The unspeakable linguistics of camp | Curio

The unspeakable linguistics of camp

16 mins | Jun 24, 2018

Britain's forgotten language. Marginalised by society, gay, lesbian and queer people had to invent their own secret languages. Chi Luu tells us the remarkable history of polari. "Polari (or Parlary, Palarie, as it’s also known, from the Italian 'to talk') is one lost language from Britain that became primarily associated with gay men (and to a lesser extent with lesbians). Its rich, rollicking, madcap patchwork linguistics was cobbled out of the threads of the secret 'anti-languages' used by subcultures on the very edges of society, the low slang used by thieves, itinerant sailors, fishmongers, travelling circus performers, beggars, prostitutes, and (of course) theatre people. Seemingly a linguistic home to everyone from everywhere, it creatively mixed in elements from Elizabethan thieves’ cant, the Italian-influenced carnival speech Parlyaree, Cockney rhyming slang, backwards slang, Yiddish, and Lingua Franca, the sailors’ argot."

publisher logo

From JSTOR Daily