The vocabulary of past times, no longer used in English, is always fascinating, especially when we see how it was pilloried by the satirists of the day. Here we have Victorian high and low society, with its fashionable and unfashionable slang, its class awareness and the jargon of steam engines, motor cars and other products of the Industrial Revolution. Then as now, people had strong feelings about the flood of new words entering English.
Swearing, new street names and the many borrowings from French provoked continual irritation and mockery, as did the Americanisms increasingly encountered in the British press. In this intriguing collection, David Crystal has pored through the pages of the satirical magazine, Punch, between its first issue in 1841 and the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, and extracted the articles and cartoons that poked fun at the jargon of the day, adding a commentary on the context of the times and informative glossaries. In doing so he reveals how many present-day feelings about words have their origins over a century ago.