Resources for English slang
Thread poster: Neil Coffey

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:04
French to English
+ ...
Aug 15, 2013

I would be interested to hear people's recommendations for resources for honing translations of English slang, including for example:

- thesauruses with good coverage of slang terms;
- resources with information on the dates of usage of slang terms (obviously a Google ngram search can help with this, but a resource more specifically tailored to slang terms would be interesting).

So the scenario is e.g. you're translating a text with slang from (say) the early 1900s, you have found the meaning of the expressions in the source language, but want to get candidate English translations and check that they were actually used in English around the 1900s, and possibly check that at that time which circles they were used in (prison, military etc) as this can also change over time.

I'd be interested in particular in resources that are available to consult/purchase on line. Thanks for your suggestions!


[Edited at 2013-08-15 20:04 GMT]


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urbom
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:04
German to English
+ ...
a few suggestions Aug 16, 2013

For non-current slang, the most comprehensive, professionally compiled resource would be the three-volume Green's Dictionary of Slang: http://global.oup.com/academic/product/greens-dictionary-of-slang-9780550104403?cc=gb&lang=en&. A more affordable alternative, also compiled by Green, is Chambers Slang Dictionary. These are only available on paper, though, so searching for terms with particular meanings is difficult.

If you're after a specific term from a specific era, you might even try asking Jonathon Green himself on Twitter: @misterslang. He's been working on some fun online "timelines" for slang terms around concepts such as drunkenness and certain body parts, e.g. http://timeglider.com/t/69fe63cb1c99e772. See his Twitter timeline for more.

If you have a UK public library card (or know someone who'll give you their card number), you can use the OED online free of charge: http://www.oed.com/ The Advanced Search option lets you specify e.g. register, date and words in the definition.

There are specialised dictionaries of cant and slang, as well as specialised glossaries online, e.g. 18th Century and Regency Thieves' Cant, "Dictionary of [US] Navy Slang Compiled from Various Sources, etc.

Of course, any printed book on "current" slang is going to be out of date as soon as it comes out, so you're better off sticking to online sources for recent terms. Urban Dictionary (http://www.urbandictionary.com/ is crowdsourced, so don't abandon your critical faculties when using it.

I wouldn't forget about the option of doing your own research in contemporary sources - e.g. for 1970s London slang, you can pick up a 14-disc box set of The Sweeney online for under £30...

[Edited at 2013-08-16 05:41 GMT]


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Lindsay Cornley  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:04
Member (2006)
German to English
Try the works of Eric Partridge Aug 17, 2013

You could try the works of Eric Partridge; he was a leading authority on English slang and wrote very many books, (e.g. "A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English" published by Routledge, "A Dictionary of RAF Slang", etc.), with lots of fascinating origins, dates, etc. I have found one online, based on his work and latterly that of Paul Beale, there may well be more.

http://www.partridgeslangonline.com/Handler_Ebook.ashx?name=9780203380079.pdf

Hope that helps.

(I should perhaps mention that he was related to me!)


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urbom
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:04
German to English
+ ...
translators' thoughts Aug 19, 2013

Not a dictionary or glossary, but a dialogue between two prominent literary translators with some interesting comments on approaches to translating slang in literature:

"A Conversation with Translators Frank Wynne and Peter Bush"


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