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A secret jargon used by traditionally itinerant people in Great Britain and Ireland, based on systematic inversion or alteration of the initial consonants of Gaelic words. Also called Cant, Gammon.

[From Shelta Sheldrū, perhaps alteration of Irish Gaelic béarla, language, English, from Old Irish bélrae, language, from bél, mouth.]


(Languages) a secret language used by some itinerant tinkers in Ireland and parts of Britain, based on systematically altered Gaelic
[C19: from earlier sheldrū, perhaps an arbitrary alteration of Old Irish bēlre speech]


(ˈʃɛl tə)

a private language, based in part on Irish, used among Travelers in the British Isles.
[1875–80; orig. uncertain]
References in periodicals archive ?
This, she holds, is on account of ,other ethnicities, which she explores via languages: Irish Gaelic, Hiberno-English, Shelta (of Travelling People), Yola (from Co.
Metel Ma Shelta A group of Lebanese graphic designers get clever with a very serious Lebanese problem: littering.
For hundreds of years, the Gypsies of the show's title, the Irish Travellerswho speak their own language of Shelta, a English dialect with heavy Irish/Gaelic influenceshave led a marginalized existence throughout the British Isles.
Insisting that Irish Travellers are not Gypsies or Roma, Burke acknowledges, with admirable care and sensitivity, their actual "otherness": the language called Shelta or Cant; a distinctive oral tradition; and unique cultural practices around marriage, the extended family, death, and more.
I did so myself when I recorded the Traveller language, called Shelta by many academics and Cant by most Travellers.