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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Polari beginners’ taster session (LGBT+ History Month)

When: Tuesday, February 7, 2023, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Where: Laws 2.10

Register here:

The Department of Linguistics invites all to a session on Polari, Britain’s gay secret language of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Join Robert James Hellyer for a bona romp through the history and linguistic background of Polari’s origins, then have a go at picking up a few phrases yourself. It’s not just for omee-palones and queens, you know!


As police and the general public threatened the safety of LGBTQ+ people in the UK, a new form of secretive talk developed, drawing on languages such as Italian, French, Romani, Yiddish, and more.

Ever wanted to make sure nobody can overhear your conversation on the bus? Ever needed to give the signal to a friend that it's time to leave the party? Or had some great gossip about you know who?

Polari, in its very nature, is used to conceal the topic of communication. It is both a puzzle and a game to use! This session will introduce the basics of how to polari bona (speak well) and give people the skills to crack the code themselves.


Register here:

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