A history of cant and slang dictionaries


A history of cant and slang dictionaries

Julie Coleman

Oxford University Press, 2008-

  • v. 1 : pbk
  • v. 2 : pbk

大学図書館所蔵 件 / 6



Vol. 1. 1567-1784 -- v. 2. 1785-1858

Includes bibliographical references and indexes



v. 1 : pbk ISBN 9780199557097


This is the first volume in a complete history of the documentation of English cant and slang from 1567 to the present. It gives unparalleled insights into the early history of slang, the people who used it, and how and why it was recorded. Well over a hundred glossaries of cant and slang were published between 1567 and 1784. The cant lists reveal the secret language allegedly used by thieves and beggars to conceal their illicit conspiracies: Dr Coleman investigates where and how they were produced and the relationship between such lists and canting literature. She considers why this period was so fascinated by crime and by criminals, and apparently so obsessed with the need to record their language. How far, she asks, are the lists genuine records of contemporary cant, and how far the products of literary invention? Who produced them, and how were they researched? Who bought them, and what did they hope to gain from them? This absorbing and astute book will be an invaluable resource for anyone interested in English slang and its history. It also provides unusual and unexpected insights into the underworlds of early modern England.


  • List of Illustrations
  • Abbreviations and Conventions
  • Introduction
  • 1. The Beggars are Coming to Town
  • 2. The Harman-Lists
  • 3. The Head-Lists
  • 4. The B. E.-Lists
  • 5. The Life of Bampfylde-Moore Carew
  • 6. Other Cant and Slang Lists
  • 7. Cant in Other Dictionaries
  • 8. Conclusions
  • Appendix
  • Bibliography
  • Subject Index
  • Word Index

v. 2 : pbk ISBN 9780199557103


The second volume of Julie Coleman's entertaining and revealing history of the recording and uses of slang and criminal cant takes the story from 1785 to 1858, and explores their manifestations in the United States of America and Australia. During this period glossaries of cant were thrown into the shade by dictionaries of slang, which now covered a broad spectrum of non-standard English, including the language of thieves. Julie Coleman shows how Francis Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue revolutionized the lexicography of the underworld. She explores the compilation and content of the earliest Australian and American slang glossaries, whose authors included the thrice-transported James Hardy Vaux and the legendary George Matsell, New York City's first chief of police, whose The Secret Language of Crime: The Rogue's Lexicon informed the script of Martin Scorcese's film Gangs of New York. Cant represented a tangible danger to life and property, but slang threatened to undermine good behaviour and social morality. Julie Coleman shows how and why they were at once repellent and seductive. Her fascinating account casts fresh light on language and life in some of the darker regions of Great Britain and the English-speaking world.


  • 1. Francis Grose's Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue
  • 2. Dictionaries Based on Grose's
  • 3. Humphry Tristram Potter
  • 4. James Hardy Vaux
  • 5. Pierce Egan
  • 6. John Bee
  • 7. Minor British Cant and Slang Lists
  • 8. Some American Cant and Slang Lists
  • 9. College Dictionaries
  • 10. Conclusions
  • Appendix
  • Bibliography
  • Word Index
  • Subject Index

「Nielsen BookData」 より