Secret Language: Codes, Tricks, Spies, Thieves, and Symbols [NOOK Book]

Overview

This book is about language designed to mean what it does not seem to mean. Ciphers and codes conceal messages and protect secrets. Symbol and magic hide meanings to imperil or delight. Languages made to baffle and confuse let insiders talk openly without being understood by those beyond the circle. Barry Blake looks in depth at these and many more. He explores the history and uses of the slangs and argots of schools and trades. He traces the histories of centuries-old cants ...
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Secret Language: Codes, Tricks, Spies, Thieves, and Symbols

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Overview

This book is about language designed to mean what it does not seem to mean. Ciphers and codes conceal messages and protect secrets. Symbol and magic hide meanings to imperil or delight. Languages made to baffle and confuse let insiders talk openly without being understood by those beyond the circle. Barry Blake looks in depth at these and many more. He explores the history and uses of the slangs and argots of schools and trades. He traces the histories of centuries-old cants such as
those used by sailors and criminals, among them polari, the mix of Italian, Yiddish, and slang spoken once among strolling players and circus folk and then taken up by groups in London. He examines the sacred languages of ancient cults and religions, uncovers the workings of onomancy, spells, and
gematria, considers the obliqueness of allusion and parody, and celebrates the absurdities of euphemism and jargon.

Secret Language takes the reader on fascinating excursions down obscure byways of language, ranging across time and culture. With revelations on every page it will entertain everyone with an urge to know more about the most arcane and curious uses of language.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Intriguing. It is good to have a book that gives you something to ponder without being ponderous itself. And it can be recommended in particular to anyone disposed to find language itself, as such, a source of pleasure."--InsideHigherEd.com

"Covers a lot of ground. Reminds us that the rehearsal of that moment when concealing becomes revealing is a powerful resource-one might even reserve the word divine for it."--TheNation.com

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780191614712
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford
  • Publication date: 3/25/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,045,323
  • File size: 20 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Barry J. Blake is Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at La Trobe University. His books include Playing with Words and All About Language.

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Table of Contents

1. On Being Mysterious
2. From Anagrams to Cryptic Crosswords
3. Talking in Riddles
4. Ciphers and Codes
5. Biblical Secrets
6. Words of Power
7. Words to Avoid
8. Jargon, Slang, and 'Secret Languages'
9. The Everyday oblique
10. Elusive Allusions
11. Finale
Appendix
Select Bibliography
Index

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