From: K Montin ( kmontin@total.net)
Date: 19 May 2002

Eric Partridge, mentioned here recently, was famous for A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English: Colloquialisms and Catch-phrases, Solecisms and Catachreses, Nicknames and Vugarisms. I got the 8th ed.
(1984, updated by Paul Beale), hardcover, half price some time ago (C$35). He was also the author of Origins, A Dictionary of the Underworld, A Dictionary of Cliché³ and The Gentle Art of Lexicography.

This fantastic 1400-page slang dictionary has lots of etymology, lots of anecdotal reports on usage and lots of rhyming slang, though not in a separate section. It's heavier on Commonwealth than US usage. There are 25 pages worth of special appendixes on, to give just a few examples, Australian Underworld Terms Current in 1975, slang of various English public schools, including Winchester (which comes up in Le Carr駳 Our Game), a couple of different kinds of army slang and back slang.

A short entry on Cockney speech gives as references the following:

Julian Franklyn, The Cockney, 1953, 2nd ed. 1954 Robert Baltrop & Jim Wolveridge, The Muvver Tongue, 1980 Jim Wolveridge's pamphlet, He Don't Know 'A' from a Bull's Foot [n.d.]

I've also got the very good New Dictionary of American Slang, Robert L. Chapman, Harper & Row, 1986, which naturally enough does not have much in the way of British, Australian, Irish or Canadian content. I think I saw a newer edition at someone's house.

An historical reference, and good for a laugh, is 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence, facsimile ed., Northfield, IL: Digest Books, 1971.

Incidentally, none of these sources defines bird as penis.

Colin mentioned the OED being expensive. I find the cheap (about C$35) Concise Oxford is very good on meaning, but not etymology. Grass is in there, for example, but not with the grasshopper-copper connection.

On Fri, 17 May 2002, DJ-Anonyme@webtv.net (Mark Sullivan) wrote:

>A while ago, Colin wrote:
>"I'm sure I'm being an old stick-in-the-mud but modern slang (and I
>don't spend much time in prison yards either) doesn't seem as inventive
>as classic cockney rhymning slang, of which there are several
>fascinating dictionaries and histories."
>Colin, can you give any titles and/or authors? I've long wanted to know
>more and more about rhyming slang, in particular.


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