website, blog and vanity nexus of writer R F Brown

Posts tagged ‘argots’


my notes on: Little Book of Golf Slang by Randy Voorhees. Words to help you pass as a Golfer.

I am always looking for reference material related to slang and jargons. For my current novel I needed to feed a character with some golf speak and this little book is what they had in the stacks of my Public Library, for some reason. There is no cross referencing or etymology or terminology that will help you learn about the game. It’s not a dictionary of golf, it’s a novelty book. It might help people pass time in the lobby of the dentist office or make a good gift for the fourth night of Chanukah. I found some interesting entries on betting games I never heard like “Nassau” and “Wolf.” But entries like “A-Game”, “that dog will hunt”, “ugly”, and “the zone” are pretty widespread words in other sports and American English that are not going to strike you as golfy. For writers and researchers there is nothing in this short book you can’t find in amateur glossaries on the internet. I surely don’t play golf but I also don’t recommend hitting the ball twice and telling the golf boys you hit a “double Chen because you were leaking oil.” I suspect using this slang as a tool to improve your social credibility with other players, as the subtitle suggests, will mostly help you sound like as ass.


Notes on The Language of American Popular Entertainment: A Glossary of Argot, Slang, and Terminology

by Don B. Wilmeth (1981)

If you’re like me and looking for jargon related to popular theatre and Broadway then you are also running into the wrong book. However, despite what this glossary doesn’t include it can be an excellent and thorough reference source for anybody writing or researching 19th and early 20th century American carnival,¬†circus, magic and minstrel shows. Wilmeth’s glossary is not in a sophisticated package. It’s pretty much alphabetical listings of 3200 entries, no cross indexing. I love exploring reference books like this but then always find myself in a mobius when it comes to everyday use,¬†if I knew what word I was looking for I wouldn’t need a glossary. Some categorization might have been a more practical format. Online you can find similar glossaries but entries are fewer, less researched and mostly the sites are weakly designed with limited search tools. Someday all books like this will get e-booked and send us right to what we’re looking for. Until then this is best effort out there in its subject matter. And frankly the subject matter is a fascinating historical record. Again the book is heavy on words related to carnival or circus but it also provides terms from magic, minstrel shows, vaudeville, burlesque, tent shows and Toby shows, medicine shows and pitchmen, early cinema and optical entertainment, fairs, puppetry, pantomime, and wild west shows.