Words about Words

“From colonial times Americans have cobbled a vernacular language that…multiplies the world through a kaleidoscope of meaning. It belongs to the underworld, the streets, the back room, the geeky realms of the digital frontier, where englihtenment requires its own lingo. Walt Whitman celebrated slang as ‘the lawless germinal element…behind all poetry,’ and sought to celebrate, in contrast to the formal language of England, the ‘real genius underneath our speech, which is not what the school men suppose, but wild, intractable, suggestive.'”

-John Leland, Hip: The History

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