George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Tue Aug 3 00:28:55 UTC 2010

Back in 1999, Mike Salovesh, whose posts were at one time a welcome part of ADS-L, wrote "I believe that many of the
underworld words from page 30, col. 2 came from Maurer's work with Federal prisoners at Lexington, Ky.  That's where Maurer collected the language of confidence men, and the fantastic stories that went with it, that appears in his "The Big Con".  (Yes, "The Big Con" is the book Hollywood plagiarized for the plot and the details of "The Sting".)

I recall further correspondence from Salovesh in which he said that he believed that Maurer did collect some money for the use of his material.  I don't find this bit in the ADS-L archives; I had some private correspondence with Mike, and perhaps I saw it there, but my own email archives only go back to 2001.

If I recall, Mike had known Maurer.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

----- Original Message -----
From: ronbutters at
Date: Monday, August 2, 2010 4:59 pm
Subject: Maurer

> the movie THE STING was supposedly based on one of David Maurer's
> scholarly books. Not sure how such a thing is possible, but that's the
> prevailing wisdom.
> ------Original Message------
> From: Mullins, Bill AMRDEC
> Sender: ADS-L
> To: ADS-L
> ReplyTo: ADS-L
> Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "the apocryphal HDAS III" (UNCLASSIFIED)
> Sent: Aug 2, 2010 1:38 PM
> Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
> Caveats: NONE
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On
> Behalf Of
> > Robin Hamilton
> > Sent: Monday, August 02, 2010 11:12 AM
> > Subject: Re: "the apocryphal HDAS III"
> >
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> ----------------------
> > -
> > I've also, belatedly, just discovered the existence of David W.
> Maurer, who
> > seems to have published extensively on American slang from the early
> 30s on.
> > Know his work at all?  I've flagged it to look at whenever I next get
> near a
> > decent library, and ordered_The Big Con_, the only one of his books
> going
> > at a price inside my range.
> >
> Maurer published a number of interesting articles in_American Speech_,
> available through JSTOR (and through subscription to the current version
> in the ADS, I believe).
> His books build on his research articles.
> Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
> Caveats: NONE
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -
> Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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