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Топик: Polari - English gay slang

Топик: Polari - English gay slang

The final 1st year paper by Valeria Grinevitch

The History of Polari

Polari (also seen as 'Palare') is a gay slang language, which has now almost died out.

Gay slang in Britain dates back to the involvement of the homosexual subculture with the criminal "underworld". The homosexual subculture of the Eighteenth Century mixed with the gypsies, tramps & thieves of popular song to produce a rich cross-fertilisation of customs, phrases and traditions. As the Industrial revolution dramatically changed settlement patterns, more and more people drifted away from villages and small communities and moved to larger towns in search of work and opportunity. In these larger urban locations, the scope for the development of communities of outcasts substantially increased. The growth of molly houses (private spaces for men to meet, drink, have sex together and practice communal rituals) encouraged the creation of a molly identity. A linguistic culture developed, feeding into that profession traditionally associated with poofs and whores: theatre.

When I started to research Polari, it was difficult to find any written material about Polari as what little used to exist was out of print. However, in the last few years, more and more people have been finding out about it, and several web sites and magazine articles have been written.

Polari featured heavily in the "Julian and Sandy" sketches on the BBC radio program "Round the Horne" in the late 60s, and this is how a lot of people first heard of Polari. A few words like 'bona' can still be seen in gay publications, used for camp effect. There are even hairdressers in London and Brighton called "Bona Riah".

Polari itself was never clearly defined: an ever-changing collection of slang from various sources including Italian, English (backwards slang, rhyming slang), circus slang, canal-speak, Yiddish and Gypsy languages. It is impossible to tell which slang words are real Polari.

Linguists still argue about where it came from. The larger part of its vocabulary is certainly Italian in origin, but nobody seems to know how the words got into Britain. Some experts say its origins lie in the lingua franca of the shores of the Mediterranean, a pidgin in use in the Middle Ages and afterwards as a medium of communication between sailors and traders from widely different language groups, the core of this language being Italian and Occitan. Quite a number of British sailors learnt the lingua franca. On returning home and retiring from the sea it is supposed that many of them became vagabonds or travellers, because they had no other means of livelihood; this threw them into contact with roving groups of entertainers and fairground people, who picked up some of the pidgin terms and incorporated them into their own canting private vocabularies.

However, other linguists point to the substantial number of native Italians who came to Britain as entertainers in the early part of the nineteenth century, especially the Punch and Judy showmen, organ grinders and peddlars of the 1840s. Much of parlarey, the travelling showmen's language, appears to be derived from the lingua franca or the vocabulary of travelling actors and showmen during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. Specifically theatrical parlyaree included phrases such as joggering omee (street musician), slang a dolly to the edge (to show and work a marionette on a small platform outside the performance booth in order to attract an audience) and climb the slanging-tree (perform onstage). Nanty dinarly (having no money) also had a peculiarly theatrical translation in the phrase "There's no treasury today, the ghost doesn't walk."

The disappearance of large numbers of traveling costermongers and cheapjacks by the early twentieth century effectively denied the language its breathing space. As many of the travelling entertainers moved sideways into traveling circus, so the language moved with them, kept alive as a living and changing language within circus culture.
By the mid-twentieth century, there had also been a cross-over to a recognisably gay form of slang, with polari used by the gay community to communicate in code in elaborate forms. Words such as trade and ecaf (backslang for face, shortened to eek) became part of gay subculture. Blagging trade (picking up sexual partners), zhoosing your riah (doing your hair), trolling to a bijou bar (stepping into a gay club) and dishing the dirt (recounting gossip) all became popular coded phrases to describe and encode an emerging homosexual lifestyle. By the 1950's, with secret homosexual clubs emerging in swinging London and the Wolfenden Committee discussing the possibility of law reform around (homo) sexuality, it seems appropriate that polari should raise its irreverent head.
Polari became an appropriate tool with which to confuse and confound the naff omees (straight men). It traveled the world via the sea queens, who incorporated navy slang into a new version of the language and also accommodated local dialects and phrases.

But Polari is a linguistic mongrel. Words from Romany (originally an Indian dialect), Shelta (the cant of the Irish tinkers), Yiddish, back slang, rhyming slang and other non-standard English are interspersed with words of Italian origin.

So it would not be surprising to find that both the Italian showman and the lingua franca theories are right, each contributing words at different stages in Polari's development. This might indeed explain the substantial number of synonyms noted at various times. However, the vocabulary is not well recorded, and now may never be, because it was normal until quite recently for linguists to ignore such low-life forms, which rarely turned up in print (and then only in partial glossaries). But we do know that a few of Polari's terms have made it across the language barrier into semi-standard English, much of it seeming to come to us via Cockney: karsey, a lavatory; mankey, poor, bad or tasteless; ponce, a pimp; savvy to know, understand; and scarper to run away.

The rest have stayed within the theatrical and circus worlds, and have also been incorporated particularly into the private languages of some homosexual groups, as Julian and Sandy make very clear. Some writers have sought to claim Polari exclusively for the gay community, renaming it Gayspeak. In the 1990s it certainly seems to be heavily used by some city-based British gays (but only male gays, not lesbians), who have invented new terms like nante 'andbag for "no money" (handbag here being a self-mocking example of metonymy). However, it can scarcely have always been so, unless every fairground showman, circus performer, strolling player, cheapjack and Punch and Judy man in history was gay, which seems somewhat unlikely.

The final 1st year paper by Valeria Grinevitch

An American Polari

Ms. Martha Brummett of Denver, Colorado, has collected certain words in the United States which appear to have a connection with Polari. The table following these remarks represents her own collection along with her glosses. She collected these in Memphis, Tennessee, which is on the Mississippi river. Not all the words are to be regarded as Polari, but I have preferred to cite this vocabulary as she conveyed it, as it is of interest in any case. Here are her comments as to how she came to collect these items. They would appear to belong to the words conveyed by circus folk:

My older friends had traveled extensively, at least when young, to New York, San Francisco, at least. They went to New Orleans frequently. Some of them had been in the Navy, Merchant Marine, or Coast Guard. The older ones had served in WWI or WWII, and had been to the UK or Europe.
The vocabulary I remember was not as extensive as I've seen reported, and was mostly sexual. I can recall (using the wordlist) hearing: Aunt Nell, barkey, bene, bevvy, bod, bold, bona, camp, chicken, cottage, deek (never vada), drag, facha (never heard "eek" or "ecaf", by the way), gam, grope, multy, nada, nix (never nanti), palaver, pogy, ponce, punk, rent, trade.

You can see that the Lingua Franca-derived terms, particularly the ones not very sexual, give the impression of being Italian...
"Facha" was always used, as I pointed out. I recall other instances of what I assumed was Italian picked up from the Sicilian immigrants to the area, both to the Memphis metropolitan area and the rural counties of northern Mississippi. I think there might be a great deal of difficulty in actually distinguishing these possible origins…
I worked lights for Lillie Cass' drag show, this higher education gained from that and listening to guys talk at bars, after Poetry Society meetings, backstage at bars & community theatres, my grandmother's male antique-dealer colleagues, carnies [=circus-workers] privately and at second-hand bookstores and coffeehouses...

The final 1st year paper by Valeria Grinevitch

Bona Contention - Gay Times

January 2001

Polari, the gay slang used by Julian and Sandy in Round The Horne, is to gay men what Latin is to Catholics - a dead language. So why did it die out? asks Paul Baker. And is there any point in remembering it now?

Round The Horne was tremendously popular, attracting about 9 million listeners a week. And every week, thanks to Polari, Julian and Sand made a mockery of the BBC's censors. For example, in one episode, they are domestic helps and have been shown into a kitchen where they are expected to get to work. "I can't work in 'ere," complains Julian. "All the dishes are dirty!" "Ooh speak for yourself, ducky!" retorts Sandy.

This is a clever triple innuendo. The audience would probably get the use of the word dish as an attractive young man, as in "Isn't he dishy?", but hardened Polari speakers also know that dish means anus, which would afford them an extra special laugh.

Julian and Sandy were subversive in other ways too. At a time when most of the other fictional gay men and lesbians in the media usually ended up killing themselves in the final reel, this cheerfully unapologetic pair of queens made for a refreshing change.

Their use of Polari followed a long tradition - it had been known by gay men in the U.K. for decades. But fast forward a few years and Polari has almost vanished from gay circles. Mention it now and you'll more likely than not to get a blank look, especially from anyone under 30. And those who do profess to have heard of it are likely to only know a handful of words.

It's impossible to pinpoint an exact date when Polari came into existence. It most likely arose from a type of 19th century slang called Parlyaree which was used by fairground and circus people as well as prostitutes, beggars and buskers. Many of these travelling people worked all over Europe, and as a result a fair number of the old Parlyaree words resembled Italian. The music halls of the 19th Century eventually replaced these wandering entertainers, and out of music halls developed the theatre. Parlyaree gradually morphed into Polari (or Palare as it was earlier known), being picked up by gay actors and dancers - who introduced it onto London's gay scene.

But there were lots of other influences - The East End of London was full of vibrant communities, and so we find bits of Yiddish (schwartzer: black man, schnozzle: nose) coming into Polari. The docks were popular cruising grounds, and gay men would go there to pick up sailors - who had their own slang called Lingua Franca. As a result, bits of Lingua Franca appear in Polari. Then throw in some Cockney Rhyming Slang and the less well-known backslang - the practice of saying a word as if it's spelt backwards (hair = riah, face=ecaf). Finally, in World War II add some American terms (butch, cruise) as gay men befriended and entertained homesick American G.I.s, and then throw in a few words stolen from 1960s drug culture (doobs: drugs, randy comedown: a desire for sex after taking drugs) for good measure. The result is a complex, constantly changing form of language which appears slightly different to whoever uses it.

Polari flourished in the repressive 1950s, where the control of post-war sexual morality was viewed as a priority and prosecutions against gay men reached record levels. Under these unpleasant conditions, gay men were subjected to a variety of horrors. Electroshock treatment, imprisonment, blackmail, hormones that made men grow breasts - the medical and legal professions got their knickers in such a twist trying to find newer and more evil ways to torture gay men throughout the 50s. As being openly gay was dangerous, the need for a language that protected gay men, and at the same time acted as a kind of "gaydar" by allowing them to recognise others, was extremely useful.

By the 1960s, the political situation had begun to change. Polari was used less to cautiously "out" yourself, and more for chatting with friends. Its vocabulary - full of words to do with clothing (lally-drags: trousers, ogle-fakes: spectacles) and parts of the body (thews: arms, luppers: fingers) and evaluative adjectives (bona: good, cod: bad), reflects what it was most often used for - gossiping about potential sexual partners with your mates, while your target was in earshot. "Vada that bona omee ajax - the one with nanti riah!" translates to "Look at that nice man over there - the one with no hair!" Use it in the club, or on the tube - you could spill all of the details about what you got up to last night, without anyone being the wiser.

However, in the 1970s, Polari started to fade from people's memories. Julian and Sandy had represented a swan-song of sorts in any case. In 1967 (the same year that Round the Horne was at its peak, winning the award for best comedy radio programme), the legal situation for the average gay man was improved with the implementation of the Wolfenden Report’s recommendations of ten years earlier. Homosexuality was partially decriminalised (although there were still a variety of ways that men could be prosecuted for having gay sex), and as a result, there was less of a need for a secret language. In addition to that, Julian and Sandy gave Polari a kind of doomed respectability - they had inadvertently blurted out the secret via the radio, into 9 million homes a week. What was the point of using Polari when Aunt Beryl listened to Round The Horne and was able to get the gist of what you were saying?

And ultimately, there were political reasons for ditching Polari - it was associated with oppression, and the early Gay Liberationists wanted to put all of that behind them. It was rather easy to criticise Polari as being sexist, racist and brimming over with internalised homophobia. Gay magazines of the early 70s are quick to cast Polari as keeping gay men in a ghetto. One writer warns that gay culture is going to become consumed by a "language of body parts ". And Polari, with its camp bitchy overtones was so last decade, don't you know? This was the era when harmless, much-loved John Inman was picketed outside Brighton's Dome Hall by gay men for "contributing to the television distortion of the image of homosexuals".

By the beginning of the 1980s, Polari had all but vanished from the gay scene, and in place of the fey Polari speakers, were American influences - butch was in, and the Malboro Man look - muscles, leather, denim, facial hair, uniforms, big boots etc. became fashionable. The clone was born, and with minor modifications still exists today. Suddenly going to the gym became a popular pastime and the gay scene was in danger of becoming populated with butch Marys who took their masculinity and muscle tone ever-so seriously. Butch gay men aren't supposed to speak Polari - instead they grunt and show you a coloured handkerchief so you know what they're into.

However, in the 1990s, the situation changes again. With more people becoming relaxed about sexuality, Polari is undergoing a revival of interest. It's now possible to view it as part of gay heritage - a weapon that was used to fight oppression, and something that gay men can be proud of again. Camp is no longer viewed as apolitical - for example, the London branch of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence use "High Polari" in their blessings, sermons and canonisations - adding a bit of religious mystique while also acknowledging gay history within their ceremonies. And anyone who wants to add some authentic mid-20th century atmosphere in their film, book or play or pop song about gay men can drop a few words of Polari into their script for instant credibility (see Love Is The Devil, The Velvet Goldmine or Morrissey's Piccadilly Palare for examples). Polari has become a short-hand to represent being gay in the '50s or '60s in the same way that a hula hoop or a space-hopper represents the 1970s.

However, Polari still occupies a controversial position in the hearts of contemporary gay men. Last year a phone debate in a gay free-sheet unearthed a number of conflicting, and at times strange attitudes towards it. Some callers were quick to dismiss Polari as camp nonsense, only spoken by unfashionable people who lived "in the sticks" (i.e. outside London). Such words are "neither useful, relevant or reflect the queer society we live in today," complained one caller. Others argued that it was harmless fun, and to ignore Polari is to do an injustice to the men and women who lived through more oppressive times. The free-sheet joined in, labeling Polari as "evil".

It's unlikely that Polari will ever be revived to the extent that it was used in the 50s - but that's no shame. Without realising it, many of the words that people consider to be "gay slang" were once part of Polari's lexicon - chicken, trade, butch, camp, cottage etc. These words, which are more useful in describing gay experiences because they don't have straight equivalents, have survived while other words like lally: legs, poll: wig, order: go etc. have fallen into disuse. That's not to say that it can't be fun to use them occasionally. Speaking a few words of Polari is hardly going to cause a pair of Larry Grayson glasses on a chain to magically appear around your neck. And in any case, little bits of Polari have even been incorporated into mainstream slang. For example - the word naff was originally used as a Polari acronym meaning "Not Available For F..". Now it simply refers to something that's tasteless. Clearly, those poor confused straights must have heard it - "oh don't bother with him, he's naff!", inferred it meant something bad, and started using it themselves - not realising that the word was originally an insult hurled at them.

So while it's important that a situation never arises where gay men need to use a secret language again, we do ourselves no favours by distancing ourselves completely from Polari. From the initial 1960s media representations of effeminate, camp gay man, through to the hyper-masculine alternatives created by the gay subculture in the 1970s, the recent years have seen a resurgence and a reappraisal of both identities. Distinctions between the two, however, are now more blurred than ever. And while gay still means something different from straight, there continues to be a place for Polari.


Paul Baker, 2001

The final 1st year paper by Valeria Grinevitch


1.Note UK statistics

2.My own researching Polari my way of researching

3.The history of Polari

4.An American Polari Ms. Martha Brummett researching

5.Researching Polari an article Paul Baker wrote for Lancaster University's student magazine "Scan" dated 15th November 1996.

6.Bona Contention an article Paul Baker wrote for Gay Times dated January 2001


The final 1st year paper by Valeria Grinevitch

My own researching Polari

Since writing the above, I am horrified to find so much that is misleading. For one thing, apparently it is impossible to talk of "gay language" anymore. It's just "not allowed" in society. There are as many ways to be gay as there are gay people. We can't just all be lumped together and then told that we have a "language". And just what is meant by "gay" anyway? Oh, it's so confusing to a simple boy from a council estate in the northeast.

Then, and apparently this is even more scary - simply describing Polari in itself isn't going to get us anywhere. We have to consider it in terms of "gay identities" (note the plural here), or rather, how do Polari speakers use Polari in order to construct or perform an identity based upon an alternative gender (to the one that men are usually assigned)? And this is where it gets difficult because it's really hard to find any examples of Polari, other than the Julian and Sandy tapes (which were made up), a number of (different) lexicons, and some interviews of gay and lesbians talking about Polari (but not talking in Polari unless they're giving examples). It's a bit like trying to tell someone what water is like, when you've never tasted it yourself, but other people have told you about it.

So I'll be having to "make do" with secondary sources of data for the most part. Hopefully, each kind of data has its own kind of validity, and taken together, each part will be able to show up something exciting about Polari

But is Polari dead anyway? Well, no, not that dead. The London Order of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (a group of gay men who dress as nuns in order to combine the political with the comedic) have started using Polari in their ceremonies - in order to lend spiritual weight to such occasions. For the Sisters, Polari is to gay men what Latins is to Catholics. However, from what I know of these events, the Polari that is used is as scripted as the Polari employed by Julian and Sandy - and even more bizarre - it's in the form of a monologue: a long way from its original bitchy, gossipy, cruisy usage in the bars, clubs and buses of 1950s/60s London. Then again, Polari has never remained the same thing for very long, as the lexica can testify. Perhaps the appropriation of it by the Sisters is simply a postmodern revival?

The final 1st year paper by Valeria Grinevitch


United Kingdom

58,210,000 (1995). United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Literacy rate 97% to 99%. Also includes Assyrian Neo-Aramaic 5,000, Bengali, Hakka Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Yue Chinese, Western Farsi 12,000, Greek 200,000, Gujarati 140,000, Hindi, Italian 200,000, Japanese 12,000, Kurmanji 6,000, Malayalam, Panjabi, Pashto, Saraiki, Shelta 30,000, Somali, Sylhetti 100,000, Tamil, Turkish 60,000, Urdu, Vietnamese 22,000, 74,000 from the Philippines, 150,000 Arabic (Iraqi, Moroccan, Yemeni), others from Ghana, Nigeria, Guyana, West Indies.

Data accuracy estimate: B. Christian, secular, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu.

Blind population 116,414.

Deaf population 909,000 (1977 Deuchar). Deaf institutions: 468 in England, 2 in Northern Ireland, 14 in Scotland, 34 in Wales.

The number of languages listed for United Kingdom is 15. Of those, 12 are living languages, 1 is a second language without mother tongue speakers, and 2 are extinct.

POLARI Unclassified. An in-group language among theatrical and circus people. Survey needed.

The final 1st year paper by Valeria Grinevitch

Researching Polari

A sunny morning in September finds me sitting in the below stairs kitchen of Rowland House, Brighton waiting to interview David Raven (also known as Maisie Trollette) about Polari. Forget The Lost Language of the Cranes (whatever that was), The Lost Language of Polari is far more interesting, and it's part of the topic of my PhD - The Language of Gay Men in the UK, 1750-1996.

It's not the easiest thing in the world doing a PhD which immediately makes you "out". Whenever people ask me what subject I'm studying I still say it with an apologetic shrug. There's no need to say afterwards "So that's my topic sweet-heart, and if you don't like it then that's your problem, and you're gonna have to live with that, OK?, in-yer-face-queer-rights-NOW!" The message is implicitly stated anyway.

Reactions I've received have ranged from an incredulous "You gotta be kidding me" from a very loud American to the PC-interest of "That is soooo interesting". Is it interesting? Is it useful? Well I think so. The exact origins and mechanics of Polari are still a linguistic mystery, and language is an area where gay people are given free rein to flex their creative muscles and create social exchanges that although might not be very friendly (to outsiders or to each other) it at least allows them to communicate on their own terms. Such was the motivation behind Polari, although it could also be to do with the fact that in the 1950s if you so much as wore white socks in those days the police would have you clapped in irons for being "deviant".

Polari, as the language came to be known was a collection of words, which when strung together by those most proficient at it, were incomprehensible to those who didn't understand it. It was mainly used for conversations that were high in gay "content", so if you wanted to point out to your friend that the man on the tube train next to you seemed to be particularly well-developed in the "menswear" department, you could say "vada the bona cartes on the ommee ajax" and your friend would know what you meant. If the man with the big "cartes" was also gay, he'd know what you were talking about too, and Polari would serve as an "introduction" which could lead to "other things".

Because Polari died out in the 1960s when the Wolfenden Report legalised homosexuality (to an extent) in England, the only people who remember it tend to be distinguished older gentlemen, just like David Raven, who has agreed to tell me all he can remember about it. I am armed with a tape-recorder, a pen, some bits of paper and a posh northern voice (although I can flatten my vowels if necessary).

David still frequently performs as Maisie Trollette in Brighton, and is something of a "doyenne" on the gay scene there. He greets me with "Who’s the chicken?" and then starts arguing with three of his employees who are dubbed "evil witches." When things have calmed down I am taken into the dining room where we can conduct the interview in peace. However, his friends don't seem to want to leave us alone, and are constantly passing through to offer their opinions and questions ("Who is he? Is he an actor?") .

Polari is never what it first appears. Before Kenneth Williams was a household name with Carry-on Whatever, he was a household name in the radio series "Round the Horne" which every week featured the antics of Julian and Sandy and their latest attempts at trying to earn a bit of trade with Bona Homes and Gardens, or Keep Britain Bona. In one episode, J + S are domestic helps and have been shown into a kitchen where they are expected to get to work. "I can't work in 'ere," complains Julian. "All the dishes are dirty!" "Speak for yourself ducky," remarks Sandy, to audience mirth. However, this is a very clever (and smutty) triple innuendo. The audience would probably "get" the use of the word dish as an attractive young man, as in "Isn't he dishy", but hardened Polari speakers also know that dish means anus, which would afford them an extra laugh.

It's a shame that Polari did go out of fashion, even though its demise coincided with the beginnings of gay liberation in England. Still, it's nice to hear the odd Polari word occasionally: Julian Clary on his BBC2 show sometimes says "Let's have a vada" and a crop of new gay businesses are opening up around the country, with fondly-devised names like Bona Videos. As Julian and Sandy would say "Fantabulosa!"


This is a copy of an article Paul Baker wrote for Lancaster University's student magazine "Scan" dated 15th November 1996.

The final 1st year paper by Valeria Grinevitch





Alternate Spellings

Part of Speech

Original Language

Orig Form


water acqua n It , LF Acqua, akwa




Alternate Spellings


Original Language

Original Form


sailor - - It barca "boat"


hair (perh. esp. highly coiffured and styled) - n rhyming slang Barnet fair = hair


good bene - It bene "well"


drink bevvy n It bev- "to drink"


small - a Fr -


good bona a It buono

boner nochy

good night - - - -




Alternate Spellings

Pronunci- ation

Part of Speech

Original Language

Original Form


hat, cap capela - n It capella


meat, food carnish ka:niS n It carne "meat"


bad catever - - It cattivo


child - - - Sp chava "girl"


young boy - - - - -





Alternate Spellings

Part of Speech

Original Language

Original Form


money l dinarli n Sp dinero


attractive male dl - - - -


pleasant g - a It dolce, "sweet" -
- smart and attractive young woman h dolly n It dolce, "sweet" -
- - h doll - - -


lady, landlady, woman h dona - It donna




Part of Speech

Original Language


face n E (backwards sp)


face n E (contraction of the above) or


nose n E (based on backward sp)




Alternate Spellings

Part of Speech

Original Language

Original Form


make, do fake n It faccio "I make"


thing, doing, action fakement n It faccio" + Eng '-ment'


face fatcha - It faccia


young feely a It. figlie, children -
- child feele n - -


lodgings, accomodation, house entertainment - - E. prison rhyming slang? flowery dell" = cell ?





Alternate Spellings

Part of Speech

Original Language

Original Form


leg h gam - LF gamba


money dl gelt n Ger. via Yiddish? gelt "gold"


money h gent - It argento "silver"




Alternate Spellings

Part of Speech

Original Language

Original Form


leg lally n usu pl - Anglo- Chinese - lai-lo, "come here"




Alternate Spellings

Original Language

Original Form


bad, poor, tasteless manky It mancare, "lack, want for"


crazy meshigner Heb. via Yiddish meshuga, crazy; meshuggener, crazy man


stage makeup muck It macchia "stain" / Eng. muck




Alternate Spellings

Original Language

Original Form


nothing - Sp. -


bad naff E. acro:


eat, food nanyarie - -


no, nothing, not, don't nanti It niente


no, not, do not nix Ger nichts


night nochy Sp noche (It notte, LF note)




Alternate Spellings

Original Language

Original Form


girl, young woman paloni It pollone "chick"


pound sterling ponte It pondo "weight"


speak Polari It. Parlare (pagliare "to speak" - ph)


virgin male, male homosexual - E punk Sp punto, puto -




Alternate Spellings

Pronunci- ation

Part of Speech

Original Language

Original Form


hair riah rai@ [ri@ ?] n E back spelling -
- - - - - Sp raya "parting in the hair"




Alternate Spellings

Original Language

Original Form



know, understand savvy LF, Port. sabir prob from Pidjin through Eng.


write - It scrivere -


policeman - It cercare + Eng. "sharp" -


wig shykle cf. Yiddish shaytl, sheitel, from Ger. "crown of the head, parting" - -


perform on stage - - - climb the slang-tree, perform on stage


makeup - - - -




Alternate Spellings

Part of Speech

Original Language

Original Form



road tober n Irish (back- formed) bother to tailors and tramps




Alternate Spellings

Part of Speech

Original Language

Original Form


see, look varda v cf. Venetian vardia "a look"


voice voche - It voce


cigarette - - - -




Alternate Spellings

Original Language

Original Form



one una It una



two dewey It due



three tray It tre



four quattro It quattro



five chinker It cinque



six say It sei



seven setter It sette



eight otter It -



nine nobber It 35370



ten daiture It dieci

Polari - A Cinderella Among Languages

The final 1st year paper

by Valeria Grinevitch

gr. 9

The Kaliningrad State University


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