SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Polite Victorian Slang

Discussion started on

Does anyone have any resources or web sites to look up polite Victorian slang? I've found plenty of things online for backslang and the seedier sayings, but if I have a "well bred" young lady, I think she wouldn't say "bloody h*ll" or "cor blimey" but I don't know what she'd say in it's place.

Any ideas?

Thank you!
#1 - June 28, 2011, 03:54 PM
Robin

Emeritus
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region newengland
Well, if she's a well-bred young lady, she wouldn't be using slang, at least in the Victorian period.  By the Edwardian era, it might have crept in in a mild way.  She might pick up some from her brothers at Eton or Harrow, which had their own slang usages. 
#2 - June 28, 2011, 04:03 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
www.marissadoyle.com
www.nineteenteen.com

Hm, perhaps I'm wording the question incorrectly. How do you think a well-bred young woman then would express dismay or exclaim? Or would she?
#3 - June 28, 2011, 04:08 PM
Robin

Official Shenaniganizer
Emeritus
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region canadawest
I thought well-bred young ladies in Victorian times were conditioned to just faint dead away??  :faint


hehe sorry.

but knowing what I do about your story, I think Marissa's suggestion of her picking up the slang of those around her would be appropriate, since she's out of her well-bred environment now. And also considering your alternate history aspect, you could create a few choice words of your own derived from that alternate element if you have trouble finding something that fits.
#4 - June 28, 2011, 04:41 PM
« Last Edit: June 28, 2011, 06:55 PM by Artemesia »
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

http://cyndimarko.com
@cynmarko

Besides finding a thesaurus from the period, I recommend reading stories or novels from the era. Library of Congress has some publications on line. This will tell you exactly what people said.
#5 - June 29, 2011, 09:45 AM
LAST SUMMER IN EDEN
Cozy mystery writer for ANNIE'S FICTION and GUIDEPOSTS
www.elizabethpenneyauthor.com

Member.
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region oklahoma
  • SCBWI PAL
The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England by Kristine Hughes is a great resource.

God Bless,
Susan
#6 - July 05, 2011, 09:03 AM
susanameyers.com
Susan York Meyers, Children's and YA Author

I strongly do recommend finding novels or even better, diaries or letters from the period you're aiming at. For example, L. M. Montgomery's diaries are simply rife with slang from the 1890s and 1900s. Maybe not so much curse words, but other words. And there might be a few in there. Of course she was Canadian, so if your character is British, you'd want to find an equivalent source there, and make sure the time period matches too, since the Victorian era was rather long.
#7 - July 05, 2011, 09:52 AM
Author of the Magic Under Glass duology
& Between the Sea and Sky
Dark Metropolis, 6/14
http://jaclyndolamore.blogspot.com

RL

Guest
I've wrestled with a similar problem before. My go-to, can't live without resource was the Oxford Dictionary of Slang by John Ayto. All the entries have a date of usage, which makes it SO helpful to know which word they might have used when. And while a well bred girl might not have used out and out slang, she probably had interjections or exclamations of some kind that she used, such as Oh, rubbish! Piffle!

I also read a number of E. Nesbit books, since she was British and her books were written 1899-1910, and I felt the usage would be similar (my setting was Edwardian). One of the problems I ran into though was that some of the slang she used just felt too over the top. Tommyrot, for example. But it was hugely helpful to see what she used and how she used it.

#8 - July 05, 2011, 09:28 PM

Michaela MacColl

Guest
I'm a big fan of www.victorianlondon.org. There's dictionaries but also full-text indexed victorian novels.
#9 - July 21, 2011, 09:01 PM

LoisP

Guest
Because all my British historicals are about working class people, my go-to book is the Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English.
#10 - October 15, 2011, 03:03 PM


Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region britishisles
So 'cor blimey' is Victorian slang? Crikey. I'm so old-fashioned! I have said that all my life, along with crikey and blimey. I always thought I was born in the wrong era, but I'd never put myself THAT far back! Bloomin' Nora.
#12 - October 15, 2011, 06:01 PM

I recommend Anthony Trollope for all things middle and upper-middle class and aristocratic Victorian. If he didn't use it in his books, it wasn't generally acceptable. (I remember there was one heroine who was upbraided by her family for using the word "fun" ... a terrible piece of slang.) He is dead-on in the mores and standards of his time (Dickens was a bit more outre) and if you're going for accuracy, you can't go wrong studying Trollope.
I'll look for some Trollopean ejaculations for you.
#13 - October 15, 2011, 06:37 PM
Blog: http://lauralsullivan.blogspot.com/
YA: LOVE BY THE MORNING STAR (soon!)
LADIES IN WAITING
MG: Under the Green Hill
Guardian of the Green Hill

I'm reading Trollope's Miss Mackenzie (1865) right now, and the only exclamations the ladies use are "Oh!" "Dear!" and "Good gracious!" and a very respectable baronet's wife says "Pshaw!" when she is vexed. Men might say "D---" (written like that, with only the D and dashes) but a lady wouldn't.
#14 - October 16, 2011, 07:55 AM
Blog: http://lauralsullivan.blogspot.com/
YA: LOVE BY THE MORNING STAR (soon!)
LADIES IN WAITING
MG: Under the Green Hill
Guardian of the Green Hill

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.