18th Century Language

If you follow me on twitter, you might have wondered if I had gone of the proverbial deep end lately with my talk of finding 18th century equivalents to 21st century words.

Well, there was a perfectly good explanation – mostly.

You see, my new novel Through the Library Door which will be released on Feb 7th, is a unique twist of modern and antiquated language. The heroine – Landria – is from our time, the hero – Nicholas – is from an erotic novel that takes place in the 1700s. The trick was to make sure he sounded as though he was from the 18th century without making his words so difficult to understand that he sounded like he was speaking another language.

Some words were easier to find than others. The hardest to find were terms for genitalia. Even harder was when I found that they used the same word as us (example: pussy), but it was considered so vulgar only the lower classes would use it – not a nobleman. To say it was hard would be putting it lightly. (No, I didn’t mean his cock, I meant finding the terms… though Nicholas is – never mind… where was I?)

The hardest thing was to figure out what words he could use without sounding too modern and what words I would have him use and yet have the reader still understand. I have read stories before where the language is so historically correct that I felt as if I should have a dictionary nearby just to get through – which usually meant I put the book down and never picked it up again. I don’t want my readers to go through that.

Want some for instances of 18th century euphemisms?

A man’s balls? His twiddle-diddles. (yeah, I heard a few giggles there)
Term for Naked? Abram
Madam or head of a Brothel? Abbess
A girl who is pregnant? It was said that she sprained her ankle.
Breasts? Bosoms or Apple Dumplin Shop (which I found real weird).

So, see, there was a reason I was obsessed with it for a week or two or, err okay, so I am a bit obsessed still. I find words fascinating; how they are said, how they came to be. Some of the words I found in this old dictionary meant the same things as today, some meant the exact opposite.

But, enough with that. So, who wants to cly the jerk?

Cly the jerk = be whipped.

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