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Archive for December, 2012

From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

Lovecraft Boarding House

Lovecraft Boarding House (Photo credit: thurdl01)

Take: “to succeed or be patronised; “do you think the new opera will Take?” “No, because the same company Took so badly under the old management.”
“to Take On“: to grieve; Shakespeare uses the word Taking in this sense.
“to Take Up for anyone”: to protect or defend a person.
“to Take Off“: to mimic.
“to Take Heart“: to have courage.
“to Take Down a peg or two”: to humiliate, or tame.
“to Take Up“: to reprove.
“to Take After“: to resemble.
“to Take In“: to cheat or defraud, from the lodging-house keepers’ advertisements “single men Taken In and Done For,” an engagement which is as frequently performed in a bad as a good sense.
“to Take the Field“: when said of a General, to commence operations against the enemy; when a racing man Takes the Field he stakes his money against the favorite.

(I love the two meanings of Taken In and Done For – To take care of someone and do things for them or to cheat and kill them. Great! Well, not so great if it turns out to be the second one.)

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From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

 

Tail buzzer: a thief who picks coat pockets.

 

(Ha! What a great one. Someone who buzzes around like a bee stinging people in their back pockets. Great! )

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From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

 

Taffy: (corruption of David), a Welshman. Compare Sawney (from Alexander), a Scotchman.

 

(Okay, how do you get Taffy from David? Or Sawney from Alexander for that matter? I think we need a little more here.

Well, ask and you shall receive.  Here is  a fun but unfortunately insulting to Welshmen poem. (Sounds to me like Taffy is just hungry.) I guess if you figure in the Welsh accent Davy could become Taffy…)

Versions of this rhyme vary. Some common versions are:

Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief;
Taffy came to my house and stole a piece of beef;
I went to Taffy’s house, Taffy wasn’t in;
I jumped upon his Sunday hat and poked it with a pin.
Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a sham;
Taffy came to my house and stole a piece of lamb;
I went to Taffy’s house, Taffy was away,
I stuffed his socks with sawdust and filled his shoes with clay.
Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a cheat,
Taffy came to my house, and stole a piece of meat;
I went to Taffy’s house, Taffy was not there,
I hung his coat and trousers to roast before a fire.

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From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

 

Tackle: clothes. Sea

 

(That’s short and sweet. I like it. for more info on what a pirate in the early 1700s would wear visit Gentlemen of Fortune)

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From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

File:Drafting board with T Square.jpg

Drafting board with T square.

T: “to suit to a T,” to fit to a nicety. Old. Perhaps from the T-square of carpenters, by which the accuracy of work is tested.

(Ah, of course! I always wondered where that one came from. I did find a few other candidates for where it came from – a tee in golf for example. But this reasoning seems very likely.)

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From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

Pence

Pence (Photo credit: tstadler)

Saltee: a penny, Pence, &c., are thus reckoned:

Oney Saltee: a penny, from the Ital., Uno Soldo
Dooe Saltee: twopence Due Soldi
Thay Saltee:
threepence Tre Soldi
Quarterer Saltee:
fourpence… Ouattro Soldi
Chinker Saltee:
fivepence Cinque Soldi
Say Saltee:
sixpence Sei Soldi
Say Oney Saltee
, or Setter Saltee: sevenpence Sette Soldi
Say Dooe Saltee
, or Otter Saltee: eightpence Otto Soldi
Say Tray Saltee or Nobba Saltee: ninepence Nove Soldi
Say Quarterer Saltee
or Dacha Saltee: tenpence Diece Soldi
Sat Chinker Saltee
, or Dacha One Saltee: elevenpence. Dieci Uno Soldi
Oney Beong
: one shilling.
A Beong Say Saltee: one shilling; and sixpence
Dooe Beong Say Saltee or Madza Cakoon: half-a-crown, or two shillings and sixpence.

This curious list of numerals in use among the London street folk is, strange as it may seem, derived from the Lingua, Franca or bastard Italian, of the Mediterranean seaports, of which other examples may be found in the pages of this Dictionary. Saltee, the cant term used by the costermongers and others for a penny, is no other than the Italian, Soldo (plural, Soldi), and the numerals as may be seen by the Italian equivalents are a tolerably close imitation of the originals. After the number six, a curious variation occurs, which is peculiar to the London cant, seven, being reckoned as Say Oney, six-one, Say Dooe, six-two = 8, and so on. Dacha, I may remark, is perhaps from the Greek, Deka, ten, which, in the Constantinopolitan Lingua, Franca is likely enough to have been substituted for the Italian. Madza, is clearly the Italian Mezza. The origin of Beong I have not been so fortunate as to discover, unless it be the French Bien, the application of which to a shilling is not so evident; but amongst costermongers and other street folk, it is quite immaterial what foreign tongue contributes to the secret language. Providing the terms are unknown to the police and the public generally, they care not a rushlight whether the polite French, the gay Spaniards, or the cloudy Germans helped to swell their vocabulary. The numbers of low foreigners, however, dragging out a miserable existence in our crowded neighborhoods, organ grinders and image sellers, foreign seamen from the vessels in the river, and out own connections with Malta and the Ionian Isles, may explain, to a certain extent the phenomenon of these Southern phrases in the mouths of costers and tramps.

(Well that was a mouthful. I like the reference to “polite French,” “gay Spaniards,” and “cloudy Germans.” And I love the Lingua Franca for eightpence, “Otter Saltee.” I can just see the tavern now, the Salty Otter.)

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From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

Salep

Salep (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Saloop, Salep, or Salop: a greasy, looking beverage, formerly sold on stalls at early morning, prepared from a powder made of the root of the Orchis mascula, or Red-handed Orchis. Within a few years coffee stands have superseded Saloop stalls, but Charles Lamb, in one of his papers, has left some account of this drinkable, which he says was of all preparations the most grateful to the stomachs of young chimney sweeps.

 

(After some research I found that the Red-handed Orchis in now called the Fragrant Orchid . I discovered that you can still get Salep made from a flour  ground from the root of the Fragrant Orchid. Apparently it’s from Turkey. Using Orchid bulbs to make drinks goes as far back

as Ancient Rome. I wish they told you what it tastes like.)

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Newgate Prison, Bristol c18th

Newgate Prison, Bristol c18th (Photo credit: brizzle born and bred)

From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

 

Salt Box:  the condemned cell at Newgate.

 

(Newgate, of course, was the notorious prison. I suppose the salt refers to either the condemned’s sweat or tears.)

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From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

 

Salt: “It’s rather too Salt,” said of an extravagant hotel bill.

 

(I like that one. I wonder where it comes from? Was salt expensive back then?)

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From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

A street performer juggling torches in Devizes...

A street performer juggling torches in Devizes, Wiltshire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Salamanders: street acrobats, and jugglers who eat fire.

 

(How funny!)

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