Friday, 24 February 2012

Early 19th Century Slang Examples...

The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue-  a Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, an Pickpocket Eloquence by Francis Grose (a soldier) is now available as an e-book on the Project Gutenberg website (*).

There's a short piece in the Telegraph Books section about it's download popularity.

Just reading through a few of the words and their explanations quickly open the world of the past- as long as you remember that not everyone spoke this way all the time, it can start a creative spark for a low-life character, or an immature young man about town- I have a couple of low-life hired men lurking in my brain for a future story...

For the writers among us, we're Brothers of the Quill...Okay, I know we use computers and it should be Sisters of the Quill, but we all know the problems female authors had being taken seriously at that time.

As a left-hander, I'm Caudge-Pawed, but I'm not a Chatter Box- still basically means they talk too much today, as then.

A Cloak Twitcher would suggest a dubious character anyway, and it seems they lurked in dark alleys and lanes to snatch cloaks from passengers- clothes were valuable and a decent cloak would have been expensive to some people.

And how could you describe someone with one eye? They had a single peeper.

There are a lot of words and phrases we'd still recognise now, and others that we may even remember older relatives using.

If it becomes very popular again, who knows what words might start to appear in conversation...:-)

(*) Project Gutenberg works within the American copyright system, so they may have books available to download that are not out of copyright in the UK, so check out any author dates under the Bibrec tab.

4 comments:

Baggy said...

Essential reading for anyone with dialogue dilemmas. It's the use of those words that will bring a period piece alive.

Carolb said...

I so agree Baggy-time travel without any danger...:-)

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for letting us know about it, Carol - great fun and useful!

Carolb said...

I've found some great old books on Gutenberg, Rosemary, that I'd never have found any other way.