parlyaree

Definitions

Slang

  • noun the strong Italian influence on the theatre, dance, music and the humbler entertainments of the streets from the late 17th to the late 19th centuries gave rise to an Italianate jargon. This terminology was adopted by English speakers (including vagabonds, street traders and the like), with resulting deformation of the original Italian words. This code, later known as parlyaree or parliari (itself a corruption of the Italian parlare, meaning to speak), died out slowly during the 20th century. Certain terms remain in limited use, among them nanty, omi, khazi and bona.

Theater

  • In the 18th and 19th centuries, an Italian-based language usedas the lingua franca of non-legitimate theatrical performers. Earlyusers of the language were circus artists and other performers whosework involved foreign tours. In the later 19th century the languagebecame current in the underworld and the homosexual community. Sincethe early 1970s polari has been a term for gay slang andit is possible that the two words are connected. Although parlyareebecame fairly widespread it never achieved respectability.
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