When trying to capture the language of the Eighteenth Century, Grose’s dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: A dictionary of buckish slang, university wit and pickpocket eloquence, is just the job. The minute you scroll through you’re hypnotised; immediately thrust into a vibrant world of language, mostly crafted by the poor of London and richly peppered with vernacular from the hoards rushing towards the excitement of London. Vulgar isn’t in the title for nothing: The common tongue is obsessed with the body and the various contortions it makes. Every second word is slang or cant for; thief, whore, various trades and items of clothing, sayings, description, a multiplicity of names for spirituous liquor, and insult. What surprises most is seeing words such as Bog Trotter and The Crack meaning exactly what they mean today which leaves you wondering if they were brought to London by Irish immigrants or born in the streets around St Giles or Seven Dials. To shoot the cat – vomit from excess of liquor. Short heeled wench - a girl apt to fall on her back. We’re told a Conny Wobble, from Irish, is eggs and brandy beat up together.
Take a look yourself and wallow in the richness, colour, vulgarity of 18th Century London where the ordinary folk entertain each other with a hefty doses of sleg and language acrobatics.