Another riveting Fact of the Day:
Shelta is an esoteric jargon based on Irish and Gaelic, and it is still spoken by tinkers and vagrants in some parts of Ireland and England.
‘Kay. I haven’t any problem with the idea of an “esoteric jargon” existing. Dialects and sub-dialects are used all around the World. Your garden-variety “esoteric jargon is not a surprise.
This is the part about which I am dubious – there are still tinkers? Vagrants persist, yes – despite the old-fashioned description. But TINKERS?
Tinkers used to travel about the countryside selling and repairing pots, pans, utensils and farming tools. It seems the whole Home Depot concept (or even the neighborhood hardware store) would render the “tinker” concept obsolete. Yes, we use the WORD as such:
verb [ intrans. ] attempt to repair or improve something in a casual or desultory way, often to no useful effect : he spent hours tinkering with the car.
[ trans. ] archaic attempt to mend (something) in such a way.
But some wee wizened (they just have to be wizened, I don’t know WHY) tradesperson carrying wares and tools with which to repair a customer’s – uhm, metal things- in a cart or in baskets or bags? Would there be a donkey, ass or other beast of burden involved?
Okay, okay – several sources assert that a “tinker” is a pejorative term for “Irish Traveller” (not unlike “Gypsies” – another derogatory term used to describe the Roma people and other ethnic nomadic peoples of the world – a phrase sometimes mistakenly attributed to Irish Travellers), an itinerant people who still travel throughout Ireland, Great Britain and even the United States. Evidently they refer to themselves as “the Pavee.”
Upon further contemplation I realize that Johnny Depp portrayed a “Traveller” in Chocolat, which makes the concept VERY appealing. Nevertheless, he fixed doors and a boat and was very pleasing to the EYE. I still maintain that the whole pot, pan, utensil-fixing persona is extinct.