Allusionist 99. Polari

When there were no safe spaces to be gay, Polari allowed gay men to identify and communicate with each other, and to keep things secret from outsiders.

Professor Paul Baker, author of the Polari dictionary and the upcoming book Fabulosa! The Story of Polari, Britain’s Secret Gay Language, explains how Polari emerged from criminal cant and London’s theatres and docks to be used a code language for gay men in the oppressive 1950s - and then, not long after, it entered the slang lexicons of the general public, via popular sketch comedy and the mouth of an annoyed princess.

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Allusionist 52: Sanctuary

The term 'sanctuary cities' has been in the news a lot in the past few weeks, as places in the USA declare themselves to be havens for undocumented immigrants. Though 'sanctuary' has a history of meaning safety for the persecuted, it has an even longer history of meaning something quite different: refuge for criminals.

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Allusionist 23: Criminallusionist

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Today, Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer from the Radiotopian podcast Criminal stop by to talk about the linguistic challenges of crime reporting.

They also share their episode 'Pants on Fire', about lying. It's an extremely useful handbook if you fancy becoming either a human polygraph, or an excellent liar.

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Come back next week for another Radiotopisode.

- HZ

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