer have seen the emergence not only of a story-specific 'Buffyverse' but also of a slang to accompany it, the best-known example probably being the questioning use of 'much?'

Current technological developments, too, seem to have opened new possibilities. The world of social media, unfettered by traditional gatekeepers, has seemingly become a playground for female language users. Female-dominated web sites such as Mumsnet, for instance, have evolved their own non-standard vocabulary. And, with regard to the expression 'on fleek', we know that in June 2014 a Chicago teen, Peaches Monroe, posted a brief video online in which she described her newly beautified eyebrows as 'on flick', pronouncing it 'on fleek'. When the video went viral so too did her coinage. But it is a rare occurrence to be able to pinpint the genesis of slang in this way, and we have to accept it as such.

This is a book-length study of one of language's most intriguing, but previously unexplored questions: what is the relationship of women to slang? Do they use it, do they create it, and is 'female' slang different to the well-known 'male' version?

The relationship of women to slang has never been systematically explored. This book provides something entirely new, namely a work wholly devoted to girls' and women's uses of slang.

The role of girls and women in slang is well-known, strictly objectified: whore or mother, appendage or nag. Sounds and Furies aims to take a wholly new look. Slang expert Green takes us into uncharted territory, taking a view of slang that sets girls and women in the subject position, as language users and linguistic innovators.

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