This week’s quote of the fortnight is from Dashiell Hammett’s classic detective novel, Red Harvest. The narrator is Hammett’s unnamed “Continental Op,” who inspired many other private detectives, including Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe.
“I first heard Personville called Poisonville by a red-haired mucker named Hickey Dewey in the Big Ship in Butte. He also called his shirt a shoit. I didn’t think anything of what he had done to the city’s name. Later I heard men who could manage their r’s give it the same pronunciation. I still didn’t see anything in it but the meaningless sort of humor that used to make richardsnary the thieves’ word for dictionary. A few years later I went to Personville and learned better.”