English Slang in the Nineteenth Century

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This collection of eight works on 19th-century English slang provides a conspectus of the wide range of such dictionaries produced in the heyday of slang lexicography. It is a collection that demonstrates a mixture of seriousness and humour in its celebration of the non-standard and eccentric aspects of the English language and its localized users. Besides drawing on the blossoming of comparative philology, the original publications of these works may in part be explained as a reaction to the encroaching standardization and conformity brought about by easier transport and communications. The two earliest published texts, both entitled Gradus ad Cantabrigiam , look at the unique customs and slang of the University of Cambridge, asserting the University's individual ethos over its rival Oxford. The final work, rare and possibly unique of its kind, is on the Glynne language, a private family language evolved and used by the Glynne family (into which the Gladstone and Lyttelton families married). Coupled with this is the bizarrely named and equally rare Mushri-English Dictionary , which records the peculiar speech mannersims of Edmund Morshead who taught classics at the oldest of the English public schools, Winchester College. The seventh edition is reproduced here alongside Christopher Stray's privately printed study of the social, intellectual and institutional contexts of the Dictionary's production. Chronologically in the middle of these texts are two famous and more national lexicographical works by Hotten and Grose. Both are set out alphabetically with short explanations, while Hotten provides more etymological detail. The set is completed with Smart and Crofton's erudite work on the lexicography of the Romanies, a perpetually separate social group whose members had lived in but outside of English society for so long. Together these works provide an supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary's massive account of standard English and to John Farmer's and Joseph Wright's two large dictionaries of slang and dialect. The set, introduced by the historian of education Christopher Stray should be a valuable resource across a wide range of disciplines.