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A comprehensive history of slang in the English speaking world by its leading lexicographer.


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Title: Secret Language
Subtitle: Codes, Tricks, Spies, Thieves, and Symbols
Written By: Barry J. Blake
Description:

From the chat codes "PAW" or "Code 9" that teens use to let their friends
know that parents are eavesdropping, to the high-powered, computer-driven
encryptions used by governments to prevent foreign powers from stealing
classified information, covert language is ubiquitous in our society. Now,
in Secret Language, Barry Blake takes the reader on a fascinating excursion
down this mysterious trail of words, ranging across time and culture. With
revelations on every page, and sample codes and puzzles for the reader to
crack, it will entertain everyone with an urge to know more about the most
arcane and curious uses of language.

From backmasking to the Enigma Machine, from magic words to literary
symbols, here is a lively, engaging tour of languages that hide their
meanings from all but a chosen few. Blake explains the difference between
ciphers and codes (Morse code, oddly enough, is not a code but a cipher)
and shows how secret messages have been written--and broken--for almost two
thousand years. He explores the history and uses of the slang and argot of
schools and trades, tracing the stories of centuries-old cants such as
those used by sailors and criminals--among them polari, the mix of Italian,
Yiddish, and slang once spoken among strolling players and circus folk and
most recently adopted by the gay community. He examines the sacred
languages of ancient cults and religions, uncovers the workings of
onomancy, spells, and gematria, considers the obliqueness of allusion and
parody, and celebrates the absurdities of euphemism and jargon.

Anyone who enjoys word games and riddles, who loves finding out the hidden
meanings of slang or argot, or who delights in spy novels or real-life
tales of espionage, will find this volume an endless source of fascination.

Publication Year: 2010
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics
Issue: All announcements sent out by The LINGUIST List are emailed to our subscribers and archived with the Library of Congress.
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Versions:
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 0199579288
ISBN-13: 9780199579280
Pages: 352
Prices: U.S. $ 24.95