Linguist, lexicographer, radio host, public speaker

The Con’s English

Bryan Curtis reviews for Slate Randy Kearse’s Street Talk, a slang dictionary he wrote in prison. My colleague Jesse Sheidlower is quoted as giving the book generally good marks, commenting that it’s a bit better than folk dictionaries usually are:

“One of the typical things about self-edited books of this sort is that they’ll include everything that is not standard English—slang terms, unusual pronunciations, a colloquial phrase that’s not slang. But these”—he gestured at Street Talk—”are mostly real lexical phrases. The terms in here have a particular meaning, and they’re used that way.”

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Grant Barrett