Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Glad to be gay

Polari - the slang used by a subculture of gay men for much of the twentieth century - is the focus of a really excellent article by top linguist and author, Paul Baker.

The A2 textbook mentions both Polari and Baker's work on this slang variety, but there's more good stuff to have a look at here, including the ways in which the slang evolved in different ways through its widespread but unstandardised usage. Baker also makes the point that the conditions that gave rise to Polari - draconian legislation against gay people, disapproving public attitudes and widespread prejudice and violence (just like Uganda, Zimbabwe and several other African states these days) - no longer exist in the same way in this country these days. And while that's got to be something to celebrate, the language (or anti-language) spawned by the repressive social climate is now nearly extinct, which is sad.

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