views updated May 23 2018

SHELTA, also Shelter, Shelteroch, Sheldru. An ARGOT, derived from IRISH GAELIC, used by travelling people (tinkers) in Ireland and Britain. Many of its words are disguised through such techniques as BACK SLANG (such as gop kiss, from Irish póg) and altering the initial sounds of words (as in gather father, from Irish athair). The name appears not now to be used by its speakers, who call it Gammon, Tarri, or simple the Cant (compare CANT). It has also been referred to as Bog Latin, Tinkers' Cant, and the Ould Thing. There are two divisions, Gaelic Shelta (in Ireland and Scotland) and English Shelta (in England and Wales); although the influence of English in the latter is increasing, the varieties share a common core of some 2,000–3,000 Irish-derived words. American Travellers' Cant was originally also Shelta but is now largely Anglicized. BrE slang may have absorbed from Shelta such words as gammy lame (from gyamyath, Irish cam) and monicker name (from munnik, Irish ainm). English Shelta uses Irish-derived words in English syntax (as in I korbed him so hard I broke his pi I hit him so hard I broke his head) with Irish syntactic influence shown in some constructions (such as Have you the feen's dorah nyocked? Did you take the man's bread?)


views updated Jun 27 2018

Shelta an ancient secret language used by Irish and Welsh tinkers and gypsies, and based largely on altered Irish or Gaelic words. The name is recorded from the late 19th century, but is of unknown origin.


views updated May 14 2018

Shelta cryptic language of Irish tinkers, gipsies, etc., known also among them as sheldrū, shelter. XIX. of unkn. orig.