Polari translation by Brian Fairbairn and Karl Eccleston
For the 50th celebration of Pride in London, we translated one of Shakespeare’s most famous quotes from Macbeth into Polari. Until 1967, homosexual sex was illegal in England and Wales.
To avoid imprisonment, gay men used Polari, a language that the Oxford English Dictionary says is “made up of Italianate phrases, rhyming slang and cant terms.
It had sprung up in the 1700s and 1800s as a secret language vagrants, itinerant performers, sailors and “gypsies” – many of its words, in fact, derive from the Romany people scattered across Europe. The quote translates as:
“Life’s but a mincing shadow, a poor joggering omee that trolls and frets her hour upon the boards, and then carks it; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of screeching and parnie, signifying nanti.”
Shown on wall next to Fagerhult Office on Dolben Street from sunset till 9pm on Tues, Thurs and Sat.