CALL FOR CHAPTERS (ENGLISH)
CODED FORMS, SYMBOLS AND CIPHERS: A SOCIOLINGUISTIC GUIDE FOR SECRET LANGUAGES
It is agreed that each language is rich in coded forms or secret codes that a given group of people tends to share for several social and linguistic reasons. Although investigating the topic of secret languages is regarded as an unsearchable issue by linguists due to its marginality and belonging to the field of linguistic taboos in particular, it has received a considerable attention in the last few decades due to changes at the phonological, semantic and sociolinguistic levels of some languages and dialects. These changes need to be explored from a scientific point of view and how they can affect the social and cultural components of some societies.
The focal aim behind the use of coded forms, by a group of people such as adolescents, girls, criminals, soldiers and drug dealers, is to make their speech unintelligible to the whole community. The coded forms, selected by the groups, are employed to mark the identity of their speakers. Thereby, secret languages or group forms can be divided into three essential types mainly argot, occupational language and slang. The argot or what is known between sociolinguists as the language of thieves because it was employed by gangs or the criminal community, although “its use is not restricted to thieves” (Kunihiro, Inoue & Long, 1999, p. 280). During the 17th and 18th century, thieves had created coded forms to protect themselves in London. Among the famous gangs’ secret forms, there is Cant. Therefore, linguists tried to study these forms and create dictionaries that can help police in understanding these groups. However, the term argot has been also employed to describe the doctors’ coded terms in Europe, who tend to utilize Latin to describe their patients (Kunihiro, Inoue & Long, 1999, p. 280). On the other side of the corner, an occupational language is different from the argot, even although there are some shared similarities between them. In an occupational language, the speakers borrow terms from other languages and resort to shorten them; henceforth, “new meanings are added to existing ones, leading to words which are not understood by those outside the group” (Kunihiro, Inoue & Long, 1999,p. 280).
Slang is another type of secret coded languages. In this vein, Spolsky (2004) maintains that “slang is a kind of jargon marked by its rejection of formal rules, its comparative freshness and its common ephemerality, and its marked use to claim solidarity” (p. 35). Unlike argot and occupational languages, slang is found among young people like teens who tend to hide their secret things from their parents or teachers. This is obvious in the coded forms developed through the help of social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Teens have created coded forms through the use of symbols and numbers to keep them out of their parents’ vision and prove their belonging to a specific group of people. Another difference between slang and the previous forms is that the former is specific to a group of people in a given period of time, i.e., it is subject to change since “its function is to add freshness to conversation, must be changed before it becomes old” (Kunihiro, Inoue & Long, 1999, p. 281).
Slang use can be also found in text messaging of many people in nowadays. According to some researchers like Ihnatko (1997), texting or textism has become a phenomenon between teens and children. In his part, Ihnatko (1997) reveals that the use of these coded forms can result in low writing production and performance of their language. Although the subject is of indelible importance, few research works have been conducted on the attitudes of both teens and children on the use of such coded forms.
Most importantly, the usage of slang has become a linguistic marker of some sub-groups like teens who prefer to have a shared social identity in their verbal communication. This is apparent in their messages through mobile phones and social media as it has already been explained. This is also similar to groups of drug dealers or criminals who tend to create their groups and develop certain codes to keep them hidden from justice.
Arabic language is another case like many languages. Indeed, the use of slang has a pertinent place in Arabic dialects due to the impact of other languages mainly English, French and Spanish. As such, several slangs have emerged and deployed by people from different social and educational backgrounds or ages. This means that there are basic features that cannot be ignored in exploring the existence and use of slangs including “context of situation and context of culture” (El Falaky, 2016, p. 76).
This suggested collection endeavours to deepen the investigation of secret coded languages and their impacts on the standard forms. It also attempts to provide an insight on these existing forms from a sociolinguistic point of view. It also seeks to give an in-depth look on the different types of these secret forms mainly slang and its use by teens, criminals, drug dealers and how they impact the social and psychological states of youngsters in particular. The editors invite original contributions from sociolinguists and sociologists around the globe to share their research works and scholarly contributions on the new linguistic phenomena that characterize daily speech and written forms of teens i.e., an investigation of the linguistic features, the social and psychological motives behind the dawn of such expressions and their social and linguistic impacts .
Topics to be included (but are not limited to):
- Language change and social variation in teens language
- Age, gender and generation-specific use of language
- The nature of slang for linguists: Written, spoken and innovative
- The morphological and grammatical properties of slang
- The impact of technology on youth culture, identity and language use
- Social media, slang and its impact on students’ writing production
- Technology and text lingo ‘txt spk’
- Teens drug slang: A sociolinguistic investigation
- Drug terminology: A sociological and linguistic study
- The social and psychological motives behind the use of coded forms and their impact
- The attitudes of teens towards coded forms in text messaging
- The secret language of crime
- Cryptology: A glimpse on the science of secret codes and ciphers