The Folklore Podcast

The Folklore Podcast

Episode 117: POLARI

October 12, 2022

We look into the crossover between the fields of linguistics, social history and folklore with an examination of the secret language Polari. Coming from 16th century roots, Polari is generally known in modern times as an underground gay language popular in the 1960s and 1970s, in no small part thanks to the Radio 4 comedy show Round the Horne and its characters Julian and Sandy. But, before this, other forms of the language existed between fairground workers, the theatrical community, dock workers and more.

After a brief history of the development of Polari and a look at the film 'Putting on the Dish' which may have helped with the modern interest in Polari, we are joined by Prof. Paul Baker from Lancaster University, author of the book 'Fabulosa!'. He speaks with Dr Paul Cowdell of the Folklore Society on the topic.

To watch the film 'Putting on the Dish', visit

For more on Polari from Paul Baker's web pages, visit

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