Polari

Polari-- a distinctive English argot, in use since at least the 18th century among groups of theatrical and circus performers and in certain homosexual communities, derived largely from Italian, directly or through Lingua Franca

Also , parlyaree, parlary. (ult. << It parlare to speak, talk.)This was used extensively by the ballet world that I know of during the 40s and 50s. During the 60s and 70s it had dropped from favour or had been forgotten. An article in a London England paper during the 70s brought back some of the vocabulary and its usage.

Vocabulary (only in part)
VARDA sometimes VADRA look, or look at
HOMME pronounced OAMIE male gender
PALOMME female gender
HOMME-PALOMME homosexual–male or lesbian
BONER good looking–beautiful
NAFF ugly–not good looking
EKE (pronounced EEK) face
LAHLEES legs
DOLLY good looking object or hair-do
EXAMPLES
Varda the homme with the boner eke Look at the man with the good looking face
Varda the homme with the naff eke look at the man with the ugly face
Varda the palomme with the boner lahlees look at the woman with the good legs
Varda the homme-palomme with the boner lahlees and the naff eke Look at the queer with the nice legs but an ugly face
Varda the homme-palomme with the dolly hand bag look at the queer carrying the lovely hand-bag
Varda the palomme with the dolly hair look at the woman with the nice hair-do

There was more to the vocabulary, but it has drifted back into the mists of time.

It was used extensively also by the GAY British comedians. Kenneth Williams in “ROUND THE HORN” (BBC RADIO). There may still be some rebroadcasts from time to time.

Along with POLARI, the rhyming Cockney language was also used by dancers.

EXAMPLES
BRISTOLS and BITS
TROUBLE and STRIFE
WHISTLE and FLUTE
tits
wife
suit
reduced to BRISTOLS
reduced to TROUBLE
reduced to WHISTLE

It goes on and on

returning to the Random House Dictionary we find

CAMP (KAMP) 1. something that provides sophisticated, knowing amusement, as by virtue of its being artlessly mannered or stylised, self consciously artificial and extravagant, or teasingly ingenuous and sentimental; 2. a person who adopts a teasing, theatrical manner, esp. for the amusement of others; 3. Also- camp it up, to speak or behave in a coquettishly playful or extravagantly theatrical manner; 4. campy: camp Hollywood musicals of the 1940s. (1905-10 perh. idal. camp impetuous, uncouth person.) Hence, slightly objectionable, effeminate, homosexual; in some senses prob. special use of camp brothel, meeting place of male homosexuals.

The word CAMP was used in conversation on a regular basis. It did not have to insinuate homosexual, as a matter of fact the two previous items in this document would have been called CAMP—polari and rhyming language.

Referring back to POLARI, it could read “Varda the Homme-palomme with the camp hand-bag.”

The term HIGH CAMP is a North Americanisation of CAMP.

HOW CAMP!!!!

 


Polari lexicon:

Hugh Young’s Lexicon of Polari
Polari Words from Lingua Franca

Polari articles:

Researching Polari
HOW BONA TO VADA YOUR EEK!


Polari also Palarie, Parlyaree, Parlary
(the xrefer definition)


etc. [18c: from Italian parlare to talk]. A once-extensive argot or cant in Britain and elsewhere, among sailors, itinerants, people in show business (especially the theatre and circuses), and some homosexual groups. It survives as a vocabulary of around 100 words, some of which have entered general BrE slang: mank(e)y rotten, worthless, dirty (from Italian mancare to be lacking), ponce an effeminate man, pimp (from Spanish pu(n)to a male prostitute, or French pront prostitute), scarper to run away (probably from Italian scappare to escape, perhaps influenced by Cockney rhyming slang Scapa Flow go). A composite of different Romance sources, it was first taken to England by sailors, may derive ultimately from Lingua Franca, and has been called ‘a secret language born out of oppression’ (Peter Burton, in ‘The Gentle Art of Confounding Naffs: Some Notes on Polari’, Gay News 120, p. 23, 1979). A sample of present-day argot runs: ‘As feely homies, we would zhoosh our riahs, powder our eeks, climb into our bona new drag, don our batts and troll off to some bona bijou bar’ (Ian Hancock, ‘Shelta and Polari’, in P. Trudgill (ed.). Language in the British Isles, 1984) [feely homies young men, zhoosh our riahs fix our hair, eeks faces, bona nice, drag clothes, batts shoes, troll wander, bijou small].