a stocking stuffer
thompsng at ELMER4.BOBST.NYU.EDU
Fri Nov 5 21:40:07 UTC 1999
It's the time of year again when we must think of holiday gifts for
our loved ones. No doubt many of you have on your list a
dialectologist with a particularly well-stocked library. However, he
or she is not likely to have Hillary Clinton's Pen Pal: A Guide to
Life and Lingo in Federal Prison, by Reinhold Amanm, ex-federal
prisoner no. 03873-089. This is a glossay of prison slang, as
collected by Dr. Aman during during about a year's incarceration,
along with a code of prison etiquette, and is intended as a survival
guide to new prisoners, and is presented as an open letter to Hillary
Clinton, in the expectation that she will require such a guide in a
few years' time.
The vocabulary includes prison slang, penological jargon and
bureaucratic initialisms. The definitions are lengthy and
discursive; some are framed so as to be directed toward Clinton
herself. The compiler is of course the founder and editor of
Maledicta: the International Journal of Verbal Aggression and the
tone of the introduction, glossary and postscript are appropriately
(I'm not recommending this book for its value as a diatribe against
the Clintons; personally I think that Clinton is the greatest
president since Carter and Hillary is beyond question the greatest
president's wife since Mrs. Carter. I wouldn't put them in the same
ring as the Trumans or the Hoovers, of course. The Fillmores, maybe.
. . . But back to our topic.)
Naturally, most readers will find something offensive in this book,
and many will no doubt find it entirely offensive. I doubt that Dr.
Aman would have it any other way. I don't know that any of the slang
is previously unrecorded -- current slang isn't my interest, but many
of the terms were familiar to me. Regardless, it's worthwhile having
a vocabulary collected at a particular place at a specific time.
I'm not actually supposing that anyone one on this list will buy
a personal or a gift copy, but the book ought to be more widely
available in libraries than it is. It's copyright 1996, yet the RLIN
network shows only Harvard, out of no doubt 40 university libraries
in that network, and OCLC shows only 9, including Harvard, again, and
the Bangor, Maine, Public Library, out of many hundreds that use that
$11.50, from Maledicta Press, P. O. Box 14123, Santa Rosa, Calif.
PS: about this time last year I posted a notice about the First New
Haven Slang Dictionary, with the promise that I would soon distribute
information as to how it may be obtained. Well, I have finally, I
hope, got the rascal treed, and just in time for this Christmas, the
penultimate one of the present century and millenium. Stay tuned.
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