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That’s the Ticket for Soup!

Victorian Views on Vocabulary as Told in the Pages of Punch

The vocabulary of the past is always intriguing, especially when it is no longer used in modern English. Many of the words and phrases that were popular in Victorian England may sound foreign today, but looking to original sources and texts can yield fascinating insight, especially when we see how vocabulary was pilloried by the satirists of the day. 

In That’s the Ticket for Soup!, the renowned language expert David Crystal returns to the pages of Punch magazine, England’s widely read satirical publication. Crystal has pored through the pages of 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. Here we have Victorian high and low society, with its fashionable and unfashionable slang, its class awareness on display in the vocabulary 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 addition to these entertaining examples, Crystal includes commentary on the context of the times and informative glossaries. This original and amusing collection reveals how many present-day feelings about words can be traced to the satire of a century ago. 

120 pages | 34 halftones | 6 1/4 x 8 1/4

Language and Linguistics: General Language and Linguistics

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