Michael Adams,
Slayer Slang:
A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Lexicon

(Oxford University Press, 2003)

As the final frames of Season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer reminded us, "She saved the world. A lot." She and her friends also changed the way fans of the show spoke -- a lot -- due to the clever, snappy dialogue, much of it, according to Jane Espenson's introduction to this book, based on the way Buffy's creator Joss Whedon actually speaks.

In Slayer Slang, linguist Michael Adams takes a look at the show and how Buffy-speak has entered American speech. He contrasts slayer jargon (technical terms related to slayers and slaying) and slayer slang (language that springs up on a secondary level, based partly on the jargon), and then goes into detail about the characteristic language constructions used by Buffy and the Scooby Gang. The second half of the book is a detailed glossary of Buffy-speak, including citations of dialogue from the show or other collection points (including the official WB and UPN posting boards, The Bronze and The Bronze: Beta).

The first half of the book is very technical, probably too technical for the novice to bother to slog through. Even for those interested in language, it gets heavy at times, especially if one isn't a trained linguist. The glossary is the fun part, where the slog through the first half pays off, and the novice will likely choose to skip straight there.

This is not a book I'd recommend for the casual reader; not even the most dedicated BtVS fan would find it easy going. But if you're a fan of both the series and of language, then it's fascinating and entertaining reading.

by Laurie Thayer
30 December 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.