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Dedicated to pleasure, uninhibited, promiscuous — c. Individuals dedicated to pleasure are likely to associate with those occupied in providing it, which explains the development of sense 4c. In the early twentieth century, male prostitutes could be described as gay with reference to their sexuality 4d and their profession 4c , as well as, perhaps, their behaviour 4b and clothes 2b.

Often the difference between slang and standard senses will be fairly small. Standard meanings are sometimes entirely reversed in slang usage. Nasty — , bad — , mean — , and ill — are examples of negative terms that have been used to express enthusiastic approval. If speakers of Standard English disapprove, the slang-user will approve. If the slang-user approves, speakers of Standard English will disapprove. Sometimes a change in the meaning of one word will produce changes in the meaning of associated terms.

Spawning 33 Slang created by changes in function Slang words sometimes arise from Standard English words used not in a new sense, but with a different grammatical function. When this assumption is mistaken, new words can be created by a process called back-formation. Pea — arose from the assumption that the earlier form, pease OE—, still found in titles of dishes, like pease pudding , was always plural.

Words can also be generated from proper nouns: from the names of people and places. Brand names are also sometimes used as words in their own right. Hoover, established as a proprietary name in , has long been used to refer to vacuum cleaners generically. Spawning 35 Slang created by changes in form Standard English words can also be combined in irreverent and humorous ways to create slang synonyms.

For example, the head has been described as the knowledge box — , the mouth as the cake-hole — , and a moustache as a soup-strainer —. It is not uncommon for slang compounds and phrases to incorporate jokes and gratuitous insults. For instance, Dutch oven was used to refer to the mouth because Dutch people were stereotypically considered to be greedy eaters. These terms assume a perspective shared between the speaker and listener.

Occasionally, combining forms will take on a special meaning in slang words. The combining form -ati, modelled after literati, is currently popular in the media. Slang created by abbreviation Slang terms can also arise from various types of abbreviation of Standard English terms. These forms could be abbreviations of legendary or derived from the noun This party is a leg end or interjection Great party.

Leg end! As these examples show, Standard English words can also be produced in both ways. Spawning 39 word that can be either an initialism or an acronym. Short for laugh- ing out loud, it originated in online communication but is now also used in speech, both as an initialism spelt out and as an acronym rhyming with doll. Initialisms are pretty easy to spot, in speech at least, but some slang etymologists have a tendency to see acronyms where none exist.

Even before we start looking at the evidence, we would have to be wary of an acronym dating from before WWII and having nothing to do with WWI, because the earliest acronyms tended to originate in military contexts. Similarly unconvincing etymologies have been presented, sometimes sincerely, for fuck filed under carnal knowledge; fornicate under consent of the king , swag stuff we all get , and gay good as you; good at yoga; got aids yet , among others.

Sometimes called bacronyms, these reverse acronyms are often intended to be humorous. This only works in written communication, but it can sometimes lead to changes in pronunciation when speakers wish to distinguish between two uses of a word. In its simplest form, this typographical variation involves the insertion of a symbol to represent a sound e.

Rap artists often use respellings such as -a for -er e. Sometimes the respelling does indicate a change in pronunciation. B: Innit! Sometimes a slang term has no clear relationship to, or only a fancied relationship with, existing Standard English words, and what often comes into operation here is a process already touched on, called folk etymology. Usually folk etymology is a more or less subconscious process: correct and incorrect etymol- ogies can coexist perfectly happily, but sometimes misunderstandings about the origins of a word can cause changes in meaning.

What a gwaan? My students mostly white commonly record it as wagwan and sometimes abbreviate it to wag, leaving open the possi- bility that later users will develop theories about how this word can have developed from the verb wag.

Be particularly wary of good stories. Before they learnt to read, my two sons often produced folk-etymological forms, including cheekmonk for chipmunk, used to describe someone with too much food in their mouth , hand-burger, and noodle in a haystack. These are the product of analytical thought about the origins and meanings of words, and the fact that they were produced by preschool children indicates how fundamental this desire to analyse meaning is.

Words that sound like tabooed words sometimes fall from use altogether instead of changing in meaning. The principal prick is her rich, insensitive husband. The failure to avoid words mistakenly associated with tabooed terms can have dire consequence. Urban Dictionary records almost words and phrases containing uber, although variable spelling contributes to a great deal of repetition.

American soldiers have also introduced slang terms from other languages. Slang from sound Most slang comes from adapting the use or form of existing words, but slang also creates entirely new words. Imitative also called echoic and onomatopoeic words often remain informal and sometimes humorous, even when they are widely used as direct representations of sounds like clink c. But where does slang come from? It should be clear that none of these types of etymology is exclusive to slang.

Standard English and slang both borrow words from other languages, reuse existing words with new grammatical functions or with slightly different meanings, abbreviate words, and produce blends, acronyms, and initialisms. There are also onomatopoeic terms in Standard English. The best known is rhyming slang, a form of wordplay originating in mid nineteenth-century London, in which standard and sometimes slang words are replaced by a rhyming phrase.

Rhyming slang appears to have enjoyed some limited use among American criminals between the wars, but it remains reasonably productive in Britain, Australia, and New Zeal- and. Far more slang than standard words are produced by abbreviation of various sorts, by blending, and by word- play such as onomatopoeia and rhyming slang. Adams, Slang, 82, , , talks in more detail about -iz n -, -izzle, and -age. If those habitats have things in common, we can use them to identify the conditions that are most conducive to new words becoming slang.

Inventing new terms is certainly a creative act, but it takes more than innovative creativity to qualify a term as slang. No matter how creative an individual is, no matter how many words they create, and no matter how good those words are, they will only ever be witticisms unless other people start using them.

Where all individuality is stripped away by uni- forms, regulation haircuts, and the necessity of obeying orders with- out question, the desire to identify oneself as a separate human being becomes problematic. In each case, there are several contemporary dictionaries of their slang. These terms allowed conscripted servicemen to grumble about food, equip- ment, and those in authority over them. They also offered the oppor- tunity to use humour to enliven the dull routine of daily life.

This illustrates the second condition conducive to slang development: slang speakers will usually be situated on the lower rungs of a hierar- chy. The third factor is that there must be a sense of group identity. Living under shared circumstances of inferi- ority and uniformity, individuals will use slang among themselves to heighten their sense of solidarity. Failure to use the correct jargon brings your expertise into question. Alluding to outer symbols of rank in this way asserts that they are only empty symbols: that all men are equal under their uniforms.

Oppressed groups at the bottom of hierarchies are denied their individuality in many settings, but the conditions for slang development are best where individuals collectively resist the forces acting upon them by means short of physical violence. In contrast, a soldier who seeks opportunities to impress his superiors is an eager beaver —, originally US.

These disparate individuals will speak differently, and the differences will give rise to humorous teasing, or admiring imitation. Individuals in this type of setting usually choose to express their suppressed resentment, irritation, and anger by grumbling to workmates or, outside the workplace, to friends and family.

Slang also develops best where group identity is stronger, or at least more compelling, than external ties. Group identity is enhanced by pressure, which may result from the enforced position of inferiority, but other pressures may also contribute: particularly fear of death, failure, rejection, and so on.

This is clearly the case within a military unit, where an individual who cried before a mission would not only make it harder for everyone else to ignore their own fears but also cause everyone to worry that their tearful comrade might let them down under pressure. Although all of these conditions are met in the navy, not all of the terms used at sea qualify as slang.

As early as the s, in response to reports of the exploits of Sir Francis Drake, the shore-bound were offered the opportunity to learn the language of the sea with the help of reference books about naval life. These generally included non- standard terms only incidentally alongside more encyclopaedic infor- mation about knots, charts, and winds.

This made it possible for Grose, and others, to concen- trate on terms and senses implicitly designated as non-standard by their exclusion from more respectable dictionaries. It contributes towards the development of camaraderie, helps keep up morale, and provides a safe outlet for minor resentments. Going back to our biological metaphor, we can hypothesize that these factors are the conditions that best ensure that frogspawn develops: they provide the ideal nutrients, oxygen levels, and water temperature for the development of slang.

Now we need to test the theory. The external hierarchy is represented by prison staff, but although prisoners are to some extent united by their situation, there are also considerable frictions within the group that cannot prudently be expressed in outright violence. Personal identity is challenged by prison uniforms, regulation haircuts, physical restrictions, and strict disci- pline.

Public school slang So far so good: military and prison life both appear to support our theory of slang development. The non-standard language of British public schoolboys was richly documented during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Nineteenth-century guidebooks for new boys presented non-standard terms alongside information about school customs and pastimes.

The slow progression of boys through the school created continuity, so that terms could be passed on. The teachers knew about and tolerated this custom across several decades, and only restricted the violence involved after a scandal in the s. Prefects and sports captains were chosen by teachers, which meant that there was less friction between the two hierarchies.

Secondly, school tradition sometimes created too much continuity. American college slang American students provide another case study for slang development. As higher education enrolment rose in the US, colleges sought to distinguish themselves from one another in many of the same ways that public schools did: by clothing, sporting prowess, and language.

On the other hand, there was considerable pressure for conformity not just from those in authority, but also from other students. By the s, there was no question that, with the exception of a few terms relating to courses and locations on campus, college and high- school students were now using slang in much the same way. So how did teenagers come to be seen as a meaningful group, and why did they become such archetypal users of slang?

This happened at a stage in their lives when they began to desire more freedom and greater powers of self- determination. Behaviour that would have been entirely normal at their age a century before became problematized teenage pregnan- cies, smoking, drinking, etc. Energy that would once have been exhausted by the demands of physical labour was expressed in frus- tration and rebellion.

This creates the continuity necessary for the development of slang: teenagers will keep the same company across many years of schooling, and will operate within a social isolation that rivals the geographical isolation of soldiers and prisoners. Teenagers may occupy the same houses as their parents and irritating younger sib- lings, but they communicate primarily with their peers. Manufacturers and record producers recognized this new and susceptible market.

Hippies, in particular, felt themselves to be part of an international movement resisting the establishment. As a counterbalance to this globalization of youth culture, it has also become increasingly fractional. Online, within that group, slang will develop as surely as it does in physical proximity see Chapter Military authorities have long recognized the useful functions played by slang. This was designed to boost morale at home and in the forces, but also to provide a picture of the 6 Other terms of approval have already been mentioned or will come up later on.

Similarly, advertisers and broadcasters have also become aware that by using slang to address teenagers and, increasingly, also the rest of us , they can make their products seem newer and more appealing. For example, in c. Street slang Contemporary American urban gang culture is another situation apparently conducive to slang development. Differences within the group can be expressed almost as readily in violence as in words, and in this respect conditions are atypical for slang development.

However, what we think of as gang slang is several steps away from reality. Slang dictionaries and personal identity All of the groups discussed in this chapter were considered creative users of slang in their time. There are several sometimes dozens of contemporary slang glossaries for all of them. Let me provide some examples.

Rhyming slang dictionaries illustrate some of the other motiva- tions for producing popular slang dictionaries. Other rhyming-slang dictionaries appear to be written for the in- group rather than for outsiders. Actually, rhyming slang now appears to form part of a wider white working-class sense of self in England, and some rhyming-slang dictionaries address this broad English audience.

They imply that Englishness is about more than just living in England or being born in England. Where are the dictionaries of the slang used by sweatshop workers? Or by girls in boarding schools? Football hooligans? These groups probably do use slang terms, and have probably originated some of their own. No one has chosen to represent them as peculiarly creative users of slang. Equally, no one from outside the in-group has investigated whether they are or not. Conclusions The term slang was originally condemnatory, and it sometimes still is, but through the course of the twentieth century, earlier in Australia and the United States, later in Britain, it came to be used in a more celebratory sense.

Slang was once considered a sign of poor breeding or poor taste, but now it indicates that the speaker is fun-loving, youthful, and in touch with the latest trends. Although some adults try to discourage teenagers from using slang, plenty of others want to understand and adopt it.

In a world that celebrates youth and novelty, slang now functions as a visible symbol of success or failure in keeping up with the times. Where slang is a product of a particular type of social setting, many terms will survive for only a short time: our frogspawn will develop only so far. But why do some slang terms survive?

How do they move from one group to another until they are widely used around the world? Hawes, c. Connie C. This chapter will ask why some slang tadpoles continue to develop, while so many others fail to thrive, leaving barely a trace behind. This was particularly the case during WWI, when there were fewer opportunities for leave, especially for individuals stationed far from home. The invention of new terms was less necessary than it had been for British and Commonwealth forces, but new terms were created nonetheless.

By , the last American troops had returned to the United States. Most of them no longer needed to talk about artillery shells and body lice, so their military slang terms fell from use, perhaps to be revived only nostalgi- cally when returned soldiers bumped into one another and reminisced about their experiences orally or in print. For British WWI slang, see pp. Some veterans continued using some military slang in their every- day lives.

Some WWI slang was able to stay alive in these contexts, but there was only room for terms that could adapt to their new circumstances. We all sound off occasionally about things that irritate or annoy us, perhaps without realising that the term originates with an order instructing a marching band to strike up a tune.

Few of these WWI slang terms have retained their original sense unchanged: most sur- vive only with a different, and often much more general, meaning. American slang after WWI After all of the linguistic and other upheavals of WWI, you might think that it would be unnecessary to come up with any more new words for a while.

Flappers and their less numerous male counterparts, largely just a little too young or a little too female to have been affected by the war directly, were nevertheless devoted to living life as though it might end at any moment. Meets mother. Mother—Well, dear, did you have a good time? Flapper—Hot dog! Started perfectly blaah, though. He got jammed. We struck a jazz-garden where a bunch of bun-dusters were necking it. Some wallie tried to horn in on our gang and we bloused. We scandaled till one of the boys got beautifully shellacked, so we took the air.

They were, above all else, modern. Commentators observed them as individuals but wrote them up as a social movement. They also functioned, at this time, as a symbol of the folly of extending the vote to women. Their frivolity may have been endearing to some, but it was alarming to others. Her use of slang is in keeping with the rest of her speech and with the way she lives her life.

It is, above all, emphatic and exuberant. Survival and Metamorphosis 79 perfect or beautiful. None of this was particularly modern, but its concentra- tion in the speech of a well-to-do young woman addressing her mother would have been striking. Some are documented in use elsewhere, and a small number are still in use today. The language presented as belonging to these modern women shows very little overlap with WWI military slang.

By , to gatecrash had been created by back-formation. Not only must it never happen again, but it was also better not to dwell on it. Or, put another way, there will be no evidence of their use at all. Many slang terms are used for a time without contemporaries commenting on them. Veterans of WWI largely left its slang behind them. Terms remaining in their passive vocabularies could easily have been revived if circumstances had demanded it. We have no evidence for this type of conversation.

No journalist of the s or 50s thought to document the slang of middle-aged middle-class mothers. What was interesting by then was the new slang of the new generation. Like mothers, slang past its prime receives little attention. Despite the decade that separates them, they have a similar world view and lifestyle, but does the similarity extend to their language? Lipton lived in Venice, California, which was decidedly where it was at, and he listed around 80 terms characteristic of his social group as part of an attempt to explain the beat perspective to the wider world.

Survival and Metamorphosis 83 language. Many terms attributed to the beats had been in use for some time in more specialized or restricted contexts. Drug-users shared many of the characteristics that contem- porary commentators attributed to the beats, notably an unwilling- ness to wash or hold down a steady job.

A few other terms in the hippy glossary appear to have developed from uses included in the beat list. Beats, hippies, and after So what does all of this tell us about the beats and the hippies? It tells us that both groups were considered by their contemporaries or themselves, at least to be creative, modern, and unconventional. There were differences, of course, between the beats and the hippies.

The beats dropped out from society but were content to live alongside it, whereas many hippies sought to challenge and change the values and rules of mainstream society. New trends reacted against these ideals in their turn during the s, particularly glam rock, punk, and disco. Individuals of our age or older who used terms like far out or groovy marked themselves as hippies by association and, for a time at least in the circles I mixed in , these terms were only ever used ironically.

So much information in one little word—no wonder slang survives! In other places and among other groups of people, these terms probably had entirely different connotations. This will tend to happen where circumstances or attitudes remain relatively constant and where the new users of the slang terms are happy to be associated with the old users. The clothes and music may change, but as long as the underlying philosophy is similar, the slang terms can continue in use.

We have also seen that once youth move- ments began to rebel against the ideals of the late 60s and 70s, much of the slang associated with that period began to fall from use. Slang survival: Adaptation The second level on which slang terms survive is best represented by the WWI terms still in general use.

In circumstances that were completely different, and in a situation where many people were doing their best not to talk about or think about the war, these terms could survive only by adapting to their new conditions. Sometimes this survival was in much more restricted use, sometimes at the expense of a change in meaning, but it always comes about by chance rather than design. Changes in slang usage occur more freely and without the disapproval that sometimes meets changes in Standard English.

Slang survival: Allusion Slang terms can also survive in allusive use, often with ironic refer- ence to their original meaning or users. Allusive use may be a temporary stage on the route to obsolescence, but it also offers the possibility of revival at a later stage. Similarly revivable are slang terms that are remembered rather than actively used. Although most of these terms had little function in the post-war world, they remained available for use when required.

Perhaps this use of a shared vocabulary drew old soldiers closer by coded reference to their unspeakable shared experience. Slang survival: Representation Slang survives in allusive use, where the original users refer back to their own usage, but it also survives in representations of usage.

Because words like fab and groovy became so closely associated with the s although groovy had already been in use for several decades , they became easy shorthand for that decade not just among later youths of an ironic turn, but also for dramatic recreators of that period. In , when Mike Myers wanted to parody British cinema of the s, he had Austin Powers use slang that matched his clothes.

After this point, people starting using words like fab and groovy third-hand: in ironic reference to a parody of s usage, and these and other terms acquired a new lease of life as a consequence. Conclusions For slang to survive, conditions have to remain similar or adaptation has to occur. Most of us pick up and use slang in everyday conversation rather than in the enforced companionship of the barracks, prison cell, or school dormitory. We use slang in casual conversations in the places where we live, work, and socialize.

Social grooming and individuality Most slang words are optional substitutes for synonyms in Standard English. Usually whatever is said in slang could be expressed in Standard English. LOL, good one matey. The clip shows a man called Guy Goma, who was waiting for a job interview when he was mistakenly taken into a studio during a live broadcast and introduced as Guy Kewney, an IT expert.

After his initial and amusingly apparent shock, Goma did his best to answer the questions put to him despite his lack of expertise. Another contributor took issue with the use of the word sick, interpreting it as criticism rather than a term of admiration and assuming that the criticism was motivated by racism.

Using slang makes it possible to say more or less the same thing in a variety of ways. Saying the same thing in a variety of ways is less about communicating meaning than about building and maintaining rela- tionships. It contributes to the social grooming function played by conversation, in the same way that greetings, compliments, and observations about the weather do, but slang helps us to express ourselves as individuals at the same time.

In the responses to this clip, slang also conveys a far more exuberant sense of admiration and humour than Standard English can. The OED offers this as a possible etymology, along with a derivation from an otherwise unattested strong past participle of crank: the DJ cranks up the music, the music is cranked, the audience is crunk.

The meaning of crunk is less important than its interpersonal function. Fortunately, for now, Sam only has to pretend to recognize the password when Jack uses it. They can also sound condescending when the claimed equality is undermined by other indications of unequal wealth or status.

The Spread of Slang 99 indicating that he smokes it himself. Shared assumptions and implicit judgements Having established their common ground, Sam and Jack have a beer. The attractive one by the door. She seems to be on the look out for a sexual partner. Sam: Oh no! Jack: What? Sam: I had sexual intercourse with her last week and the promiscuous young lady has changed her Facebook status to indicate that she is in some kind of relationship.

You appear, inadvertently, to have become the object of her affections. By using score — , Jack may also be indicating a healthy heterosexual interest in sport. Thus he reasserts his own virility in a situation that looks set to undermine it. By saying that he copped off with — Amy an American might once have said he copped her off , Sam is signalling that a casual and purely physical connection took place between them and that it was inappropriate for her to assume that this represented the beginning of a meaningful relationship.

Do you really want me to have to make up a therapist as well? Closed doors Later, Sam leaves with Amy and Jack staggers off on his own. The last thing he needs is for his Dad to be waiting up for him, beer in hand: Dad: Jack! Jack: Grunts Dad: Good gig?

Jack: Yeah, whatever. When I was your age. Gotta get some kip. Dad: Ok son, good night. Jack: Laters. Wazzup is still used, but without the lengthening of the vowel. In other words, in response to wazzup, Jack would generally say wazzup. Jack resents the implied shared experience and despises Ian for trying to ingratiate himself. In this conversation, slang plays a different social function.

Instead of drawing the speakers closer together, it drives them further apart. Why did you let that twanger near your fud again? Laura: You wuss! Amy: Fair sneech, but it takes one to know one, Mrs Sweatbag. Laura: Liz, can I borrow some shrap until the weekend? Have you Amy? Amy: Nope. No wonga till payday. Because these three have lived together for some months, some mixing of slang terms has already occurred.

As in the conversation between Jack and his Dad, the slang user is the one trying to win approval. Because they both went to the same school, the sisters share many slang terms in common, but not all. Laura: Nope. Completely out of wonga. Charlie: Me too. Laura: What are you doing tonight? Charlie: Going down the Tavern. Mia: Looking for Dan the man?

Charlie: OMG! No way. Mia: Lol! Laura holds her tongue for now because being in a minority undermines her big-sisterly authority. Laura: Why? Laura: Bare gay! You sound so stupid. Mia: You would say that. Mia: Gay. Laura: Yeah, right. Like you even know anyone gay.

Mia: Yeah. Charlie is available to chat: Mia: my sisters so gay!! Charlie: lol. Mia: shes always dissing me Charlie: douchebag! Charlie: lush! Like many people, Charlie and Mia have terms for approval lush and disapproval gay that they use habitually. Call that pedantic? In the conversations between Jack and his Dad, slang was also used to: In the Facebook exchange between Mia and Charlie, slang was used because: To enrich the language. This deliberateness is rare save among the well-educated, Cockneys forming the most notable exception; it is literary rather than spontaneous.

To lend an air of solidity, concreteness, to the abstract; of earthi- ness to the idealistic; of immediacy and appositeness to the remote. In the cultured the effort is usually premeditated, while in the uncultured it is almost always unconscious when it is not rather subconscious.

Reasons or functions? Lists like this imply that users of slang are deliberately employing it for these purposes. Making reference to that popular beer commercial will be a useful way of doing this. Slang is often just a way of expressing emotions: Dad: [feels: drunkenly affectionate] Jack: [feels: tired and unsociable] Although the person hearing a slang term may conclude that the slang-user is cool or rebellious or humorous, the slang-user may be using the same term they usually would: the same term that everyone in their group of friends would also use.

You can be funny, rebellious, friendly, aloof, stylish, and many other things in Standard English, but where Standard English lets you down is that it changes only slowly. This means that individuals who are less funny, rebellious and so on can achieve the same results merely by imita- tion.

Like any good code, it changes often. Best not to try, hey? Slang creation and use Think back to the championship bout in Chapter 1: the champions of slang and Standard English were slugging it out and I avoided declar- ing which side I was on. The argu- ments in favour of slang were about slang itself: it is vibrant, creative, and so on. These qualities might be attributed to slang-creators.

On the other hand, slang-users might be perfectly charming were it not for their irritating repetition of tired slang words. The arguments are based on an entirely false dichotomy. Because new slang is creative i. Because some slang users have limited vocabularies, people who speak Standard English know more words.

How did Jack, our imaginary British student, pick up crunk from southern American hip hop enthusiasts? By collecting data about the earliest examples, we can get a good idea of when and where it arose. We now have six interrelated centres of infection, and it may be better to treat them as groups rather than as individuals see Figure 10 because slang is all about social groups.

At some point, the original group will probably stop using the slang term, either because they start using another term or drift apart as a social circle, but the infection lives on without them by word of mouth across interconnected social networks. Under this model, a British hip hop enthusiast would have picked up crunk in face-to-face conversation with an American hip hop enthusiast, enabling it to spread to Britain.

Before we come back to the limitations of this model, have another look at D. D is resistant to this particular strain of bacteria. Most people will be like D some of the time, and if there were no Ds, there would be no slang because all new terms would quickly enter general use. Does that sound like any teenager you used to be? Jack will have picked up the term from lyrics or from discussions of hip hop online or in the media. Or he may have acquired it at one stage further removed: from its use in British hip hop circles.

Or, once its use had spread to British hip hop circles, from commen- tators in the British media. Slang spreads by social contact, but also via the media and the Internet. A small number of slang terms represent additions to the semantic range of the language: to represent a new idea, a new anxiety, or a new technology.

The rest of this book takes a longer view of the history of English slang, which can really only be understood as part of the history of English itself. Conclusions Chapters 2—5 have broken the creation and development of slang into four stages: creation spawning , early development from fertiliza- tion , adaptation and survival the tadpole stage , and spreading into wider use as frogs.

Each slang word or phrase will move through these processes at different rates, and some scholars use slang for words in all of these stages. Some scholars focus on the moment of spawning, trying to track down slang-creators. Others become inter- ested in words only at their tadpole stage, considering the slang of tightly-knit professional and special interest groups to be more akin to jargon.

There are also plenty of publications on slang that see only the frogs: discussing slang in use without reference to its origins or development. For the early history of slang, discussed in the next few chapters, it should be assumed that a great deal of short-lived slang has come and gone without being noticed in print.

Does this mean there was no slang as we know it until then? Or that it was called something else? Various adjectives were used to describe improper lan- guage, including knavish c. It still usually implies some type of dishonesty and is now generally used with reference to the language of beggars, criminals, estate agents, politicians, and religious hypocrites. The next chapter will return to the subject of slang proper.

Cheating gamesters and thieving prostitutes In his Manifest Detection of the Most Vile and Detestable Use of Diceplay , Gilbert Walker explained that just as a carpenter uses specialized terms within his profession, so does a cheating gamester. These terms appear to have been commonly used, and many were also adopted by card-players. Ace and deuce are still used in tennis. Walker emphasizes in his title that the newly leisured classes were particularly susceptible to cheating gamesters.

He offers a separate glossary of the terms used in each activity. Nan: Why Laurence. Where can such girls as myself be blemished with a threadbare coat as long as country farmers have full purses and wanton citizens pockets full of pence? Laurence: Truth if fortune so favour thy husband, that he be neither smoked nor cloyed, for I am sure all thy bravery comes by his nipping, foisting, and lifting. Nan: In faith sir no, did I get no more by mine own wit, than I reap by his purchase, I might both go bare and penniless the whole year.

But mine eyes are stalls and my hands lime twigs else were I not worthy the name of a she coney-catcher. By describing her eyes as stalls c. A lime twig c. Tour the pattering cove in the darkman case Docked the dell for a copper make. Cyarum by Salmon [an oath] and thou shalt peck my ire In thy gan. For my watch it is nase gear [clothes]. For the bene bouse my watch hath a wyn.

This man is of so much authority, that meeting with any of his profession, he may call them to account, and command a share or snap unto himself of all that they have gained by their trade in one month. And though he do them wrong, they have no remedy against him, no though he beat them, as he uses commonly to do. He may also command any of their women, which they call doxies, to serve his turn. He hath the chief place at any market, walk and other assemblies, and is not of any to be controlled.

His Caveat or Warning for Common Cursitors2 sets out to reveal these tricks and expose the beggars using them. They include fraters c. Named individuals to keep an eye out for included: Harry Smith, he drivels when he speaks John Stradling, with the shaking head Robert Brownsword he wears his hair long Harry Walls with the little mouth John Donne with one leg Harman also provided a short glossary of terms allegedly collected from beggars under threat of a whipping.

The glossary is followed by a dialogue between an uprightman and a rogue the second in com- mand. Uprightman: Why where is the ken that has the bene bouse? Rogue: A bene mort hereby at the sign of the prancer. Like a computer cursor, vagabonds can move about freely. First set me down here on both my prats.

Gently, gently, for cracking of my wind, now I must use it. Hem, hem. This bouse is better than rum-bouse; It sets the gan a-giggling. Songs were also constructed using cant and slang terms, and some seem to have become popular accompaniments to a night of serious drinking.

I met a dell, I viewed her well, she was benship to my watch: so she and I, did stall and cloy whatever we could catch. This doxy dell can cut bene whids, and wap well for a win: and prig and cloy so benshiply, all the deuse-avile within.

Some of this may have made sense to you. Later writers sometimes comment on the astonishing continuity of canting vocabulary across the centuries and regard this as a reliable indication that the criminal underworld is and has long been tightly knit and highly organized. Other evidence of early modern cant The Proceedings of the Old Bailey offer very few examples of these terms in their canting senses between and , which suggests that criminals carefully concealed their secret language in court, that these terms had fallen from use by , that although they were used in court, they were not preserved in the written record, or that they were never commonly employed.

Shakespeare depicts a group of thieves in Henry IV, Part I without resorting to the canting tradition for his vocabulary. In this scene, Hal and his friends are plotting a highway robbery although actually Hal is planning to steal the money from his accomplices later on and return it to its original owner.

The conspirators lie in wait for their victims in an isolated spot, and Falstaff complains about having to walk so far: Falstaff: A plague upon you all! Give me my horse, you rogues; give me my horse and be hanged. Hal: Peace, ye fat-guts. Lie down, lay thine ear close to the ground and list if thou canst hear the tread of travellers. Falstaff: Have you any levers to lift me up again, being down? What a plague mean ye to colt me thus? Hal: Thou liest: thou art not colted; thou art uncolted.

Hal: Out, ye rogue; shall I be your ostler? Falstaff: Hang thyself in thine own heir-apparent garters! His language is as much an indication of his debauchery as his companions and behaviour are. Whether they represent the language of contemporary criminals is less important in the dramatic context than the fact that they sound as if they could.

Inside information from the eighteenth century Much more information about canting language is available from the eighteenth century. Some are very good for the sneaking-budge; which is, privately stealing anything off of a stall. Off of c. The speed at which he could locate stolen goods was quite remarkable. These thieves bring professional equipment with them and are willing to use vio- lence if necessary: A buzz, alias prig, alias thief. A cove, alias man. A dub, alias tilt, alias pick- lock-key.

A glim-stick, alias dark-lantern. A bess, alias betty. Pops, alias pistols. To slum the ken alias to break into the house. The Dancers, alias the Stairs. To bundle the cull of the ken, alias to tie the man of the house neck and heels. To lope off, alias to get away.

A Fence, alias or lock, alias a buyer of stolen goods. Ridge, alias gold. Wedge, alias silver. A boosing-ken, alias an ale-house. In , John Poulter gave evidence against his accomplices in a robbery, under the impression that this would help him to avoid punishment. Other evidence of eighteenth-century cant Independent evidence of eighteenth-century canting language is provided by the publications of the Ordinaries, or chaplains, of Newgate Prison.

In these two extracts, criminals describe the circumstances of their crimes: We had not sat long before he fell fast asleep in the chair, having, as I observed before, drank pretty hard, and being very much tired. Are you Mollying each other? Perhaps, having already been convicted, prisoners had nothing to lose by revealing their canting terms.

Perhaps the Ordinary inserted them to increase sales by livening up the confessions. In either case, their inclusion suggests that some of the terms listed in the dictionaries of this period and some that were also found in the earlier dictionaries were widely known at this time.

I shall see my jolly old codger by the tinney-side, I suppose with his daylights dim, and his trotters shivering under him. No one to give me Hansel? Three usages in this extract had become more slangy through the course of time. Handsel had been used to refer to a gift given to seal an agreement since around Not all of the attention paid to the poor in this period was motivated by idle curiosity.

In , W. For example: I buzzed a bloak and a shakester of a reader and a skin. My jomer stalled. He cracked a case last night and fenced the swag. I picked the pocket of a gentleman and lady of a pocket-book and a purse. My fancy girl stood near me and screened me from observation. He committed a burglary last night and had disposed of the property plundered.

He told me that Bill had hustled a person and obtained a watch; he had also robbed a well-dressed gentleman of a ring. Trousers, pronounced trouses. ROWDY, n. Conclusions This chapter has discussed the evidence for cant, the language of thieves and beggars, from to the middle of the nineteenth century. As in this chapter, the evidence is largely drawn from texts written in and about London, although other large cities undoubtedly developed their own criminal language and slang.

If these local cant or slang terms were recorded at all, they would probably have been treated as dialect. Warner, , n. Bassam, , Hell upon Earth n. Price, , 10—11, were both published anonymously. Brandon, esq. By that time, London was big enough to have distinct social layers, making it very different from contemporary rural parishes in which the poorest and the richest would all have been on speaking terms with one another.

There were enough people in London by the end of the sixteenth century that it had become possible to socialize mainly with people of the same social class, or with shared interests, occupations, or political views, and with social isolation comes dislike and fear of other groups. As international trade grew, British mer- chants from humble backgrounds amassed large fortunes, blurring previously dependable class divisions.

Wealth no longer provided a reliable indicator of class, so etiquette and language became more important in determining gentility. Clearly there were overlaps and connections between these groups. The medieval period Little is or can be known about non-standard language in the medie- val period.

Evidence that the Anglo-Saxons used slang is similarly absent. It would be nearer the truth to say that no one spoke Standard English. But could Chaucer and his late fourteenth-century contemporaries really be rebellious, rude, offensive, vivid, and insulting without using slang?

A group of pilgrims travelling to Canter- bury have agreed to take part in a story-telling competition. Once the Knight has told his tale, the Host invites the Monk, who is second highest in rank, to go next. Thou art a fool, thy wit is overcome! There are also plenty of insults thou art a fool, thy wit is overcome , threats I will.

Slanging matches As urban communities grew larger during the late medieval and early modern period, law-makers became increasingly involved in the task of keeping the peace by outlawing public quarrelling. In this extract from The Alchemist , Ben Jonson sets the scene with a lengthy and violent argument, which begins: Subtle: Away, you trencher-rascal! Face: Out, you dog-leech! The vomit of all prisons — Dol Common: Will you be Your own destructions, gentlemen?

Subtle: Cheater! Face: Bawd! Subtle: Cow-herd! Face: Conjurer! Subtle: Cut-purse! Face: Witch! Dol Common: Oh me! Face: Away this brach! And you, sir, with your menstrue! Puke —, now colloquial was also being used in medical texts alongside various politer alternatives, so spew may well be functioning as slang in this context.

Another way of increasing the value derived from a coin was to barb it, whereby slivers of gold were clipped off to be melted down: the coin was reduced in weight but retained its face value. The existence of Standard English clip a. To continue with the canine theme, which may have been given particular force by the use of dog as a substitute for God in oaths? London slang Unfortunately for the inhabitants of London and for students of slang, no plays were performed during the period —60, because the Puritans, who were no fun at all, closed the theatres.

It has nothing to do with ducks, and why would it? Pinchwife: No, rather be a cuckold, like a credulous cit. Harcourt: Madam, you would not have been so little generous as to have told him. Mrs Alithia: Yes, since you could be so little generous, as to wrong him.

Sparkish: What, what; now dear rogue, has not she wit? Harcourt: Not so much as I thought, and hoped she had. Mrs Alithia: Mr. Sparkish, do you bring people to rail at you? Harcourt: Madam— Sparkish: How! Actually, people continued to care about their reputations very much, and even fashionable wits were sometimes ready to duel to the death in response to insults.

With insults, as with slang, context is all. Fortunately, he can raise money in anticipation of his inheritance, and this earns him the attention of two fraudsters, called Cheatly and Shamwell: Shamwell: This morning your clothes and liveries will come home, and thou shalt appear rich and splendid like thyself, and the mobile shall worship thee. Belford: The mobile! Sweet Mr Cheatly, my best friend, let me embrace thee.

Cheatly: My sprightly son of timber and of acres; my noble heir I salute thee: the cole is coming, and shall be brought in this morning. Belford: Cole? Besides, I intend to burn billets [logs cut for burning]. Cheatly: My lusty rustic, learn and be instructed.

Cole is in the language of the witty, money. The ready, the rhino; thou shalt be rhinocerical, my lad, thou shalt. Belford: Admirable I swear: cole, ready, rhino, rhinocerical; Lord, how long may a man live in ignorance in the country! Lady Smart : What!

Lady Queasy of all women in the world! Do you say it upon rep? Colonel Atwit: Her Ladyship was plaguily bambed; I warrant, it put her into the hips. Planting Seeds or Reaping Harvest? Have I wasted 3 years working for someone else? How much formal education do I need? How important is my degree? What should I do in college? What did you learn in school?

Should a programmer get an MBA? Why don't you think an MBA is important? How important is a degree in business? What do you best remember from your MBA? Why should an MBA learn programming? What are employers looking for?

How do you prepare your resume? How good are most job applicants? What will you do for a prospective employer? Should I show my code to an interviewer? Why's it so hard to find good programmers? Why do coding tests? Why do a coding test on a white board? Why do interviewers give code tests? What is an example of an interview test? How can I do better on interview tests?

Should I send a Thank You note? How can a company blow a job interview? Why doesn't anyone call me back? Should I go into management? How do you achieve laser focus? How to you start a new project? Why do you use such simple tools? How fast do you work? What does your IDE look like? How do you work? How do you stay so jazzed? How do you make better use of your time? How do you split your time up?

How do you get unstuck? What's most important about work? How do you get things done? How do you keep track of your thoughts? How do you boost your creativity? How do you stay productive? How do you combat work overload? Why work more hours? Why be fearless? Can programming be boring? How do you manage your time spent? How do you capture good ideas? How do you get good at programming?

How do I rise out of the ordinary? Why are you a "caveman" programmer? What tools do you use for analysis? Why do you love email? Where do you like to sit in your office? How important is office space?

How do you pick the best language for you? Any other advantages to working at home? How do manage to enjoy working at home? How do you split your programming time? What got you "hooked"? Is programming hard work? How do I become addicted to programming?

Why do we lose our passion? Why are languages so unimportant? How does age affect programming? How much does age affect ability? Are you glad you became a programmer? How much easier is it for an expert? What athlete are you most like?

Are young programmers better? What's the advantage of working for someone else? Why is it so hard to find programmers? Is there anything good about my job? What should an older entrepreneur do? What's hardest about programming? Where did you learn what you need to know? Why didn't you pursue mathematics? Should I keep my day job? How do you balance work with your SO? Have you ever been burnt out? Why were you such a late bloomer? What do your parents think you do?

Why are some programmers so condescending? What are the biggest geek myths? Who is a superstar developer? Do you think you have peaked? Why do you program? What are your hardest learned lessons? What have you learned from mentors? Who are the real heros of programming? What if I'm not as good as someone else? How perfect do you have to be? Are good programmers born or made? What's your greatest life lesson?

Are programmers expensive? How far from shore are you? What is "fear of failure"? How can I be excellent with a day job? How do you put your skills to good? Issues vs. How is an issue different from a detail? What are the biggest programming myths? Should I learn or build first? What's the big deal with startups? How do you find inspiration?

How does one turn out the way they do? How important to society is your software? What is "Intellectual Horsepower"? Weakness or Strength? Why use a framework? How do you feel about competition? How do you collect requirements? How can clever software help customers? What's a minimalist coding style?

How do you build something piece by piece? Are these things really that hard to do? Is becoming a lazy programmer evolving? How are we making this too complicated? Can waterfall planning work? What makes a programmer senior? Why are relational databases so important?

Is software engineering dead? When should you rewrite? How can you clean input data? Annoyances vs. What can be optimized? Why pre-develop? What's the best way to assign ID's? Why do you hate bad design so much? Why do you hate old code so much? What makes code crappy?

How much software is open source? How far should automation go? Why start your own business? I'm sooo confused How can I get started? What went wrong in your first start-up? Why are details so important? Why are you writing your own software? When do you say "yes"? What drives development? Why would you not launch? Does consulting hurt a software start-up? What do small business owners care about? How does it feel to be a single founder? What should a business guy have to offer?

Where can I get help starting a business? Why should you fire bad customers? How important are ethics? Why are ethics so important? Do you conduct business over meals? What's your favorite start-up book? What do enterprise people need to know? What is a typical enterprise day like? What's is enterprise IT's biggest fear? Why do excellent programmers leave enterprises? Where are there real problems to solve? How should layoffs be handled? How do you test drive packaged software? Have you ever been a hero at work?

Why is SQL so important in enterprises? How did ERP get so screwed up? Why is ERP becoming a dinosaur? How tough is on-line retailing? Why would we want to go faster? When can code review be a problem? Can business software be life critical? How risky is free software? What questions would you ask a new boss? Why do enterprises stifle creativity?

Do bosses lie? How important is networking? How do you find customers? What do you talk about with prospects? How do you tell your story? How do you crack the enterprise world? What are the Spending Authority Cut-Offs? How do you close the deal? How do I close a sale? What was your most creative resume? If Samuel L. What if I miss a day of Hacker News? I've functioned as an employee, a contractor, and a vendor. I've worked in many industries, almost always on business systems. I've always loved what I do and can't imagine doing anything else.

So I recently decided to compile my favorite Hacker News contributions here. There are plenty of other resources for that. Inside you'll find the opinions of someone who's been in the trenches for years and isn't afraid to say what he thinks. Whether or not you agree, understand, or even care, I hope you find something of value.

That's the best I could hope for. For a computer programmer, it had lots of cool articles, interesting commentary, and most of all, like minded souls. It became my on-line home - the location may have been virtual, but the results have been all too real. My response was always, "I do write -- software.

It took a while before I realized that this wasn't a zero-sum game; different kinds of writing can compliment and even enhance each other. I learn something new and valuable every time I read a comment of yours, since your comments almost always contain really good tips. I for one would buy that book for sure.

Hacker News reader edw makes a great observation I hope to pass on your positive energy to others in some way. This book is my first step. The contents were already written, as contributions to Hacker News, a large on-line community for computer programmers. For example, whenever you see "crap" in this book, you can bet that it was something much "stronger" in the original. It displays the comments, one at a time or in groups, enabling me to cruise through them very quickly, using only arrow keys.

It sorts the comments five ways: by descending number of words, by descending points, by descending date, by descending weight a secret formula , and in output sequence. It enables me to quickly classify any comment by suitability, chapter, and sequence.

It filters the comments by classification. It enables me to drop down and edit any comment. It automatically classifies unread comments based upon similarity to classified comments and some rules. The idea was to classify the first comments and have the software classify the remaining 3, I realized this capability was unnecessary when the book would only contain entries. Oh well. It cuts the book in multiple formats, ready for distribution.

I spent more time on the software than the contents of the book. Then I decided to get the book out and finish the software later. I intend to make it available on-line at some point so that others can assemble their own books. What are some qualifications of a computer programmer? You have to understand the landscape that your software will fit into.

Then you have to be willing and able to dig down deep and be comfortable building stuff at the lowest level of detail. This takes a great deal of logical thinking, attention to detail, and personal focus. What is the best part of being a computer programmer? The worst? The most challenging? For me, this is so exciting that I still I do a "happy dance" every time. The worst part is the long hours alone.

There's really no way around it; good software takes time and almost everything is done by someone alone at a terminal. The most challenging is finding a project big enough to not be boring but small enough that's it's too difficult to make good progress. What's the salary range in this career? Either way, the range is very wide and depends on many factors, some outside of your control. Like any other profession, you should be a programmer because you love to program, not because of how much money you'll make.

What is a typical day in the life of a computer programmer? My day starts at my terminal, making changes to my current program based the mark-ups I did to my hard copy in bed the night before. I spend most of the day at the terminal writing code, changing it, trying it out, and taking occasional notes.

I avoid interruptions as much as I can. I have a regular lunch and dinner and some social life, but not too much. Every day ends the same, in bed with whatever I worked on that day, reviewing and marking up. Incredible attention to detail is required and this is how I do it. What is some advice you would give to young computer programmers?

Nothing can be more important. Whenever you need to learn something, find a way to learn it, whether it's a class, friends, or more likely, a book or website. It you want to be a programmer badly enough, you'll find this approach natural. If you don't, you won't. Is it easy to find a job as a computer programmer? It not, not so much. What was your most exciting project? What skills do you think young programmers need for the job? What improvement does computer programming give for human life?

The possibilites for those people are endless. What is the future direction of computer programming? Would life be a lot worse without computer programming? How much? Computer programming doesn't have everything to do with the difference, but it does have a lot. Much of today's advanced lifestyle has resulted from modern technology.

Much modern technology came from software. All software came from computer programming. You just gotta experience it yourself. There's nothing like putting something together and seeing it work the first time. Even if it isn't perfect, that first output is better than sex. Still makes make holler and jump out of my chair! The output, not the sex.

Grab a book or something on-line. They're everywhere. Follow the instructions and do what they say. Build you app. Or not. Either way is OK, but to not give it a shot this year would be a shame. School is cool, but nothing replaces just doing it. Go through all the exercises and tutorials. Build something. You can augment the book with tutorials you find on-line. Then you can View Source on any web page and understand what they did and what they did wrong.

The execises and tutorials for php, MySQL, and apache should be enough, although you can find more almost anywhere. Build something! Now that you already know javascript, you can include that in the pages you build as required. This can be tricky. If you adopt a framework too soon, you may run into a problem for which you don't understand enough about what's going on under the hood because you never learned it.

If you adopt a framework too late, you'll be hand coding everything and will never get done. Time consuming doing. Books and resources any necessary but hardly sufficient. This does not work for a small software start-up. You must dig deep and learn well. I'm just going to share my perspective that might shed some light on your issue.

He said, "You may never have a better opportunity to explore and learn new things. Once you settle down with a career and family, all your time will be spoken for. So try everything! How will you know who you are and what you're interested in unless you experiment?

I still majored in math and became a computer programmer, but I did a lot of stuff that I simply don't have time for today. And I miss a lot of it. Back then, I thought humanities was boring, but what I would give for a few days off to curl up with a good book.

Reading literature might help you write code. Music may help you with math. Working at the mall or living in a fraternity house could help you learn how to run a business. So keep doing those things that "seem" like they're boring and uninteresting. Many of them will be a waste of time, but there will certainly be a few pearls in there, too. Don't miss the opportunity of discovering them because you just want to stay in your comfort zone.

Now is the best time to leave that comport zone and discover the other stuff. Eventually, you'll be glad you did. Identifying what is missing is your first step in determining where to go from here. Always working. Important stuff. Sometimes cool, often not. But something was always missing. Inadequate data base design. Insufficient requirements definition. Lousy code base. Unable to scale.

Unable to expand or handle completely new features. The passion is built-in. Instead of, "Look at me, ma! Fill in the gaps that should have been providing passion all along. That oughta keep you busy for a while. Filthy rich, even. It's a byproduct. If you have something you "must" do, identify it and focus on it.

If you don't, find it. Everything else, including money, is just a detail. Again, if you have something you "must" do, you head is already plenty clear. If you don't, then what are you clearing your head for? Find what you "must" do. Start doing it. The process of doing will probably help you find your mission.

The processes of thinking, preparing tools, and dreaming about money probably won't. If you have 2 computers, make one for work and the other for internet and "put them in different rooms". Throw your TV set into the dumpster. When you have code to work on, be at your terminal, working on it Mode 1. When you don't have code to write, be anywhere but your terminal with pencil and paper handy Mode 2. Start every day in Mode 1 and end every day probably in bed in Mode 2.

Ending the day in Mode 2 in requisite to being able to start in Mode 1 the next day. Take care of yourself. Everyone else was at best managers and business people, or at worst, administrators or posers. The best and most logical way to do this is by programming. And you will have to do this intensely and for long hours, so "you have to love it". Intelligence matters, work habits matter, ability to work with other people matters, but make no mistake about it, there is no substitute for passion.

They have to check on their work after dinner. They have to review their notes at bed time. They are often the first in the office in the morning and just as often the last to leave. They read and learn voraciously and can't wait to apply their skills to new problems.

They're so busy doing what they love, they don't even think of it as "working 9 to 5". So do yourself and the rest of us a favor and find something you love and major in that. If, on the other hand, it's too late or it doesn't make sense to switch majors, then go ahead and finish your CS major, but please find a direction to follow that puts you in work you love. Be forewarned, though. Unless you're a programmer first, you probably won't make a very good sales engineer or project manager.

You may want to consider sales or even dare I say proceeding on to business school for your MBA. Let me explain So if you have "really good domain knowledge", then you probably aren't a mediocre programmer at all, you're probably a good programmer or even better. Then I hear the 2 voices in my head. One says, "That is so cool - I have to learn that! I may need a few more lines of codes and a couple of hacks, but it will still do the exact same thing. You will never learn everything.

You will never become the expert at more than one or two things. It's great to "learn", but not at the expense of "doing". You need both. There were many times I had to build something with my limited knowledge and wished I knew more.

But then I built it anyway. Something built with limited resources today is better than something built perfectly tomorrow. But please don't fall into the trap that you aren't good enough because "someone else" knows "something more". That will always be the case. You can't win that battle. Get satisfaction from the benefits you provide others with what you know now.

This discussion. A truly burnt out person would not have even bothered. Kinda like claiming you're over your ex-girlfriend but still wonder what she's doing all day long. The fact that you asked is not an admission of giving up; it is a cry for help. You still really want this.

There are days when I can't stay awake at my terminal. Sometimes I hit a road block and wonder how I'll ever get by. I usually step away for a time, but here is my real secret If I'm really down, I pick some mundane task like refactoring 25 lines of code, manually updating 50 records, or even changing some naming conventions. But not something big like solving a client-server architecture problem. Hell, that's the reason I'm already down. One other thing - the task must be in the heart of your project; cleaning off your desk or reading a journal don't count.

Then do the task. You'll feel a little better, I promise. The next day, do it again, maybe with a slightly bigger task. And again. Who knows, you may be feeling a lot better before you know it. Use others for support. You are not alone. After a year, you'll have plenty of ideas, maybe even one of your own. The best predictor of your success in any endeavor is your own determination. With someone else's idea, you're much more likely to bail at the first sign of difficulty.

Once you get a little real world experience under your belt, you'll find plenty of opportunities to encounter something for which you'll have real passion. The only way to know if you "have to do it" is to have a little background and experience with it. Trading ideas like commodities seems like the least likely way to find something you'll be passionate about.

You'll learn what people want, see what works and what doesn't, and be much more adept at identifying opportunities. Oh, and get a chance to bank some money so that when you do start working on your passion, you can concentrate on that instead of begging for funding. Get a job and pay your dues. You'll probably be glad that you did.

The more rigorous the documentation and project management, the better. Get it out there ASAP. Get feedback ASAP. Iterate indefinitely. There simply isn't a need for systems analysis in School of Thought B. By the time you're done analyzing, someone else is servicing the customers you sought. They go perfectly together. But what about the giant issue hardly anyone mentions: real world experience. In the past week alone, I've been challenged with problems I've never seen before that are really affecting these people.

Now they want the new release's functionality with the old release's interface. People will pay big bucks for technical solutions to these real world business problems. I know, everyone wants to start the next , and get rich now and no one wants to sit in Megacorp's cube farm. And a startup, even a failed one, may be a better education. Something to think about. Some ways are better that others, but "any way" is better than "no way". Just get the thing done. Later, when you refactor, you'll have the best of all worlds: code that did the job right away, a better way of doing things, a satisfied customer, and a great learning experience.

Same thing with programming. I'm too busy getting work done to learn every new tool or technique. Maybe not as pretty, but probably just as fast and just as effective. Errors are what point you in the right direction. The sooner you learn to embrace errors and use them to refine your work, the sooner you'll become fearless and better. That's what my schedule looks like.

One item. One day. Project managers can't stand this, but then again, I get way more work done than they do. Users get to give me feedback, but I don't care what other programmers think. Sure, I learn from them, but never in the context of reviewing the code I wrote. I learn from the code of others and apply those lessons to my own work. You will probably learn more building anything than learning it in school. Just because the rest of the world is quick to diagnose everything doesn't mean you have to.

Being "really not smart" is the least likely of any of them. They are much more likely caused by other things like uninteresting work, poor environment, personal issues, nasty people, or even health issues. Whether you're "smart" or not, thinking that your aren't is pretty much a guarantee for failure. Please don't do that. You don't need a book; you need a project. I have achieved much, but have always had difficulty learning from books and theory. It's hard! You need to find work where the things you need to learn will be required.

Funny how quickly and easily you'll find a way to learn them when you actually need them. I'm not sure how you should go about finding such work, but I know you'll figure that out. That makes you normal. Have you ever gotten really jazzed about the project you were working on?

Have you ever lept up out of your seat and danced when you got something working? Stop selling yourself short. If you haven't experienced any by now, then you probably never will. No one should have to "force themself" to love what they're doing. Find something else. This works especially well if the someone else is in business, very busy, and has some money. Chances are better that your solution to their problem won't have much competition: if it did, they would have already gone with it.

I have always been much more successful scratching other people's itches. And I act on many of them. So much cool stuff. If only I can get this working, it will change the world. And I love being in this mode; it's so much fun.

And it can lead to great things At some point, you have to find a customer. Any kind of customer, just someone besides yourself who wants what you're doing. This always worked out well. Don't let that happen to you. I'm just saying the point you need to find a customer is much earlier than the hacker mindset intuitively expects. It came in really handy for the simple apps everyone seems to need every once in a while. He quoted based upon the already demonstrated performance of me and my "little tool".

So I had a choice, hand code or upgrade the tool to generate it. I chose to add funtionality to the tool to generate code needed for an open project already well behind schedule. I didn't stand a chance. Even hard coding everything probably would not have saved the gig. It's never as good as it seems. It's also rarely as bad as it seems. You don't have to know every single thing each is doing, but you better be on the same wavelength.

Commit to nothing until everyone agrees. There's just too much technical work for one to be overwhelmed and the other to be "waiting". If you have a job you love, why would you want to leave? You don't even have any plans. I'd understand this a little better if you had a project you're dying to work on full time, but that's not the case. If that side project gets big, go part time. If it gets so big, you're "burning" to work on it full-time, then quit, but not before. Also, don't discount all the data you get from your job to feed your startup plans.

Lots of people would love to do a startup, but don't know what to work on. People with jobs don't have that problem as much. The job can be the source of lots of great ideas for things people actually need right now. You can do both, at least for a while. You can always leave later once something else has wings.

Of course you can see no "redeeming value" right now. If you just planted seeds in your garden out back, you wouldn't see any results there either, "today". You just don't know when or what. What you don't know now and probably won't even realize then was that what you did today stirred a few neurons to enable that light bulb to go on in the future. If you didn't see a harvest today, that's because you were planting seeds. Just keep on working and trust the process; that's how we all get better at what we do.

You have had what seems like an ideal first three years after college and all you see are negatives. Have you learned anything in that time? From what you've described, I would think plenty. A very efficient process that not too many others ever get a chance for. That kind of thinking has always worked well for me. This time next year, I hope to hear from you, "How I turned 3 years of sweat into a lifetime of fulfillment.

Find someone who needs something. Start building it. Trust that when you need to learn something, you will. First, you will automatically triage your lessons; you will learn what you need, not what someone else who probably doesn't know thinks you need. Second, almost all the "data" you will need in this education is easily available and free. Third, for the education you need from other people, you will begin building a network you'll need anyway. And finally, this is exactly what you'll have to do "whether or not you get any more formal education", so just skip the unnecessary step and get on with on.

From your own self description, you already have way more formal education than you need. At this point, the cream rises to the challenge regardless of education. Save your money for living expenses and start-up expenses. You'll probably need it. Best wishes! But please understand that business and academia are 2 different animals with only a little overlap. I have lots of education and lots of practical work experience, and I have to be careful "when" to apply my formal education, which isn't often.

At an alumni event, they presented their business case and web site. It was very interesting. At the end, a business professor summed things up. Not a single thing he said made any sense or had anything to do with the presentation. I wondered if he had even watched it. Get your education.

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