Argot Expressions

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Argot Expressions


words and expressions of conversational speech that are borrowed from various social and occupational dialects.

In a semantically transformed way, argot expressions are used in vulgar speech and slang, preserving in them a bright, expressive coloring. In literary language, argot expressions are used as a means of stylistic characterization, primarily in the speech of characters but also in the author’s language in narrative storytelling. The use of argot expressions in Russian literature of the 19th and early 20th centuries was strictly ethnographic in character—for example, V. V. Kre-stovskii, N. G. Pomialovskii, F. M. Dostoevsky, and V. A. Giliarovskii. In the 1920’s and 1930’s argot expressions were used by authors writing in an intentional vulgarized, low-speech style—for example, I. Babel’ and M. Zoshchenko. Literary criticism of that period sometimes incorrectly evaluated argot expressions as a simple distortion and contamination of the literary language. In contemporary literature, argot expressions are used by writers and translators to reflect the realistic speech traits of characters as well as the vulgar or jargonistic spontaneity of their language. Argot expressions are widely used in contemporary Western literature, especially in the United States.


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Dauzat, A. Les argots. Paris, 1929.
Partridge, E. Dictionary of the Underworld: British and American. New York-London, 1950.
La Rue, J. Dictionnaire d’argot et des principales locutions populaire, précedé d’une histoire de I’argot. Paris, 1948.
Bertsch, A. Wörterbuch der Kunden- und Gaunersprache. Berlin, 1938.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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