Vulgar Tongues: An Alternative History of English Slang

 
9781846685613: Vulgar Tongues: An Alternative History of English Slang

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.

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About the Author:

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.

Review:

“Décharné’s mind is a trivia trap of the first order, and the book is a bracing historical tour of the lexicons of sex, prostitution, crime, alcohol, drugs, popular music and military slang. The most significant achievement of this book is to show how closely related some of our offensive, obscene and informal language really is.”
- The New York Times Book Review

“A triumph of philological research and mordant social commentary.”
- Washington Post

“Whether discussing Geoffrey Chaucer or Johnny Depp’s tattoos, Mr. De´charne´ proves, as he might put it, hip to the tip. He has stretched his lunch-hooks into some unlikely places in his quest for curious argot, and there’s a whole lot of bizarre information in his fusebox (or his idea pot, if you prefer).”
- Wall Street Journal

“A fascinating study. Décharné makes it absolutely clear that [slang] moves in waves through time from commonly expressed, to underground or forbidden, to aboveground again.”
- Counterpunch

“A breathtaking history and overview of English slang. Along with collections focused on linguistics and the history of the English language, this well-written volume will be of interest to general readers and others curious about popular culture. Highly recommended.”
- Library Journal (starred)

“Lovers of language will be engrossed by Décharné’s excavation of the history of English-language slang. A well-stocked and exhaustively researched compendium.”
- Publishers Weekly

“An erudite miscellany that tracks centuries of playful mutations endured by the English language. Bawdy and jive.”
- Kirkus Reviews

“A spectacular feat, collating information from a mind-boggling range of sources―from jazz lyrics to dime novels, from 18th-century brothel directories to 1960s criminal autobiographies.”
- Lynn Truss, New Statesman

“The chapters range over sex, crime, booze, drugs, war, politics, the armed forces, schools, everywhere that private languages develop and thrive. There are many good stories, and his chapters on music slang are the best.”
- The Times (UK)

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Book Description Profile Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2016. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Main. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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 honour, 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 ll meet Dr Johnson, World War Two flying aces, pickpockets, schoolchildren, hardboiled private eyes, carnival geeks and the many eccentric characters who have tried to record slang throughout its chequered 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. Bookseller Inventory # AA99781846685613

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