Down and Out in Paris and London


George Orwell

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Down and Out in Paris and London: Chapter 32 Summary & Analysis

Orwell ponders the ever-changing nature of language, particularly when it comes to swear words and slang. He goes on to list a number of slang terms in use in London’s slums, including boozer (a public house), a judy (a woman), and shackles (soup). Orwell considers why swear words, which often originate as words to describe sexual functions, become, over time, completely divorced from their earlier meaning. He considers insults also, and suggests that someone should keep a record of the living language to give a more complete picture of a time and place.
Orwell rightly predicted that many of these words would fall out of use. It is perhaps fortunate, then, that he took the time to record their meanings and ponder their origins. However, it’s an undeniably odd chapter in the context of the rest of the book, and reads like a non-sequitur in what is for the most part a deeply political text.
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