Anti-languages may be understood as extreme versions of social dia­ lects. They tend to arise among subcultures and groups that occupy a marginal or precarious position in society, especially where the central activities of the group place them outside the law. Often the subculture or group (the ‘anti-society’) has an antagonistic rela­ tionship with society at large and their natural suspicion of out­ siders makes it difficult to study their language; but some examples have been documented – notably the language of Polish prison life (grypserka) and that of the Calcutta underworld. In addition to these relatively contemporary cases, some historical records survive of a variety known as ‘pelting speech’ – an argot employed by roving bands of vagabonds in Elizabethan England.