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An Argot (from French argot: "slang") or a Cant (also referred to as cryptolect, anti-language, or secret language), is the jargon or language of a group, often specifically employed to exclude or mislead people outside the group. Each term differs slightly in meaning; their use is inconsistent.

The term argot specifically is also used to refer to the informal specialized vocabulary from a particular field of study, occupation, or hobby, in which sense it overlaps with jargon.


The concept of the anti-language was first defined and studied by the linguist Michael Halliday, who used the term to describe the lingua franca of an anti-society. He defined an anti-language as a language created and used by an anti-society1. Halliday defines anti-society is a small, separate community intentionally created within a larger society as an alternative to or resistance of it. Anti-languages are developed by these societies as a means to prevent outsiders from understanding their communication, and as a manner of establishing a subculture that meets the needs of their alternative social structure.

Anti-languages use the same basic vocabulary and grammar as their native language in an unorthodox fashion. For example, anti-languages borrow words from other languages, create unconventional compounds, or utilize new suffixes for existing words. Anti-languages may also change words using metathesis, back formation (e.g. apple to elppa), or by substituting their consonants. Therefore, anti-languages are distinct and unique, and are not simply dialects of existing languages.

See also

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