Criminal jargon lexis in the original novel by Charles Dickens «Oliver Twist»

Keywords: English, Nonstandard English, criminal jargon, criminal lexis, jargon lexica unit, equivalent, specifics of criminal jargon, function, feature.


The article deals with the research of the criminal jargon lexis used in the original English fiction. The author believes that the problems of foreign language nonstandard lexis has constantly been the subject of the local and foreign linguists’ scientific research, but despite their great number, the
jargon analysis was carried out on the limited corpus of the representational means and left some questions open, one of them is an English criminal jargon lexis. The purpose of the study is to determine features of criminal jargon and its main lexical units, based on the analysis of its usage in the novel «Oliver Twist» by Charles Dickens. This purpose presupposed the selection of such research methods as a contextual analysis, a comparative method, and a quantitative analysis. The analysis of scientific works has given the opportunity to clarify the concept of «criminal jargon» as the conditional, non-natural and mysterious language of a criminal group, which differs from the commonly accepted literary language by the presence of specific words and expressions. The author has tried to define the basic functions of criminal jargon (to protect the information of a criminal group using specific symbols in its speech; to ensure the security of this information; to recognize of «their» and «others»; to demonstrate belonging to the criminal world). In author’s opinion, the criminal jargon specifics is the reflection of the criminal world subculture specificity, the degree of its organization, professionalization and adaptation to modern realities. The benefit of the study is the defined specific features of the criminal jargon and the identified 19 jargon words (out of the analysed 67 jargon lexical units) used in «Oliver Twist» which are considered to be main, they are: kinchin lay,
cracksman, Stone Jug, morrice, crack, crib, peach, trap, beak, blunt, glim, put-up robbery, gammon, jolly, lifer, nab, prig, rum, swag. The author notes that there are 4 criminal jargon words, used in «Oliver Twist», which have no literary English equivalent, namely: kinchin lay, Stone Jug, cracksman, morrice. Moreover the table of a general number of jargon words’ usage in «Oliver Twist» is given in the article.


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Author Biography

Nataliia Serdiuk, Pereiaslav-Khmelnytsky Hryhorii Skovoroda State Pedagogical University

Ph.D. in Pedagogy, Associate
Professor, Associate Professor of the
Department of Foreign Philology,
Translation and Teaching Methods

How to Cite
Serdiuk, N. (2020). Criminal jargon lexis in the original novel by Charles Dickens «Oliver Twist». Theoretical and Didactic Philology, (32), 133-142. Retrieved from