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Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Nuts and Bolts: backslang.

Backslang is...well, it's a bit rubbish, frankly.

There have been quite a few attempts to establish it, but they've always failed because...well, I would say because backslang is really quite annoying.

Backslang always seems to have been used as a means of excluding people, too, which does rather seem to miss the point of language.

Backslang comes in two varieties, one of which is real backslang (that is, saying a word backwards) and the other one...isn't.

True backslang seems to have been invented by London traders in the 1800s so they could say rude things about their customers. This can't have been great as a way of encouraging custom, and this could be why these backslang words have pretty much died out. The only one we use commonly is yob, which used to mean boy but now means bad boy.

People do wonder if wonk is backslang, too, as it means someone who's in the know.

The only other possible backslang word I've come across is crib, meaning thief's lair. This could be from the old word birk, house: but I doubt it.

The other sort of backslang involves moving the first bit of a word to its end and then putting some sound like onga in, too, just to confuse everyone.

It makes me tired just thinking about it.


I must say, though, that in the Juniors my best friend Lehcar often called me Yllas.

And why not.

Thing To Do Today: talk forwards!  

The word slang appeared in the 1700s, but no one knows where it came from.
The back bit is obvious.

1 comment:

  1. I do all my shopping at ESORTIAW courtesy of my granddaughter!


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