Counting in Polari
The Polari language (aka. Palare, Parlary, Palarie or Palari) is a cant slang, or a cryptolect, basically a secret language. It was mostly used by homosexual men as well as theatrical and circus people from the fifties to the seventies in the United Kingdom and in Ireland. English-based cant, Polari is an evolution of the previous Parlyaree secret language derived from Italian, which can be seen in its numbers names. The Polari name itself comes from the Italian parlare (to talk).
Due to lack of data, we can only count accurately up to 12 in Polari. Please contact me if you can help me counting up from that limit.
Polari numbers list
- 1 – una
- 2 – dooey
- 3 – tray
- 4 – quarter
- 5 – chinker
- 6 – say
- 7 – say oney
- 8 – say dooey
- 9 – say tray
- 10 – daiture
- 11 – long dedger
- 12 – kenza
Polari numbering rules
Now that you’ve had a gist of the most useful numbers, let’s move to the writing rules for the tens, the compound numbers, and why not the hundreds, the thousands and beyond (if possible).
- Digits from one to nine are specific words, namely una (or oney) , dooey (or dewey, dooe, duey, from Parlyaree after the Italian due) , tray , quarter  (from the Italian quattro), chinker  (from Parlyaree after the Italian cinque), say , say oney (literally six one), or setter , say dooey (literally six two), or otter , and say tray (literally six three) or nobber .
- The word for ten is daiture, or dacha, deger, from Parlyaree after the Italian dieci.
- Eleven is long dedger, or lepta .
- Twelve is kenza .
Write a number in full in Polari
Let’s move now to the practice of the numbering rules in Polari. Will you guess how to write a number in full? Enter a number and try to write it down in your head, or maybe on a piece of paper, before displaying the result.
Polari - The Lost Language of Gay Men
by Paul Baker, editors Routledge (2002)
[ Amazon.com, Kindle - Amazon.com]
Fantabulosa: A Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang
by Paul Baker, editors Bloomsbury Academic (2004)
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