REGISTRATION REQUEST FOR en-boont (was: Registration of argots)

John Cowan jcowan at
Mon Jan 6 10:03:54 CET 2003

Jon Hanna scripsit:

> I have heard [Polari] used to the extent of being as firmly removed
> from received English as the more "difficult" dialects of English,
> and rich enough that there is no need to slip into received English.

These statements are (or were) unquestionably true of Boontling, the
short ling that Boonters used to harp, 1880-1920.  Only a few codgy
harpers are still with us (the rest piked to the dusties long ago), but
there is no question about the productivity or completeness of Boont,
as in this version of a familiar English-language nursery rhyme:

	The eeld'm piked for the chigrel nook
		For gorms for her bahl beljeemer;
	The gorms had shied, the nook was strung,
		And the bahl beljeemer had nemer.

Still, the Mendocino Mushroom Forager issue of 1980 (the "Boont Ite-Steak
Greeley Sheet") contained this sentence by Chipmunk (mundanely Bob
Glover), warning against ignorantly mistaking poisonous mushrooms for
edible ones:

	You must do much graymatterin fore pikin for seekin Ite steaks
	to gorm, cause the sockers might not be bahlers, but nonchers
	with dusties dust, so deek your bok well.

Note the slight syntactic difference between Boontling (shared with
many non-standard English dialects) and standard English:  "pikin *for*
seekin" as opposed to English "walking/traveling *to* hunt".

In fact, I will put my RFC 3066 funny money where my mouth is:



   Name of requester          : John Cowan

   E-mail address of requester: jcowan at

   Tag to be registered       : en-boont

   English name of language   : Boontling

   Native name of language (transcribed into ASCII): Boontling, short ling

   Reference to published description of the language (book or article):

	Adams, Charles C.  _Boontling: An American Lingo, with a Dictionary
	of Boontling.  University of Texas Press, 1971

   Any other relevant information:

	Boontling is the name given by its speakers to a deliberately
	contrived jargon which was spoken extensively between 1880 and
	1920 in the upper Anderson Valley of Mendocino County, California.
	This name, an abbreviated, self-explaining compound, is itself
	a typical word in the jargon.  'Boont' is the local term for
	Boonville, the largest town in the valley and traditionally
	the service center of the upper portion of the area; 'ling' is
	slightly abbreviated 'lingo.'  Boontling, then, is the lingo of

	At the zenith of its development, Boontling contained a basic
	vocabulary of more than 1000 words and phrases, and nearly
	3000 specialized names for inhabitants of the area and for
	local geographical features.  It was spoken and/or understood
	by most of the approximately 500 people in the rural community.
	Three differing accounts of its origins are given by informants;
	all three agree that it originated as a secret language, but
	then spread, perhaps via public school, to the general populace.
	A conscious effort was made to coin additional words.

	Boontling is still studied today, both as an unusual linguistic
	phenomenon, and by local valley residents who wish to know more
	of their heritage.


Evolutionary psychology is the theory           John Cowan
that men are nothing but horn-dogs,   
and that women only want them for their money.
        --Susan McCarthy (adapted)              jcowan at

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