Thesaurus of American Slang Hardcover – 22 Mar 1990
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
But: understanding the shade of meaning depends on me, the user. That information isn't given in the book. And, as another reviewer pointed out, neither the year of first use nor the origin of the slang term is given.
The index takes up about half of the total number of pages. It's difficult to move back and forth between the "dictionary" part of the book and the index part. Nevertheless, if I want a lot of slang synonyms for one term, I always check this book, mainly to get an overview.
But a THESAURUS of slang? And that's what this book is, a thesaurus, that overused word is NOT being used as a synonym for "dictionary". A thesaurus, to be specific, of the "dictionary" type, id est, NOT of the classic Roget classifying-logical kind, but of the headword kind, exempli gratia:
A small cheap restaurant, lunch room or diner
beanery, bean wagon, chili joint etc etc etc
What would you use this for? Slang doesn't work this way; it's not semantics, it's all social context. Le mot juste in slanguage isn't determined by meaning, it's determined by adamantine group acceptance. Maybe for writing novels? But Professor Chapman doesn't give us any context. Was this word used by black teenagers in Chicago in the Fifties, or by white housewives in LA in the Seventies, or high steelworkers in NYC in the Thirties, or what? I said, paraphrasing Dr. Johnson, that it's done well, but now I have second thoughts.
But Chapman is a good scholar, anyway. Buy his other books - if you're looking for coloratura in your own writings, this book will probably not be much practical help.
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