The Underworld



The System

Famous Crime





Victor Hugo was the first to offer an in depth literary analysis of Argot, the language of the underworld.

A rather negative depection of the speakers of Argot. From

"...nothing more nor less...than the ugly, restless, sly, treacherous, venomous, cruel, crooked, vile, deep, deadly language of misery...we can hardly recognize it. It is really the French tounge? The great human tounge? We distinguish questions and answers, we perceive, without understanding, a hideous murmer, sounding almost like human tones, but nearer a howling than speech. This is argot."

-Hugo, Les Miserables, St. Denis, book VII

The term argot exsisted before the Revolution. However, at that point it was only used to define a community of criminals and beggers. It was at the dawn of the Revolution that argot became known as the secret language of the underworld. Why did the underworld need Argot? First, Argot was use to convey a secret message of hide the original meaning of what was being said. For example,

"Le Bourgeoise est stupid!" is French for "The Bourgeosie is stupid!"

"Le dab est sinve!" is Argot for the same.

Also, Argot is a vert metaphoric language. For example, the Argot term for man is "orgue" and the term for night is "sorgue". Gramatically speaking, according to the language of Argot, man is a derivitive of the night. Being able to form their own language by twisting and contorting their native tounge of French allowed the dangerous classes to use language truly as an art.

Click here to see more examples of how Argot compares to French.