This is the primitive foundation of all human language — what might be called the granite. Argot swarms with words of this kind, root-words, made out of whole cloth, we know not where nor by whom, without etymology, without analogy, without derivation, solitary, barbarous, sometimes hideous words, which have a singular power of expression, and which are all alive.

Argot, being the idiom of corruption, is easily corrupted. Moreover, as it always seeks disguise so soon as it perceives it is understood, it transforms itself. Unlike all other vegetation, every ray of light upon it kills what it touches. Thus argot goes on decomposed and recomposed incessantly; an obscure and rapid process which never ceases. It changes more in ten years than the language in ten centuries.

All the words of this language are perpetually in flight, like the men who use them.

Victor Hugo, Les Miserables »