If the question is posed as to whether “Slayer Slang: A ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Lexicon” by Michael Adams will introduce more fans of the late lamented cult television series to the study of philology or send more philologists to check out the series on DVD and/or in syndication, then I would have to cast my vote for the first option. Hopefully, fans will recognize that their enjoyment of slang on “BtVS” has always entailed an appreciation of the presentation and analysis of the peculiar use of language on the various episodes and related paperback novels, all of which are now rendered as “texts” in this academic endeavor by Adams. The first half of the volume presents what are essentially a series of essays. “Slayer Slang” looks at both the series as a phenomenon and the role that both slayer jargon (words peculiar to the occupation of being a slayer) and slayer slang (the pointed way in which Buffy and the Scoobies speak, with all their attendant pop culture references) in establishing the show’s successful slayer style. If you can follow how slayer jargon can turn into slayer slang, then you are holding your own on the academic side of the equation. But the success here is in the details, and when Adams explains how Faith’s idiosyncratic slang differs from Xander and the others most readers should be able to appreciate the analysis. “Making Slayer Slang” covers the attraction of prefixes and the happy endings provided by using suffixes, with Adams become absolutely wistful as he covers the impressive number of words contributed to the lexicon by using “-age” as a hyperactive suffix. I have to admit, I probably learned more about the parts of language from Adams’s analysis of shifty slang, what with nouns becoming adjectives and such, than I learned in school (I picked up the rules of grammar by osmosis, i.e., what is known in some circles as reading). But when he covers the mixed etymologies in slayer slang and deals with the mind boggling problem presented by “Edge Girl” in terms of being the product of so many current sense of “girl,” he is clearly reaching the limits of endurance for most readers. “Studying the Micro-histories of Words” starts off looking at what has been going on in popular culture in the real world to create such things as actuation, before going off into a wonderful look at all the baggage in American English carried by the name “Buffy.” Once again Adams launches into some philological pyrotechnics on lexical gaps, loose idioms, and folk etymologies before quickly ending this chapter as well. The final essay, “Ephemeral Language,” is where Adams will leave most “BtVS” fans in the dust as he looks at the significance of slayer slang in larger terms, namely what it tells us about the current state of the English language. The second half of the volume consists of a glossary, albeit one edited down from the massive collection of words and derived forms of words Adams originally compiled by October 2002. Still, hundreds of words from “activeness” (noun, Propensity to do [illicit] things) to “X-man” (n, Xander) are covered, included detailed looks at “Buffy,” “dust,” “much, “slaying,” “vamp,” and “wiggins,” not to mention myriad variations of each You may well wonder why Adams did not wait a few more months until “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” had finished production, but since he is also including the various novels and short stories that have been published about “BtVS” even that accommodation would not have provided a true sense of completeness since there is always another Nancy Holder or Mel Odom novel around the bend. Besides, Adams points out that if you happen to find your favorite item of slayer slang missing you can contact him to get the complete academic profile. I cannot imagine too many “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fans sitting down and reading “Slayer Slang” cover to cover. Instead I see them working their way through one of the essays, or a particular section, and flipping through the glossary to read about “smoochies,” “Exorcist twist,” or “five-by-five.” My best advice would be to read through an essay and when you find a part that you think is particularly interesting to go look at the extended examples in the glossary. I would not think it would be easy for most readers to do the reverse and work from a word in the glossary to the relevant philology point in an earlier essay. The bottom line is that fans of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” will find some serious intellectual weight to throw behind their love for the show after reading “Slayer Slang.”
I got this as a gift (thanks darling ::smooch!::) and came to buy another one for a fellow Buffyholic -- I saw that other review and wanted to say WTF? I didn't notice any serious errors and I have seen every episode multiple times, plus I've got all the script books. And as for words which aren't in the shows, the author points out that some of the words are from the comix, the novels, and the fan boards! There are lots more Buffy words here than just from the shows. This is the only book that takes Buffy language seriously--a must for any Buffy fan.
When you buy a book that is full of facts, you expect the author to get the facts right. Well this book was chock full of mistakes, from the names of episodes, to who said which quote, and which episode the quote was in etc.. It was nightmare trying to figure out what this guy was talking about with all his mistakes, I mean some of the slayer slang words he used were the wrong ones, and have never even exsisted, and examples he used for others didn't even come from the show. If you are a serious Buffy fan this book will bother you, so don't buy it.