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Shelta, Polari, and my project "Nadsat 2000"

From:Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Date:Sunday, July 16, 2000, 0:22
In the United Kingdom (and Ireland and possibly Canada and the US to a
lesser extent), there are two "languages" (themselves constructed) that
appear among two distinctive subcultures.  They are Shelta and Polari.

Shelta (or Cant) is a language spoken among a people in Ireland and
Britain called the "Travellers".  Though identified as such, they are
not Gypsies, who of course are a distinctive ethnic group with their
own native language and origins in India.  The Travellers, on the other
hand, are of true Irish or Scottish-Northern Irish stock.  Shelta
developed as a "code language" used internally.  The basis of the
langauge is English of the Irish (or other local) variation, but with
borrowings from Irish Gaelic and Romany.  Many words are alterations of
existing words, often backwards spelling, swapped syllables, or at
least altered vowels.  One word has entered into mainstream English as
"moniker" (name, nickname), which came from Shelta _munik_, supposedly
a perverse form of Irish _ainm_ "name".

A few web addresses about Shelta:
(this is the "official" website)

While Shelta is based on nomadic people mostly in Ireland, Polari is
identified with gay and lesbian circles in Britain.  Polari, a UK
English "slanguage" (I think I invented that term, check it) with
Romance (esp. Italian), Romany and Yiddish borrowings.  It is basically
a language that originated among theater and circus culture.  In a time
where homosexuality wasn't as tolerated as now, Polari became an
internal "secret language" that strengthened the gay community.
Therefore, Polari is called a "gay langauge" or "gay slang".

And this is discussed at two websites I've found:

One more link of interest presents a new theory about Etruscan (a long
dead language once spoken in Italy, not considered related to
Indo-European): it claims that it borrowed many words from Greek, but
changed the letters around (reversed words, etc.) along the same lines
as Shelta.  I'll read the proposed evidence and see for myself...

(For the record, Etruscan is considered by some to be a possibly
Nostratic offspring, but is not generally identified as a relative of
Basque, Pictish or Aquitanian.)


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