Слєпушова Ангеліна Ігорівна

студентка IV курсу, 

спеціальність «філологія (англійська мова і література)»

Київського університету імені Бориса Грінченка

Україна, м. Київ


  Анотація: Розглянуто поняття лексики зниженого регістру в англійській мові. Обгрунтовано використання грубо-просторічної та жаргонної лексики з метою створення гумористичного ефекту в американському мультсеріалі «Сімпсони».

  Ключові слова: colloquial, jargon, slang, vulgarism.

  Each society is divided into range of subgroups according to interests, professional affiliation, tastes, political points of view etc. Variety of such social groups leads to deviation from language standards and creation of so-called “micro languages” which are understandable only within these groups.

  The field of the use of such variants of vocabulary is a verbal communication in private life, at home, at work etc. The main function of it is to be a mean of influence and unconstrained conversation, lively interchange of opinions, emotions, judgements. It serves as an expressive mean of conveying speaker’s thoughts.

  The current interest of our study lies in the colloquial layer. Colloquialisms as a specific layer of language were researched by I. R. Galperin, I. V. Arnold, Y. M. Skrebnev, V. V. Vinogradov. These studies focus not only on the relations between social sphere and colloquial vocabulary but also investigate historical development of colloquialisms and their nature.

  V. D. Devkin in a preface to the German-Russian vocabulary gives such explanation of the term “colloquial”:

  “Colloquial is a traditional, conventional and collective name for something that is contrasted to a perfectly correct model of cultural standard. The departure from this standard can be of different measures  minimal (remains bookish character), marked (familiar words) and significant (vulgarisms). Colloquial vocabulary differs from neutral one for the reason that it has low character (in terms of ethic and aesthetic standards) and is used for unofficial conversation” [2, p. 12].

  According to professor Galperin the main feature of the colloquial layer of words “is its lively spoken character. It is this that makes it unstable, fleeting. The colloquial vocabulary falls into the following subgroups: 1. common colloquial words; 2. slang; 3. jargonisms; 4. professional words; 5. dialectal words; 6. vulgar words; 7. colloquial coinages” [1, р.66].

  An American animated sitcom ‘The Simpsons’ is a fertile ground for further research in the field of colloquial language. For almost twenty-seven years ‘The Simpsons’ has occupied a considerable layer in American pop-culture. Created by Matt Groening and produced by the Fox Broadcasting Company, it gained popularity all over the world. 

  The main characters are a satire of a working-class family, consisting of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie. Besides the fact that each resident of Springfield has his own pattern of behavior and a particular function, everyone has a special speaking style. Some speak with excellent English (Liza, Apu, Sideshow Bob) and some (Cletus or groundskeeper Willie) reveal gaps in their knowledge of English.

  Jargon refers to the specialized language used by people in a specific profession. In “The Simpsons” we can find a lot of examples of using jargonisms for creating humorous effect. Particularly, in the episode “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show” many business and buzzwords are satirized. Commenting on the idea of adding a third character to the show “Itchy & Scratchy”, one writer says: “I don’t want to sound pretentious here, but Itchy and Scratchy comprise a dramaturgical dyad”. Here we have the jargonism “dyad” meaning two individuals regarded as a pair. Another worker insist that adding a dog to the show is a good idea for rating:

  Network Exec: We at the network want a dog with attitude. He’s edgy; he’s “in your face”. You’ve heard the expression ‘let’s get busy’? Well, this is a dog who gets “biz-zay!”.Consistently and thoroughly.

  Krusty: So,he’s proactive, huh?

  Network Exec: Oh, God, yes. We’re talking about totally outrageous paradigm.

  Writer: Excuse me, but ‘proactive’ and ‘paradigm’? Aren’t these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important [backpedaling]. Not that I’m accusing you of anything like that. [pause] I’m fired, aren’t I?” [5, p.170].

  Here we have the sarcastic derision of such jargonisms as ‘proactive’ and ‘paradigm’. The humorous effect is created through emphasizing that people indeed use such words to sound more important.

  There are a lot of vulgarisms in “The Simpsons” as well. The word “vulgar”, as explained by the Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture, has two meanings: 

  a) “showing a lack of fine feeling or good judgment in the choice of what is suitable or beautiful”;

  b) “extremely rude or bad-mannered”[4]. 

  We, thus, arrive at the following definition: vulgarisms are words of non-standard English vocabulary that are used to upset, offend or anger people in an unpleasant way.

  In the second episode Bart disrespectfully calls his father an ape during their game in scramble:

  “Bart: Kwyjbo. Uh…a big, dumb, balding North American ape. With no chin.

  Marge: And a short temper.

  Homer: I’ll show you a big, dumb, balding ape!” [6].

  It underlines tense relationships between a father and a son. Bart always play tricks on Homer’s overblown body, absence of proper ethic manners, education, alcohol addiction. 

  Milhouse, a friend of Bart, in the episode “Bart the Genius”, where Bart cheats on an intelligence test and is declared a genius, says: “Get lost, Poindexter” [6]. In dictionary of slang we can find the following explanation of the word “Poindexter”: “one who looks and acts like a nerd but does not posses the super-natural intelligence of a nerd” [3]. In such a way Milhouse reveals Bart’s true colours: in fact Bart is truant and does not like studies at all.

  The characters of “The Simpsons” use a lot of colloquial expressions, particularly slang, jargon and vulgarisms. In this connection almost all citizens of Springfield have their own recognizable speech patterns. For instance, Willie has a Scottish accent, Ned Flanders adds diminutive suffixes "diddily," "doodily" to his speech, Bart Simpson uses a lot of vulgarisms etc.

  It enables us to draw a conclusion that the use of slang words, jargon and vulgarisms serves as a mean of depicting the Simpsons family as a satire of American society, religion, media, politics. In such a way Matt Groening, creator of the Simpsons, ridicules such notions as “American dream” and “ideal family”. Thus “The Simpsons” provides a rich text for the analysis of American culture. 



1. Гальперин И. Р. Очерки по стилистике английского языка / И. Р. Гальперин. — М.: Издательство литературы на иностранных языках, 1958. — 459 с.;

2. Девкин В. Д. Немецко-русский словарь разговорной лексики / В. Д. Девкин. — М.: Русский язык, 1994. — 768 с.; 

3. Dictionary of American Slang/ [compiled and edited by H. Wentworth and S. B. Flexner]. — 8th edition, — N.Y.: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1960.  — 669 p.;

4. Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture, 3rd revised edition. — Pearson ESL, 2000. — 1592 p.;

5. The Simpsons in the Classroom: Embiggening the Learning Experience with the Wisdom of Springfield/ K. Waltonen and D. D. Vernay. —  McFarland Co Inc, United States, 2010. — 340 p.;

6. The Simpsons, 1 season, 2th episode/ Bart the Genius. —  20th Television. — 1990.