[Ads-l] Put the Pumpkin in the Boat; a new dictionary of prison slang

Bonnie Taylor-Blake b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jul 2 23:27:42 UTC 2015

By Leon Neyfakh for Slate.com

Prison slang is forged under pressure. A word that means one thing on
the outside can mean something entirely different when used by people
leading highly restricted lives in cramped, often dangerous
facilities. Inmate shorthand can be indecipherable even to the family
members who come to visit them, and it can vary greatly from one
institution to the next.

Before they set about compiling a dictionary of prison slang, the
inmates at Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in
Bonne Terre, Missouri, used words like "viking" (meaning a prisoner
with poor personal hygiene) and "Cadillac" (meaning a cup of coffee
with cream and sugar) without thinking about it too hard. But when a
group of inmates put their private language under a microscope, they
realized the way they use language reflects years of institutional
history and serves as a unique window onto their experiences of prison





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

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