Evelyn Pryce Talks Slang - Regency Style!

Good morning, dear readers!  If you look at my Coming for Coffee calendar there are the right, you will see that I won't be having any guests for a few weeks. How can I have callers when I will be out of town? First for the Romance Novel Convention in Las Vegas, and then next week I leave for Authors After Dark in Savannah! If you will be at either of these events, be sure to come and say hi!

So since this will be my last visitor for a while, I had to have an extra special guest for you! I became acquainted with Evelyn Pryce when we were both selected as semi-finalists in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, but she had the good fortune - and the great novel! - to go on to the finals! If you love a good Regency romance, you won't find one better than A Man Above Reproach! She joins me today to talk about slang she uses in her novel - all in keeping with the early 19th Century.  Ahhhh....historical accuracy!  Be still my heart!
~Colette 

 The Taradiddle about that Funny Talk

Slang is a fascinating thing. It’s secret language, code. Something that someone says expresses a sentiment, so it gets passed on. Slang words were memes before there were such things. I write and read a lot of history and slang has been always one of my favorite aspects. It’s part archeological tool and part whimsy. Words spring up when they’re needed and disappear into meaninglessness over decades. People started saying “dude” way back in the late 1800s. That one that has endured, though it was initially meant as an Americanized way to say someone was a “dandy.”
            My first novel is a historical romance set in England in 1832 called A Man Above Reproach. During the edit process, I received my Style Sheet. I’ve integrated so much Regency slang, I hadn’t given the first thought to how many phrases or words I used that would be unfamiliar to the modern ear. That is, I hadn’t thought of it until I received the giant list of unusual words in my book that was a part of the hilariously titled “Style Sheet for A Man Above Reproach.”
            I used both “addlebrained” and “addlepated.” Regular Regency readers won’t be mystified by “ton,” “beau monde,” or “cut direct,” but I still went back and clarified their meaning for readers who may be unacquainted. I managed to squeeze a lot of words I love into A Man Above Reproach, like: harridan, missish, rakehell, and lightskirt. Those are pretty easily sussed out with use of context clues, but they all sound musical to
me, a tinkling quality missing from a lot of modern slang. (You can “suss” out those words, or you can “grok” them, a term invented by Heinlein that originally meant, “to intimately and completely share the same reality or line of thinking with another physical or conceptual entity” [wiki] but is used today to mean, roughly, “understand.”)
            My next book has a very naughty hero, so I’ve been looking up lots of slang used to call someone a drunkard. The Regency/Victorian people made it so much more interesting than we do, I think. He could be “a trifle disguised” (just a bit soused) or “ape-drunk” (completely in one’s cups), both phrases used by Georgette Heyer. I’m partial to “foxed.” He could be “bosky” or “properly shot in the neck,” if you want a bit of quirkiness. It’s fun to look at those phrases and try to see if you can think like they did back then—why would someone who was drunk be called “properly shot in the neck?” From the drooping head of an inebriated person, wilted neck, snoozing? That’s my best guess, but good luck finding the explanation for that in a Google search. (I tried, it wasn’t pretty.)
            Anyway, words are fun. My thanks to Colette for letting me ramble on her space of the web. If you want to buy my book or talk about words, you can find it and me below!           

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About the Author

Evelyn Pryce lives in Pittsburgh, where she founded a charity organization that raises money for literacy and supports artists. In the past, she wrote comics and fronted rock bands. She studies history and literature at one of America’s many universities. In her spare time, she reads, blogs, gardens, and attempts to cook. She is not as domesticated as she sounds.

Connect with Evelyn:
Twitter: @evelynpryce


Comments

  1. I do like a bit of cant; indeed, my own name is derived from Georgian slang!

    ReplyDelete

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