Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses

Categories, morphological features, and slang in the graffiti of a United States Western University

Manuel Breva Claramonte, José Ignacio García Alonso


In this paper, we delineate some aspects of the language of graffiti from a corpus (250 pages) gathered in the Spring of 1991 at the Campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder. Our purpose is to examine the language of graffiti going beyond a simple grouping of inscriptions. This paper includes an outline of the social significance and categories of wall and desk top inscriptions. It covers the peculiar and idiosyncratic spellings observable in graffiti. It discusses abbreviations, acronyms, clippings, play on words, and rhymes. It contains an analysis of slang expressions such as compounds with head and drug terminology. Finally, it examines new derivational formations which will probably never acquire dictionary status and new meanings common among students. In sum, our corpus reveals that students are quite creative linguistically and graffiti amply illustrates how human speech changes and evolves continually.


Graffiti; Lenguaje popular; Estilística; Argot; Estados Unidos


Copyright (c) 1993 Manuel Breva Claramonte, José Ignacio García Alonso

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