This course aims to give students insight into an important aspect of the role of language in society. In this course we approach this topic through sociolinguistic issues such as language in relation to individual and group identity, language and power, language in the media, jargon and metaphor, and notions of social marginality and deviance. We also examine the close links between jargon and slang, and look at the relationship in terms of language change. Through the study of language and jargon we can gain an understanding of the fundamental role language plays in the everyday social world.




Students learn how to plan and implement an innovative research project or essay, and how to analyze jargon data in terms of sociolinguistic issues such as language change and language and identity, as well as in terms of metaphorical and other meanings. While the course offers an academic introduction to issues in the study of jargon it must be emphasized that this is primarily a research course. Students must produce advanced quality research work which shows the ability to collect, organize and analyze linguistic data in the light of sociolinguistic theory, or to produce an essay which draws on aspects of the theory of jargon or the history of jargon studies.




Students attend a two-hour weekly lecture-workshop session. The third hour will be used as necessary for Q & A or consultations. In addition, students will be offered individual or group consultation times to help them with their project design and implementation, or their essay planning. Teaching arrangements will be finalized once the number of students registered is known.




This course is assessed by 100% coursework. The primary requirements a mid-term research proposal or essay plan, with application for ethical clearance where appropriate (25%), and a final project or research essay (75%). The research project should involve the collection and analysis of original data, from interviews, on-line sources, popular culture, published and unpublished material, etc. A research essay involves the in-depth investigation into the history of a particular jargon or a particular tradition of jargon research. Research projects may be done singly or in groups of up to three, whereas the research essay must be an individual piece of work.




There is no textbook. Students will be given extensive handouts and notes to assist them in their studies. Readings are available from on-line journals such as American Speech, Journal of Sociolinguistics and Language in Society.
Selected works

Burke, David (1993). Biz talk 1: American business slang & jargon. Los Angeles: Optima Books. R 650.03 B95.

Burke, Peter and Roy Porter (1995). Languages and jargons. London: Polity.

Green, Jonathon Newspeak : a dictionary of jargon. London : Routledge & Kegan Paul. R 427.09 G79

Green, Jonathon (1987). Dictionary of jargon. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. R 427.09 G79 d

Johnson, Michael (1990). Business buzzwords : the tough new jargon of modern business. Oxford: Blackwell. R 650.014 J6

Partridge, Eric (1949) A dictionary of the underworld: British & American; being the vocabularies of crooks, criminals, racketeers, beggars and tramps, convicts, the commercial underworld , the drug traffic, the white slave traffic, spivs. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. R 427.09 P27 di.



Last updated: 18 July 2017