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DICTIONARY OF SLANG AND UNCONVENTIONAL ENGLISH

DICTIONARY OF SLANG AND UNCONVENTIONAL ENGLISH, short form DSUE. A work by Eric PARTRIDGE, published in 1937 in London by Routledge & Kegan Paul. The subtitle of the original work described its contents as: ‘Slang, including the language of the underworld, Colloquialisms and Catchphrases, Solecisms and Catachreses, Nicknames, Vulgarisms, and such Americanisms as have been naturalized’. It built on more than 12 dictionaries of SLANG, beginning with Thomas Harman's Caveat for Vagabones (1567), and was based on Farmer and Henley's Slang and Its Analogues (seven volumes, 1890–1904). He added material from the OED, glossaries of contemporary slang from the 1930s onward, his observation of everyday common or specialized slang, and in due course notes from the worldwide network of correspondents that it brought into being. Its coverage was essentially the UK and Commonwealth. The DSUE was widely regarded as filling a lexicographical gap, because it treated four-letter words and sexual and scatological vulgarities that had previously been omitted by the OED and the general run of ‘family’ dictionaries. The obscenity laws of the time forbade the printing of such words in full; asterisks were therefore substituted for vowels in the two editions before the Second World War: ‘c*nt. The female pudend’; ‘f*ck. An act of sexual connexion’. Partridge noted in the preface: ‘My rule, in the matter of unpleasant terms, has been to deal with them as briefly, as astringently, as aseptically as was consistent with clarity and adequacy; in a few instances, I had to force myself to overcome an instinctive repugnance.’ By the 7th edition (1970), the book had become an institution and expanded to two (unstarred) volumes. In 1978, Partridge gave his notes for the 8th edition of DSUE to Paul Beale, who edited the two volumes back into one, as published in 1984.

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