Steampunk Canada

Tie up Your Dirigible and Visit for a Spell

Forums

Post Reply
Forum Home > General Discussion > Need Advice on Old British Slang

Erin Latimer
Member
Posts: 34

Hey guys! I'm writing a novel with steampunk elements, and I need a bit of advice about old-timey slang. My characters are young adults, so I basically want the equivalnt of "cool". I know there's "smashing" but I have a couple characters that are a little more casual than that.

Also any other words you can think of in the way of exclaimations. Things like "Gosh!" and "Golly!" don't quite cut it when someone's trying to kill you, and I'm not sure if middle class kids would be cussing? Anything you can contribute would be really appreciated.


Thank you all so much! :D


--

Steampunk blog: http://www.thepunkettes.com/

Personal blog: http://www.museslibrary.blogspot.ca/

January 19, 2013 at 11:10 PM Flag Quote & Reply

PM
Moderator
Posts: 84

It probably depends a lot on the era, and the class and nationality of the characters (and on how realistic you aim to be). English was a good deal more regional 150 years ago than since radio and TV blandified it. There would have been expressions that were peculiar to, say, Scots, or to a county, and others like "Christ!" that no-one would have had trouble recognizing.

We use 'steampunk' to cover roughly 1820-1920, and beyond with alternate histories, so there's a lot of variety in social customs over a period like that. Reading through some contemporary Gothic and adventure stories, of the sort in which people utter exclamations a lot, is probably the best source of examples, while making allowances for people being rather ruder, cruder, and more blasphemous in reality than they were in Victorian literature.

--

¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤
Sent from the analytical engine of
www.PaulMarlowe.com

¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤

January 21, 2013 at 10:26 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Antiquarius
Member
Posts: 17

I totally agree with PM on this. One of my first literary encounters with this type of language was in Rudyard Kipling's "Soldiers Three". You really have to marvel at his skill as a writer to be able to put such colourful dialogue into print !

--

Clock maker and owner of, Antiquarius Antiques & Curiosities.



January 21, 2013 at 3:26 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Lee Ann Farruga
Site Owner
Posts: 282

Erin, I have found that there are quite a few resources by simply googling "Victorian slang".  Just for fun, Horrible Histories has this on Victorian Slang

--

Canadian Queen of Steampunk. Founder of Steampunk Canada.

January 22, 2013 at 6:46 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Erin Latimer
Member
Posts: 34

Thanks to everyone who answered! I could use stuff like "Christ!" for exclaimations. I just have to be careful of other things, since it's young adult literature and cant be too...er, salty. I figured the word "brilliant" for the old timey equivilant of "cool". Do you think they would have said that? I'll have to research the term and where it orignated from.


Lee Ann, that's such a terrific video. Too fun!



--

Steampunk blog: http://www.thepunkettes.com/

Personal blog: http://www.museslibrary.blogspot.ca/

January 22, 2013 at 6:15 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Professor Archibald Floss (AKA Mental Floss Sideshow)
Member
Posts: 8

Being a Brit I have some ideas for you, just of the top of my head:

"Blimey", "Cor blimey", "Cor blimey, luv a duck", "Balderdash", "Poppycock", "Blithering idiot", "Ecky thump" (northern term), etc.

I hope these help.

--


January 30, 2013 at 6:38 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Lee Ann Farruga
Site Owner
Posts: 282

Fantastic! I'm sure to find a time to use "Blithering idiot". Thanks.

--

Canadian Queen of Steampunk. Founder of Steampunk Canada.

January 31, 2013 at 7:29 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Erin Latimer
Member
Posts: 34

That's perfect! Pretty much what I was looking for! :D Cor blimey!

--

Steampunk blog: http://www.thepunkettes.com/

Personal blog: http://www.museslibrary.blogspot.ca/

February 1, 2013 at 5:00 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Hellscape
Member
Posts: 1

you could also use ...vexed (angry - irate) champion (great -terrific) bloody hell (expletive!) naff (no good - rubbish -tacky)

If you want more examples look up http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polari, Polari was a form of British slang

February 3, 2013 at 7:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Erin Latimer
Member
Posts: 34

Champion is actually pretty good! It's almost like the old fashioned equivlent of "cool". Might use that one, thanks so much!

--

Steampunk blog: http://www.thepunkettes.com/

Personal blog: http://www.museslibrary.blogspot.ca/

February 4, 2013 at 12:56 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Phileas Flash
Member
Posts: 1

Another Brit putting in his oar:
Crikey! Humbug! Cripes! Jimeny! By Jove! Good Grief! Blinkin' Norah! Bleedin' hell! Crimeny! 
For some upper class southern chappies saying cool you could also use terms like; Corker, Top hole, Top notch, Tip Top.
Also try watching Ripper Street (on Saturday's Space channel), it's probably got the most authentic use of Victorian slang I've ever seen.
Hope it helps,
ta-ta, chin chin, tally ho and toodlepip! 

--

Steampunk balloon twister and entertainer
http://www.flashballoons.com/

February 25, 2013 at 3:48 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Erin Latimer
Member
Posts: 34

That's great! (I really like "corker" for some reason). I'll be sure to look up Ripper Street. Alas, I have no cable...

--

Steampunk blog: http://www.thepunkettes.com/

Personal blog: http://www.museslibrary.blogspot.ca/

March 5, 2013 at 11:32 PM Flag Quote & Reply

You must login to post.