1. Virginia Slim
    Offline

    Virginia Slim New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Yorkshire in the glorious north of England

    Words children might use

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Virginia Slim, Jan 21, 2011.

    I'm writing a very adult story and one character is a 12 year old boy. To complicate things, it's set in 1920.

    I've been trying to think of expletives that such a child might reasonably use when frustrated, for instance, the boy might say: "Jack is, real, real dumb."

    Can anyone think of any other words (besides 'dumb') that might be feasible for a child in 1920?

    Many thanks, Virginia Slim
     
  2. Spring Gem
    Offline

    Spring Gem Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2010
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Do a search for slang of 1920s. The same info seems to be repeated on several sites, but the list is good. Also check out some of the "Our Gang" or "Little Rascals" movies. I'm not saying these are typical ways that children interacted during those times, but you can get an idea of some of the slang that was popular back then.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. evelon
    Offline

    evelon Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    Messages:
    613
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    England

    Depends a lot on the character. Has he been properly schooled? What background is he from? Is he an intelligent boy? Does he have any social skills?

    In any event, the word 'dumb' doesn't quite seem right. I don't think it would have been used in that way then.


    Perhaps you need to read books from that era.
     
  4. Mallory
    Offline

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    Messages:
    4,274
    Likes Received:
    191
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    I know my mom and her siblings would say "Smooth move, ex-lax" when someone screwed up -- this was in the 1960s though.
     
  5. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    I think youtube has Goodbye Mr Chips from 1939 on it.

    My Gran's lot (who were about the same time frame in the UK) - would be begger, bloody, pigs melt, dunce probably instead of dumb. Plus a few more I can't think right now lol They didn't swear very much would have got into massive trouble for it.
     
  6. PurpleCandle
    Offline

    PurpleCandle Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
    Messages:
    165
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    NC
    If the story is based in England I do not know..

    But if you are doing something American, you can always go with something southern sounding, even if not in the south.

    "He dumber than a mudpie"

    But remember, children repeat phrases that adults say...but, they repeat them wrong or inappropriate for the situation or skip/mispronounce words.

    Child describing the Great Depression -
    "Since that plane crashed, we ain't had hardly anything to eat"
    "What plane crash"
    "You know, the big plane that crashed on the market, then the banks closed"
     
  7. Virginia Slim
    Offline

    Virginia Slim New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Yorkshire in the glorious north of England
    Thanks for all these excellent suggestions. The story is based in America (where I grew up) so I am looking for American phrases. One I had come across was "dumber than a bucket of nails" which I find myself using at the supermarket...
    The boy is from an educated though not intellectual family. He'd had a good vocabular for a 12 year old.
    I'll watch some of the Our Gang comedy. Maybe re-read Penrod & Sam if I can bear it...(strikes as racist in the 21st century). Thanks again! Virginia Slim
     
  8. Show
    Offline

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    30
    Depends on the kid and when and where it's based. Dialogue in general is different from in 1920. Some kids talk like adults so I think it depends on the kind of kid you're going for.
     
  9. Pen
    Offline

    Pen Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2011
    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    4
    It also depends a lot on who he's addressing- kids in the Twenties would probably mind their Ps and Qs a lot more closely around their parents- even "darn" or similar was probably over the line. Among kids, though, you could probably go quite a distance- "goddamn it" being quite a strong one back then.
     

Share This Page