Let's imagine that you're writing a story set in the Middle Ages. At one point, one of your characters calls a friend on the phone...the result is that the spell you had created so far with your writing is broken. The relationship with your readers is compromised. 

Probably none would put a phone in a Medieval story, but similar mistakes lie in ambush when you use words that sound too modern or too ancient for your fic's times.

AlphaDictionary (http://www.alphadictionary.com/slang/) is a very good site to check how your characters would have talked in different times. Let's pick some examples:

According to AlphaDictionary, Edward Masen (1901-1918) would have said that "The moment he saw Bella he fell for her like a ton of bricks," or that he was "carrying a torch for her," or again, that he was "stuck on her."

Bella's parents, Charlie and Renée, met and fell in love in the '80s. We might imagine that Charlie happily zerbitted Renée on the neck, leaving on her a love bite and not a deadly wound; he isn't a vampire, after all.

Writers, do you use historical slang in your stories?  
Readers, do you notice it? Do you enjoy it?

Your comments are welcome.

- Raum 
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  1. I've used that site on several occasions. I wish it had more entries. Or maybe the diction of earlier times was not as different from the present as I had been expecting. (E.g. "Fell for her like a ton of bricks" and "Carrying a torch" are phrases that I also often heard even in my twenties - which was not the 'Roaring Twenties'). Even so, I have found it very useful. Here are some more sites I have used when trying to nail down the speech patterns of various times and places in history:

    Dialects of American English:


    Appalachian English, for Emmett:


    Expressions used by soldiers in the Civil War (for Jasper)


    For Carlisle, I go to primary texts of his time period:

    King James Bible

    (I'm too white and nerdy.)

  2. Hi Miaokuancha!

    thank you for your great contribute!!! You've been extraordinary, like always :)

    - Raum

  3. Historical slang is the bane of my life. Because my characters are often Italian. They are living in the past, not today and what they say would not translate well in English. Mostly due to our many dialects, slang is often dialectal here.

    But I could not make them speak in anglo-american dialects, even if I knew it.

    Take Masino, a very angry teenager in the story I am currently writing. Now, in his little rant against his horrible mother and her friend, a teenager of today would probably say fuck and fucking every three words (or their colorful Italian equivalent). But, since he lives in Tuscany, and the year is 1353, what should he say? He probaly would be very blasphemous (as it happened and happens in his region), and I am meaning real blasphemies, calling God and the Virgin names. But that, in English, is a no-no. I finally solved the rant, thank to my wonderful pre.readers, but surely this Alphadictionary could be of help, in the future.

    - Camilla

  4. Hi Camilla,

    Thank you for your comment!

    I'm looking forward seeing the story you mentioned on the web! I know you're writing an amazing, fascinating fic!

    - Raum

  5. This is a site upon which I have relied heavily for the past two years. It amazes me how many expressions of Jasper's time are still current. Edward's slang actually feels more dated at times. lol.

    I, like Mia, wish the site would be expanded.

    Of course, my big story makes heavy use of the Ticuna language. Just try to find sources for Ticuna. I have spent hundreds of hours researching the culture.

    However, authenticity is lent to the work if one is careful with words, especially cultural dialects and slang. You are giving your character a voice.

  6. Hey Jmolly!

    thank you for joining the discussion!
    I love the care you give to every detail in your stories!!

    - Raum

  7. Thank you, dear Raum. You deserve praise for the historical elements of your Romanward. But I should also say your poetry excerpts add so much to the story. They are quite fascinating :)


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