This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Nuts and Bolts: mirror slang.

How many slang names for the police do you know?

Many of them are unkind (filth, pigs), some have existed ever since there's been an official police force (Bobby and Peeler are both named after the founder of the modern English police force, Robert Peel); but the one that I'm most interested in is ekky.

Ekky is a word used by criminals, and it's also the only example I know of what I'm calling mirror slang. 

Mirror slang?

Yes. When you're in your car, you see, and you notice you're being followed by the police, in your rear-view mirror you'll see the sign ECILOP. (It'll be in mirror writing, naturally, but those will be the letters reading left to right.) 

File:Police in riot gear at Ferguson protests.jpg
photo by Jamelle Bouie

Shortening this gives you ECI - though, to show its pronunciation, it's generally spelled EKKY.

This is such an elegant way of making new words that it should surely be used more widely. Why aren't firemen Erifs? Paramedics would be called Ecnals (short for AMBULANCE). And parents on journeys would surely benefit from mirror slang forms of chocolate (etalo and swings (, pronouncing that might be an insurmountable challenge. PLAYGROUND, though, gives us the very pleasingly grim dnuorg).

By this point you're probably thinking, yes, but isn't mirror slang basically the same thing as back slang? And, in effect, it is. But back slang has hardly ever been used because it's entirely artificial, whereas mirror slang - well, you can see a logic and a purpose in that.

What do you think? I'm going to keep an eye out for more examples of mirror slang. 

And if there aren't any, well, that just makes ekky even more special, doesn't it.

Word To Use On A Car Journey Today: ekky. Or a bit of your own mirror slang, perhaps.

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