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THE YALE LITERARY MAGAZINE.-Conducted by the Students of Yale University. This Magazine established February, 1836, is the oldest col. lege periodical in America ; entering upon its Fifty-ninth Volume with the number for October, 1893. It is published by a board of Editors, annu. ally chosen from each successive Senior Class. It thus may be fairly said to represent in its general articles the average literary culture of the university. In the Notabilia college topics are thoroughly discussed, and in the Memor. abilia it is intended to make a complete record of the current events of college life; while in the Book Notices and Editors' Table, contemporary publications and exchanges receive careful attention.
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SOME REMARKS ON COLLEGE SLANG. . MR
R. BRANDER MATTHEWS in a magazine article
some time ago, discoursed in charming fashion on the importance of slang in the growth of language. He proved to the precise and spectacled enemies of picturesque phraseology that many English words in good and regular standing were once graceless vagabonds in the doubtful realm of “slangology.” The English tongue gathers in from all sources whatsoever it finds strength and utility in, and this assimilation and legalizing of slang is going on constantly. There is no need of going back into musty days of yore to prove the soundness of this law. We have seen phrases and words evolve from shady reputation to respectability such as “ dude," "boomer"
and “mugwump” which now may lay claim to a right in the dictionary.
Slang must be vivid and suggestive, or it soon goes under, for the law of the “survival of the fittest” works un failingly. Slang is the superlative richness of metaphor and, disregarding college slang, is usually self-explanatory. I am now speaking of the popular slang—the pithy charac.
terizations of Bret Harte's Westerners, or the apt and ready phrases which often sweep the country. They picture in the most direct way what they express, where more classic phrase would be lame and weak. A popular “slangism” can generally be traced to its origin, while many jewels of college idiom are dug from mysterious mines, and their reasons for being are hidden in obscurity. This is an interesting distinction for the investigator.
Popular phrases, by which I mean those not distinctly academic, may be quoted at random to show the philosophy of their existence. To say that “there are no flies on" a man is a compliment which he can readily see the force of. He is not likely to be caught napping, is keen, quickwitted and energetic. To remark that a friend has “slipped his trolley," conveys a world of meaning as to the unfortunate result of his project or calculation. I may say that T. Willie Brown has been acting rather strangely of late and I fear his mind is slightly unbalanced; but this has not half the vigor and meaning of my inference that “ he has wheels in his head” or is “touched in his top story."
Probably the currency of the realm, and the state in. duced by over-indulgence in intoxicants are the richest fields for the artist in picturesque phrasing. The average young man of the period seldom refers to money. He will call it almost anything else in the world. “Tin," “shekels," and "lucre," are rather antiquated, and now one speaks of his “roll,” the “long green," or “the stuff.” In the absence of this desirable factor of happiness, the young man is “strapped,” or “walking on his uppers,"
” or “dead broke.” The language of alcoholic exhilaration is rich and flowery. The subject is treated in a style the height of euphemism. The unfortunate one is " loaded," is “two sheets in the wind," is “under the weather," or “the worse for wear,” or “has an edge on.” A more pronounced degree is signified by the terms, “paralyzed," or “dead to the world." It would be easy to fill many pages with the slang used in the ordinary conversation of the educated young man, and I grieve to say it, sometimes