Possible Antedating of "Slang"

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Tue Apr 15 19:39:12 UTC 2014

"The London stage, 1660-1800" was an (essentially) day-by-day history of
performances, published in a dozen or so volumes in the 1960s & 1970s.   It
would be worth checking.  If I still lived around the corner from the
library where I used to work, I would know exactly where to look for it,
but unfortunately. . . .  It's available in better libraries everywhere,


On Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 3:05 PM, Baker, John <JBAKER at stradley.com> wrote:

> The OED has "slang" from 1756.  However, an earlier play, The Livery-Rake
> Trapp'd: or, The Disappointed Country Lass, which premiered at the New
> Theatre in the Haymarket on October 15, 1733, included a character named
> "Toby Slang," played in the original production (which was probably the
> only one ever mounted) by a Mr. Harper.  The (London) Daily Journal (Oct.
> 15, 1733) (Access Newspaper Archive) indicated that it was a "Ballad Opera"
> in four acts and says that "The Words of the English Songs are printed, and
> will be deliver'd gratis at the Theatre."  William J. Burling, A Checklist
> of New Plays and Entertainments on the London Stage, 1700 - 1737, at 157
> (1993) (Google Books), indicates that it was unpublished and may be a
> parody of The Livery Rake and Country Lass (5 May 1733).
> There does not seem to be any more information concerning this Toby Slang
> character on the Web, but if he was so named because he liked to use slang
> then this may be an antedating of the term.  I don't know if any copies of
> the play survive.  Toby Slang was the first character mentioned in the
> Daily Journal.
> John Baker
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

George A. Thompson
The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998..

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

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