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Old 09-29-2016, 01:39 PM
Sangahyando Sangahyando is offline
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 2,006
Originally Posted by Kimstu View Post
Yeah, "rag smasher" in the sense of "counterfeiter" seems to have been strictly criminal argot:
A wonderful poem as linked-to above: William Ernest Henley's 19th-century translation into contemporary English thieves' cant, of the verses by the late-medieval French petty-criminal-poet Francois Villon, Tout aux tavernes et aux filles. Definition as mentioned upthread, of expression from this poem: "smash a rag" = "change a false note".

Mention in the linked-to-above, of some obscurity seen in the thieves'-cant terms. My computer skills are poor, and I suck at "linking" -- my recent attempt to do so, didn't seem to be working. However; Google the words "suppose you screeve": some minutes ago as I post this, doing that brought up the first "hit", with the heading: "Villon's Straight Tip To All Cross Coves (Canting Songs)". Clicking on that, brings up the English-thieves'-cant text of the poem; followed by copious notes as to the meanings of the various weird expressions -- including as above, "smash a rag".

Fascinating to me; to whom the English-thieves'-cant verses had hitherto seemed superbly sonorous; but considerably less meaningful than "Jabberwocky".