Gay Slang Faces Extinction
Research carried out in Cam has revealed that gay language Polari is just one of 21 languages in the UK facing extinction.
19th Century Gay language Polari is just one of a number of languages facing extinction in the UK, according to recent Cambridge research.
The research was carried out by the World Oral Literature Project, based in Cambridge. Polari is just one of 21 dialects facing extinction, including: Old Kentish Sign Language, Cornish and the traditional language of the Isle of Man, Manx.
But, many may find it queer that a gay language even exists. It was developed at a time when homosexuality was still illegal in England as a way for gay men to communicate and arrange illicit encounters.
It remained popular among gay communities right up until the 1970s. However, it began to die out following the legalisation of homosexuality in 1967.
Some of Polari’s vocabulary has in fact filtered down into every day English. Words originating from Polari include: ‘camp’, meaning effeminate; ‘clobber’, meaning clothing and ‘naff’, meaning bad, which is in fact an abbreviation of ‘Not Available For Fucking.’
Cam Anthropologist Dr Mark Turin, who helped to compile the list of endangered languages, was keen to stress the importance of preserving endangered dialects such as Polari.
He said: “They are vehicles for history, knowledge and a sense of identity and they contain a whole pattern of understanding the natural world and its animals, plants and their medicinal properties and managing the land.
“So, put bluntly, if we care about saving whales we should care about saving languages.”
Controversially, Welsh is also included in the database under the category ‘vulnerable.’
A list of Polari slang can be found here. Who knows, it may catch on in Cindies.