Orwell _Down and Out_ in [Paris and] London

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri May 9 00:28:38 UTC 2008

A bit of a curiosity, perhaps, but Chapter 32 of George Orwell's
_Down and Out in Paris and London_ (1933) contains an interesting
collection of the London slang or cant of the era, complete with
proposed etymologies, discussions of Cockney rhyming slang (already
on its way out, Orwell avers), a nice description of taboo avoidance
(published the same year as Bloomfield's more systematic account of
the phenomenon), the euphemism treadmill, discussion of phonological
change in the Cockney vowels, cross-linguistic similarities and
differences in the nature and use of obscenities and slurs, and so
on.  This is easy to find in e-book form on the web, but many of the
versions bleep out the crucial data, so that Orwell ends up
describing the difference in meaning and use of ____ vs. _____.  But
in some versions, e.g. http://www.msxnet.org/orwell/paris_and_london,
the blanks are appropriately filled in.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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