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Exercises. I. The italicized words and word-groups in the following extracts are informal

I. The italicized words and word-groups in the following extracts are informal. Write them out in two columns and explain in each case why you consider the word slang/col­loquial. Look up any words you do not know in your dictio­nary.

l. T h e Flower Girl. ... Now you are talking! I thought you'd come off it when you saw a chance of getting back a bit of what you chucked at me last night. (Confidentially.) You'd had a drop in, hadn't you? 2. L i z a. What call would a woman with that strength in her have to die of influenza? What become of her new straw hat that should have come to me? Somebody pinched it; and what I say is, them as pinched
it done her in.

M r s. Eynsfordhill. What does doing her in mean?

H i g g i n s (hastily). Oh, thats the new small talk. To do a person in means to kill them.

3. Higgins. I've picked up a girl.

M r s. H i g g i n s. Does that mean that some girl has picked you up?

H i g g i n s. Not at all. I don't mean a love affair.

M r s. H i g g i n s. What a pity!

(From Pygmalion by B. Shaw)

4. My wife has been kiddin' me about my friends ever since we were married. She says that ... they ain't nobody in the world got a rummier bunch of friends than me. I'll admit that the most of them ain't, well, what you might call hot; they're different somehow than when I first hung around with them. They seem to be lost without a brass rail to rest their dogs on. But of course they are old friends and I can't give them the air.

(From Short Stories by R. Lardner)



II. a. Read the following extract.

A young man, Freddie by name, had invited a pretty young girl April to a riverside picnic. April could not come and sent her little sister to keep Freddie company.


It was naturally with something of a pang that Fred­die tied the boat up at their destination. ... The only liv­ing thing for miles around appeared to be an elderly horse which was taking a snack on the river-bank. In other words, if only April had been there and the kid hadn't, they would have been alone together with no human eye to intrude upon their sacred solitude. They could have read Tennyson to each other till they were blue in the face, and not a squawk from a soul.

... Still, as the row had given him a nice appetite, he soon dismissed these wistful yearnings and started un­packing the luncheon-basket. And at the end of about twenty minutes he felt that it would not be amiss to chat with his little guest.

"Had enough?" he asked.

"No," said the kid. "But there isn't any more."

"You seem to tuck away your food all right."

"The girls at school used to call me Teresa the Tape­worm," said the kid with a touch of pride.

It suddenly struck Freddie as a little odd that with July only half over this child should be at large. The summer holidays, as he remembered it, always used to start round about the first of August.

"Why aren't you at school now?"

"I was bunked last month."

"Really?" said Freddie, interested. "They gave you the push, did they? What for?"

"Shooting pigs."

"Shooting pigs?"

"With a bow and arrow. One pig, that is to say. Percival. He belonged to Miss Maitland, the headmistress. Do you ever pretend to be people in books?"

"Never. And don't stray from the point at issue. I want to get to the bottom of this thing about the pig."

"I'm not straying from the point at issue. I was play­ing William Tell."

"The old apple-knocker, you mean?"

"The man who shot an apple off his son's head. I tried to get one of the girls to put the apple on her head, but she wouldn't, so I went down to the pigsty and put it on Percival's. And the silly goop shook it off and started to eat it just as I was shooting, which spoiled my aim and I got him on the left ear. He was rather vexed about it. So was Miss Maitland. Especially as I was supposed to be in disgrace at the time, because I had set the dormitory on fire the night before.

"Freddie blinked a bit.

"You set the dormitory on fire?"


"Any special reason, or just a passing whim?"

"I was playing Florence Nightingale."

"Florence Nightingale?"

"The Lady with the Lamp. I dropped the lamp."

"Tell me," said Freddie. "This Miss Maitland of yours. What colour is her hair?"


"I thought as much."

(From Young Men in Spats by P. G. Wodehouse)

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