Slang has been getting a bum rap, accused of cheapening the language, since before the earliest known slang dictionary, the 1699 Dictionary of the Canting Crew, a guide to the street talk of professional rogues. We know the Greeks and Romans used slang. It serves important sociological functions, bonding groups as disparate as bird-watchers, boys at Eton, prisoners, soldiers and (of course) teenagers, while excluding others. "My response to people saying slang destroys the language is: bollocks," says Green. "You always see the same themes: drugs, drink, sex, parts of the body and what people do with them, being nasty to each other, racist stuff. It doesn't do compassion very well. But slang is lively, exciting and very creative."
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