‘An invaluable guide to the argot of seventeenth-century low London.’
‘A fascinating insight into a bygone linguistic age.’
‘Gives us a sense of how rich a mine the English language is and how ingenious its users. Slang is eternal.’
Wall Street Journal
Written for the benefit of Ladies, Gentlewomen or any other unskilfull persons, this was not a book for scholars but was aimed squarely at the non-fiction best-seller list of its day. It is a treasure-house of meaning, bristling with arresting and eminently quotable definitions. For example geometrie is the 'art of measuring the earth', and hecticke is 'inflaming the hart, and soundest parts of the bodie', while barbarian is 'a rude person', and a concubine is a 'harlot, or light huswife'.
Written originally for the education of the polite London classes in ‘canting’ – the language of thieves and ruffians – should they be so unlucky as to wander into the ‘wrong’ parts of town, A New Dictionary of Terms, Ancient and Modern, of the Canting Crew by ‘B.E. Gent’ is the first work dedicated solely to the subject of slang words and their meanings. It is also the first text which attempts to show the overlap and integration between canting words and common slang. In its refusal to distinguish between criminal vocabulary and the more ordinary everyday English of the period, it sets canting words side by side with terms used by sailors, labourers, and those in the common currency of domestic culture.
With an introduction by John Simpson, formerly chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, describing the history and culture of canting in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as well as the evolution of English slang, this is a fascinating volume for anyone with a curiosity about language, or wishing to reintroduce ‘Dandyprat’ or ‘Fizzle’ into their everyday conversation.
Anglers, c Cheats, petty Thievs, who have a Stick with a hook at the end, with which they pluck things out of Windows, Grates, &c. also those that draw in People to be cheated.
Dandyprat, a little puny Fellow.
Grumbletonians, Malecontents, out of Humour with the Government, for want of a Place, or having lost one.
Strum, c. a Periwig. Rum-Strum, c. a long Wig; also a handsom Wench, or Strumpet.
- 160 pages, 196 x 129 mm
- ISBN: 9781851243877
- Publication September 2015