Principle of pithiness in US prison slang

Alicja Dziedzic-Rawska


The present paper introduces ‘the principle of pithiness’ in US prison slang, which assumes that, in order to communicate successfully, prisoners need to use language that is terse and vigorously expressive. Such function is served by figurative language as it is rich in meaning, emotional content, and, simultaneously, is economical in form. Using prison-specific metaphors and metonymies, prisoners provide new quality: without the thorough study of the prison context prison slang is esoteric to the outsider. Therefore, the paper is also a voice for integrating linguistic analysis with that of the context (cf. Kövecses 2015).


prison slang; principle of pithiness; metaphor; metonymy

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Date of publication: 2018-01-02 15:01:02
Date of submission: 2017-04-22 10:30:10


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