Lifestyle Lessons: Victorian Slang

Hello, readers,

Here’s a point about the lolita lifestyle that I’ve always seen as controversial. If you want to live a lolita lifestyle, do you have to “speak like a lady?” There are lots of other ways to word this sort of idea. Sometimes I just see people saying that lolitas shouldn’t swear or talk about “crude things” like sex or alcohol (even outside of meets), and sometimes I see people suggesting that everyone speak with a contrived lady-of-the-manor vocabulary.

Personally, I don’t think either approach makes practical sense. (Especially the first one. Don’t ever feel like your lifestyle is restricting your life.) However, I am a big proponent of finding and incorporating old-fashioned things into my own life. Specifically, I am interested in Victorian England.

Without further ado, I present you with the fabulous book! It is a dictionary of Victorian slang and colloquial phrases.

(You can try and read this book while on my blog, but I recommend you just go to the book on Archive.org. It will be a lot easier to read. Curse you, limited embedding functionality!)

There is a pretty, modern reprint that’s known as Ware’s Victorian Dictionary of Slang and Phrase, but its original title was Passing English of the Victorian Era: A Dictionary of Hererodox English, Slang, and Phrase. You could buy a physical copy of this book if you wanted to (I’m sure it would look fantastic on any bookshelf), but you can read the whole thing online for free thanks to Archive.org. There is also a less expensive, less pretty paperback reprint just called The Victorian Dictionary of Slang & Phrase.

From what I’ve casually read about the author, it seems that James Redding Ware was a journalist that tried to record all the lovely slang he remembered being in use during the 19th century before it disappeared forever. I, for one, am very grateful for his efforts. This book was first published in 1909, so it’s probably safe to assume that most of this slang was in use during the mid- to late-Victorian era. Potentially, some of these words and phrases were already obsolete by the time this dictionary was published.

I like going through this book and seeing if there are any expressions that I’d like to take up again. There is a lot of combing that you have to do to find really good ones (I think “basket of oranges” is very funny), but it’s also possible to find some slang terms that we still use today. Some notable ones located in the B section are “bad egg,” “to back down,” “to badger,” and “bark up the wrong tree.” A lot of those were originally American phrases, and they are still in use here. Also, If you look up “Tom,” it’s easy to see how we got tomboy. How cool is that!

Anyway, I just wanted to write up this quick little post to share something amazing with all of you. I hope you go through it and find something wonderful.

Stay bricky,

Raven

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