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24 Jul 2005

Own language
Hi expert, Thanks for this great forum. Many years ago when I was in Cape Town on holiday I was fascinated to hear some gay people speaking a strange language, or code, they'd developed for themselves, consisting of women's names. I recall that 'reeva' meant revolting, 'dora' meant drink and 'pricilla' meant police. 'Nancy' meant no and 'beaulah' meant beautiful. Some guys (predominantly from the Coloured community) could prattle away fluently, stringing these words together very rapidly, and it was apparent that they were understanding each other. Do some people still use this language or has it died out? Was it ever recorded or studied?
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Gay, lesbian and bisexual expert
Gay, lesbian and bisexual expert

01 Jan 0001

Hi Nelspruit

You're referring to a language called 'Gayle', which has been studied by linguists and recorded. A dictionary of Gayle has also been published: "Gayle - the language of kinks and queens; a history and dictionary of gay language in South Africa", by Ken Cage, published in 2003 by Jacana. A fascinating and fun read.

We do hear Gayle, spoken predominantly by the gay community living in the Cape Flats.

For more info on Gayle you can contact the Gay & Lesbian Archives, based at Wits, on (011) 717 4239.
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