Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Word Choices

My Bluebeard story, title changed to The Forbidden Chamber -- was Bluebeard's Hunger, is set in England, 1823. Striking a balance between using terminology of that day while still keeping the modern reader interested can be tricky. For instance, the term "making love" as a euphemism for sex is relatively new. One of my favorite sources to check on etymology is the Online Etymology Dictionary. It dates that use of the term at around 1950.

However, when someone asked me if the term "chopping block" was around in 1823 (yes, Bluebeard is a dark story), references to the Tower of London beheadings at the block can be found before that date.

But here's an interesting resource, written in 1811. It gives authentic everyday, vulgar language definitions. Pretty cool resource for writing historicals. Check out the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, by Captain Grose et al. This does have the chopping-block:
"He or she sits like a toad on a chopping-block." There are a bunch of really good words, or cant, listed here. I like this one : SLUICE YOUR GOB. Take a hearty drink.