1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    How would an Earl's son address people and vice versa?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Link the Writer, Dec 27, 2011.

    I want to try to tackle my Elizabethan era mystery again with my protag, Edwin, son of Earl Andrew Timmerman.*

    The question is, how would the boy address people? His parents? Would he call them "Mother" and "Father"? (I don't know if he'd call them 'mum' and 'dad' instead. Doesn't seem that formal for an Earl's son.)

    How would he address servants? Being a nice fella, he's not going to be tyrannical around them, but would he likely say, "You there, fetch xyz!"

    Thoughts?

    * Is it going to piss off a lot of people if I just make up an Earl rather than use an already-existing Earl of the time and give him a made-up son?
     
  2. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I can't say with any authority, it would easily depend on what sort of person he is.

    For reference, though, you might want to check out Shakespeare's History Plays, particularly the King Henry IVs.
     
  3. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    If he's nobility, he'd be taught elocution, which is how to speak the Queen's English like a "proper" person. "Mother" and "Father" would definitely be his modes of address, but in public he'd likely refer to them as "Ma'am" (which would be where the "mum" would have come from in common use, I'm sure) and "Sir". If his father or someone in authority (like a tutor, I don't mean like a cop) gave him an instruction, regardless of where they were, it'd be a "Yes, sir."

    Respect would be of the foremost importance.

    In speaking to servants, he'd likely make his requests in the form of suggestions: If he wanted a sandwich, he'd ask, "May I have a sandwich?" or "Would you be so kind as to make me a sandwich?" Something like that. If the servants are largely disconnected from the family, you'd be even more formal and direct with it: "I'd like you to bring a platter of sandwiches to the parlour for my guests and I."

    And no, nobody will get annoyed that you're making up an Earl. You're allowed to do that with historical fiction.
    However, my search of Behind the Name's surname database didn't return anything on "Timmerman" which makes me unlikely to believe an Earl would hold that surname. They'd have something that would convey a regal meaning, a historical meaning, or something utterly non-peasantlike. "Thatcher" or "Fisher", for example, would never be noble last names since they're lower professions.
     
  4. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Also, if your story is set in the Elizabethan era, he would have his family name as well as the place he was born. Like 'Henry Bolingbroke of Lancaster', would also be referred to as 'Henry Lancaster'.
     
  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Ah, the names. I always seem to have trouble with that. I'm on the hunt for a good nobe surname now. One does sound promising: Giscard. I'll keep looking for more.

    So, in private he'd call his parents "mother" and "father, but in public he'd call them "ma'am" and "sir"? Okay, makes sense.

    I guess the "ma'am" and "sir" also applies to anyone of the nobility he'd be talking too. (would guards count? I guess so since they likely held offices themselves.)

    But what of commoners like blacksmiths? Or on the lower rung, the homeless beggars?

    EDIT @ Lemmy- Ah, I see, I see. So the county/place is what decides his family name? So, if he were born in Yorkshire, he'd be Edwin of Yorkshire/Edwin Yorkshire?
     
  6. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I'm using Shakespeare's Henry IV part one as a reference here.

    Names are tricky because they usually have at least 3 names. Take King Henry IV. He is also Bolingbroke, Harry, and Henry Lancaster. His son is Henry, Harry, and Hal, and Harry Monmouth, after his own place of birth.

    Blacksmiths, I'm honestly not sure. I'll try and find out for you.

    But if you want to find out how commoners talked the best place is Henry IV part one, act 2, scene 1.
     
  7. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like Giscard. Sounds nice.
    You could probably actually get away with "Mother" and "Father" even in public, but direct instructions would result in "sir".
    I don't know about guards. People who've been knighted would obviously be "sir", and yeah, other nobles would be "sir". Respect is the foremost important teaching, remember.
    The homeless would be ignored, for the most part. If a noble appears in public, they're probably on a horse or something; they're escorted by at least two guards. The homeless wouldn't have the audacity to be noticeable by a noble, unless you've got a really awesome noble who's all like, "Why is that man homeless? GET THAT MAN A JOB."
    Merchants and such might be "Sir" and "Ma'am" if he's an extra nice kid, but they might not get any formal address. Really, they're just more servants. "I'd like you to do this ..." "I'd like this ..." So on, so forth. However, being that he has servants, he'd just send them out on errands. He has too much writing and reading to learn at home, I should say. And he'll need to learn to ride and hunt and all that.
    Not Edwin Yorkshire. Edwin OF Yorkshire. It's important to the nobility because it defines the area they come from, thereby determining what kind of station they're at. Impoverished areas wouldn't have as much standing, you see.
     
  8. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    ^ Actually it could be either. In Richard II Bolingbroke is called Henry of Lancaster and Henry Hereford in Act 1, scene 1.
     

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