This rollercoaster ride through the colorful history of slang—from highwaymen to hip-hop—is a fresh and exciting take on the subject: entertaining and authoritative without being patronizing, out-of-touch or voyeuristic.
Slang is the language of pop culture, low culture, street culture, underground movements and secret societies; depending on your point of view, it is a badge of honor, a sign of identity or a dangerous assault on the values of polite society. Of all the vocabularies available to us, slang is the most alive, constantly evolving and—as it leaks into the mainstream and is taken up by all of us—infusing the language with a healthy dose of vitality.
Witty, energetic and informative Vulgar Tongues traces the many routes of slang, beginning with the thieves and prostitutes of Elizabethan London and ending with the present day, where the centuries-old terms rap and hip-hop still survive, though their meanings have changed. On the way we will meet Dr. Johnson, World War II flying aces, pickpockets, schoolchildren, hardboiled private eyes, carnival geeks and the many eccentric characters who have tried to record slang throughout its checkered past.
If you’re curious about flapdragons and ale passion, the changing meanings of punk and geek, or how fly originated on the streets of eighteenth-century London and square in Masonic lodges, this is the book for you.
Max Décharné is a writer and musician. He writes about music regularly for Mojo magazine, where he is their chief authority on the subject of rockabilly music, which he has followed and played since the 1970s. His work has also appeared in the Sunday Times (London), the Times Literary Supplement among others. He is the author of six previous books including Hardboiled Hollywood: The True Crime Stories that Inspired the Great Noir Films (Pegasus) and Straight from the Fridge, Dad: A Dictionary of Hipster Slang (Broadway). He lives in England.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Mark of a Decadent Mind 1
Slang Origins: Vagabond Speech and Rogue's Latin 27
1 The Beast with Two Backs 57
2 The Oldest Profession 78
3 This Bag of Bones 96
4 Polari Missiles 123
5 Here's to Crime 151
6 Tails You Booze 177
7 High as a Kite 200
8 Dig that Sound 228
9 It Takes a Record Company with Millions to Push Us Forward 255
Nobody asked questions, nobody demanded money. Villagers lied, covered up, procrastinated, and concealed, but most
importantly they welcomed.This is the story of an isolated community in the upper reaches of the Loire Valley that conspired to save the lives of ...
It has been one hundred years since Agatha Christie wrote her first novel and created
the formidable Hercule Poirot. A brilliant and award winning biographer, Laura Thompson now turns her sharp eye to Agatha Christie. Arguably the greatest crime writer ...
From the moment radiation was discovered in the late nineteenth century, nuclear science has had
a rich history of innovative scientific exploration and discovery, coupled with mistakes, accidents, and downright disasters. Mahaffey, a long-time advocate of continued nuclear research and ...
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson traverse the British Isles and the Italian peninsula in a
rousing new series of adventures.After a thrilling jaunt in the far east, Holmes and Watson return to England to address an inheritance left by one ...
London, 1884.125 Gower Street, the residence of Sidney Grice, London’s foremost personal detective, and his
ward March Middleton, is at peace. Midnight discussions between the great man and his charge have led to a harmony unseen in these hallowed halls ...
The fish-out-of-water stories of Northern Exposure and Doc Martin meet the rough-and-rugged setting of the
Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People in Thomas J. Sims’s On Call in the Arctic, where the author relates his incredible experience saving lives in one ...
Inspired by the twenty-three tales, Matthew Dennison takes a selection of quotations from Potter's stories
and uses them to explore her multi-faceted life and character: repressed Victorian daughter; thwarted lover; artistic genius; formidable countrywoman. They chart her transformation from a ...
Together with Red Sky at Noon and One Night in Winter for the first time
in a rich new edition, Sashenka launches the critically acclaimed Moscow Trilogy, where the love and intrigue, betrayal and fear, war, revolution and terror of twentieth ...