What’d He Say? Two Centuries of Vulgar Language, Cant, and Slang
One of the things those of us who grew up enjoying (and are still enjoying with rereading) in Georgette Heyer’s Georgian and Regency comedy of manners tales was the cant that the heroes were wont to drop. Now, I’ve heard that Heyer occasionally invented some of the words she used, but that just puts her in the same category as Shakespeare, who invented quite a few himself.
While termed “vulgar language”, “thieves or sporting cant”, or slang, less than proper English has been used around the English-speaking world (Britain, US, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere) for a really long time. But in a novel…ah, there is nothing like dead-on period words to take us time traveling as we turn pages.
Not so surprisingly, the boys in the red jackets not only brought home a few foreign words that had worked their way into their daily conversations while away from home, words that were more related to the lower orders spread even faster as colonists spread out – either of their own choice or not of their own choice (either via the Army or transportation to Australia as the perfect place to empty the gaols (jails for we non-Brits).
What we will do in 4 weeks is trip about from the Regency to the close of the 20th century…or near to it. There are a lot Victorian and Roarin’ Twenties slang words to frolic with before working our way into the decade the Brits ruled the airways and the fashion runways, the 1960s, when things were really gear.
Join me to find out what the heck the heroes in things you read are actually saying, and what terms YOUR characters could be dropping!
Beth Daniels, aka Beth Henderson, J.B. Dane, Nied Darnell - Beth Daniels’ first novel was released in 1990 (Nikrova’s Passion by Beth Henderson). It was a contemporary romantic comedy with suspense and the hero was a Yard copper who frequently fell so far into his use of police slang that the American heroine – and his British family, too – hadn’t the least idea what the heck he was saying. After that there was no stopping her. When she moved into historical romance, she took her love of period perfect “normal people talk” with her, spending hours choosing what American Civil War insults her Northern hero could snarl at the Southern villains he encountered in 1868 Texas. If you got a look at how many slang related books are among her research tomes, you’d pity the poor shelves that have to keep them captive. Her most recent historical headed off to a mining camp in Idaho circa 1863, but it’s in good company from her output under all the names she writes under. Visit her at www.RomanceAndMystery2.com, www.WritingSteampunk.com, and www.Muse2Ms.com