Cab Calloway's Hepster's Dictionary: Language of Jive (1939)

Publication Year: 
1939

Image retrieved from thatericalper.com on May 10th, 2015.

Jive talk was the distinctive slang which developed in Harlem where jive or jazz was played and was subsequently adopted more widely in US society, peaking in the 1940s.[1] This is also known as the argot of jazz; jazz jargon; vernacular of the jazz world; slang of jazz; parlance of hip; and Harlem jive.[2]

This was documented in works such as Cab Calloway's Hepster's Dictionary: Language of Jive (1939), which was the first dictionary published by a black person,[3] and Dan Burley's Original Handbook of Harlem Jive which was compiled and published in 1944 at the suggestion of Harlem poet Langston Hughes.[4] Besides referring to the music scene, much of the argot related to drugs such as marijuana. For example, Mezz Mezzrow gave this sample:[5]

SECOND CAT: Hey Mezzie, lay some of that hard-cuttin' mess on me. I'm short of a deuce of blips but I'll straighten you later.
MEZZROW: Righteous, gizz, you're a poor boy but a good boy — now don't come up crummy.
SECOND CAT: Never no crummy, chummy. I'm gonna lay a drape under the trey of knockers for Tenth Street and I'll be on the scene, wearin' the green.
Text retrieved from wikipedia.org on May 10th, 2015.

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