Dr. Gross' Criminal Investigation (1906), and Thieves Slang (1962)
January 13, 2013 7:00 PM   Subscribe

Criminal Investigation, a Practical Handbook for Magistrates, Police Officers and Lawyers (1906)
This volume is designed to be a working hand-book for all engaged or interested in Criminal Investigation. It has, by special permission, been translated and adapted from the well-known work of Dr. Hans Gross, Professor of Criminology in the University of Prâg and special lecturer on that subject in the University of Vienna.... Few men are so well fitted, by training and experience, as Dr. Gross to compile a work like the present.... As M. Gardeil, Professor of Criminal Law at Nancy, says, in introducing the French Translation to French Criminalists, Dr. Gross is "an indefatigable observer; a far-seeing psychologist; a magistrate full of ardour to unearth the truth, whether in favour of the accused or against him; a clever craftsman; in turn, draughtsman, photographer, modeller, armourer; having acquired by long experience a profound knowledge of the practices of criminals, robbers, tramps, gipsies, cheats, he opens to us the researches and experiences of many years. His work is no dry or purely technical treatise; it is a living book, because it has been lived."
See also: Slang Expressions Commonly Used By Thieves, from Chapter 8 of the 5th ed. (1962) of Gross's Criminal Investigation.
posted by filthy light thief (13 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Well, this should be excellent to expand my vocabulary of swear words.

And to confuse people while I suck the monkey.
posted by Mezentian at 7:14 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you want to go back farther, here's Argot and Slang, a new French and English Dictionar of the Cant Words, Quaint Expressions, Slang Terms and Flash Phrases used in the High and Low Life of Old and New Paris (1889) [Google books], as referenced in the Slang of Criminals section of the 1906 edition of Criminal Investigation on Archive.org. Note that CI 1906 doesn't have the nice multi-page spread of words, but rather discusses how slang terms come about.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:27 PM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

And to confuse people while I suck the monkey.

Mind the Tops and Bottoms, good sir!
posted by jquinby at 7:40 PM on January 13, 2013

To go back even further, some nice person did a fairly clean transcript of Robert Greene's A Notable Discouery of Coosnage, if you want to know how the badger game worked in the 16th century.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:59 PM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

criminals, robbers, tramps, gipsies, cheats

mah people
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:08 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Weird to see that some of the thieves language coincides with some slang I hear and sometimes use today.
The one that most stood out was, heh sorry, "pussy" which used to mean furs. So, which came first? Cats have fur. So do most, er, vaginas. So, which came first? Pussy the cat or pussy the vagina? I mean, now we don't want fur anywhere near it (thus, shaving, no?), so it's a weird connection. And does this allude to the heart of some social reasoning in using the word "pussy" then and now, that women's vaginas were to be stolen?
Not to be crude here, but slang and the history of language is weirdly interesting and rather cool.
posted by DisreputableDog at 12:33 AM on January 14, 2013

Quite a lot of that slang is still commonly used. Nice to see some Polari in there too.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:22 AM on January 14, 2013

Tha's not fur, you dog.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:13 AM on January 14, 2013

Hell, things like pony and grand are used so much they are barely even slang any more.
posted by jaduncan at 7:15 AM on January 14, 2013

Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves.
posted by Xurando at 7:18 AM on January 14, 2013

The criminal slang of 1962 was surprisingly not very profane, but this WAS before the Beatles.
posted by three blind mice at 9:45 AM on January 14, 2013

I suspect that it was expected that police would already understand common swear words.
posted by jaduncan at 9:50 AM on January 14, 2013

Bollocks. Now I'm going to have to watch "The Sweeney" all over again.
posted by sneebler at 6:08 PM on January 14, 2013

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