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Gay Slang Lexicography: A Brief History and a Commentary on the First Two Gay Glossaries i; Gary Simes "? 1910 and 1911, Magnus Hirschfeld's journal, the Jahrbuch Vfür sexuelle Zwischenstufen, which was devoted to the study of homosexuality and homosexuals from every perspective, published a long article in six parts on homosexuality in England by I. L. or Leo Pavia. Titled "Die männliche Homosexualität in England mit besonderer Berücksichtigung Londons" (= 'Male Homosexuality in England with Special Consideration of London'), the series displayed considerable acquaintance with both the contemporaneous scene and the history of homosexuality in England. The second part contains among other things what is probably the first English gay glossary (Pavia 1910, 39-41).* That a glossary could be made attests to the reality of a considerable and highly developed homosexual underworld in London and some other big cities. It was necessarily an underworld because of the criminal status of homosexual acts, which had been frighteningly re-affirmed some fifteen years before in the trial, conviction, and imprisonment of Oscar Wilde. But it was in some respects also a demi-monde because otherwise respectable people frequented it, secretly of course, in order not to impair or lose their respectability. Something of its nature can be 1I should like to diank Paul Knobel for making available to me a copy of Pavia's article. Dictionaries:Journal oftheDictionary Society ofNorth America 26 (2005) Gary Simes experienced directly from two publications of the day: Sins ofthe Cities ofthe Plains, or the Recollections ofa Mary-Ann (1881), which purports to be the memoirs of the historical rent-boy or Mary-Ann named Jack Saul, and the homo-erotic novel Teleny (1893), a part in the composition of which has been attributed, quite erroneously in my view, to Oscar Wilde. The best modern evocation of gay London in the mid- to late-Victorian period is to be found in Neil Bartlett's Who Was That Man? A Presentfor Mr Oscar Wilde (1988). But much can also be learned from the two books devoted to the Cleveland Street scandal of 1889-90, which involved the exposure of a male brothel in London with aristocratic and probably royal patrons (Chester and others [1976] and Hyde [1976] ). One of those interviewed by police wasJack Saul. The alleged royal connection is explored in Aronson (1994). Pavia's glossary was far from being the last. In fact, it inaugurated a rich and abundant sub-field of twentieth-century lexicography, conducted for the most part by amateurs but none the less interesting for all that. The next effort was made in the United States and came from the pen of a psychiatrist, Aaron J. Rosanoff, who added a short glossary to the sixth edition of his textbook, A Manual of Psychiatry (1927, 204), which was reprinted unchanged in the seventh edition (1938, 159-60). Rosanoff's knowledge of the lingo presumably came from homosexual patients, and that he felt a need to include a glossary of the words he had learned reflects the great expansion of the gay world in large American cities in the sexually freer years following the First World War. Perhaps the best view of that world is offered by "Robert Scully"'s campy novel, A Scarlet Pansy (1932), which takes its main characters, Fay Étrange (who comes from Kuntsville "in the lower Pennsylvania hills") , Henri Voyeur, and Percy Chichi, on a transcontinental grand tour of United States gaydom, showing them meeting Beaches and Bütsches and Beach-Bütsches wherever they go, and which incidentally provides the lexicographer with his best evidence from fiction of the gay slang of the period. The history of the New York scene at this time is covered in Chauncey (1994), while there is also much evidence of the period, despite the ostensible theme, in White (1993). Ullman (1995) uncovers a gay colony in southern California in 1914, who were the earliest known users of the word queer. Rosanoff's modest gathering of twenty-one terms was followed in 1941 by a far more substantial effort, "The Language of Homosexuality ," by the then twenty-four-year-old Gershon Legman, who went on to become the greatest erotic...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 1-159
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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