Carny

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A carny and his coconut shy, 2005

Carny or carnie is a slang term used in North America for a carnival (funfair) employee, and the language they use, particularly when the employee runs a "joint" (booth), "grab joint" (food stand), game, or ride at a carnival, boardwalk or amusement park. The term "showie" is used synonymously in Australia.

Etymology[edit]

Carny is thought to have become popularized around 1931 in North America, when it was first colloquially used to describe one who works at a carnival.[1] The word carnival, originally meaning a "time of merrymaking before Lent," came into use circa 1549.

Carny language[edit]

The carny vocabulary is traditionally part of carnival cant, a secret language. It is an ever-changing form of communication, in large part designed to be impossible to understand by an outsider.[2] As words are assimilated into the culture at large, they lose their function and are replaced by more obscure or insular terms.[citation needed] Most carnies no longer use cant, but many owners/operators and "old-timers" still use some of the classic terms.

The British form of fairground cant is called "Parlyaree".

Usage in popular culture[edit]

The 1964 Elvis Presley Movie Roustabouts took place in a carnival.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Definition of carny". Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved November 6, 2007. 
  2. ^ Carny
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ [2][dead link]
  5. ^ US. "CARNY | Gratis muziek, tourneedata, foto's, video's". Myspace.com. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  6. ^ US. "Butthole Surfers | Gratis muziek, tourneedata, foto's, video's". Myspace.com. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Lewis, Arthur H. (1970). Carnival. New York: Trident Press. The author traveled with several U.S. carnivals and gained the confidence of many carnies. 

External links[edit]