Edited by Andreas H. Jucker, Daniela Landert, Annina Seiler and Nicole Studer-Joho
[Studies in Language Companion Series 148] 2013
► pp. 129–154
This paper aims to explore the ways in which context is necessary for the meaning construction and understanding of the cant lexis (“thieves’ slang”) in actual language use. Taking a historical pragmatic approach, I investigate the use of one cant term (cull) in eighteenth-century texts drawn from two electronic resources: The Old Bailey Proceedings Online and The Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO). My historical discourse analysis of cull demonstrates that context plays a dynamic role in the meaning specification of the term and that different layers of context (linguistic, textual, socio-historical, and cultural) need to be considered in relation to each other for understanding how the meanings of cull are negotiated and appropriated in real language use.