pickpocket slang (New Yorker)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sun Jan 6 23:06:46 UTC 2013

Adam Green, "A Pickpocket's Tale," New Yorker, Jan. 7, 2013

Speaking in a gravelly mixture of urban slang and old-fashioned
street-crime lingo, he [Gary Scott] told us that he was born in
Memphis but grew up in Chicago, where, at age thirteen, he learned how
to pick pockets at what he called “whiz school,” under the tutelage of
two local cannons named High Pocket and Finger Wave Dave. “I been
playing since I was knee-high to a shit-ball,” he said. “At first, I
was a moll buzzer. I used to play in the ghetto. Then I started
playing Skokie, then I started playing downtown in the Loop. They got
Shot-Jims down there, and if you can play at that level and beat a
chump, right there on the corner in front of they face—believe me, you
can play.” (Rough translation: “I started out stealing from women’s
purses in my neighborhood, and then I started to ply my trade
downtown, where I got so good that I was able to steal wallets out of
men’s jacket and pant pockets even under the eagle eye of undercover
police officers trained in the ways of my profession.”)


Ben Zimmer

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

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