Beware modern slang in historical writing

Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by jannert, Mar 22, 2020.

  1. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Interesting. Some of my students know ASAP as an English word that means you need it right away but are unaware of the origins, but that's going cross-linguistic so it doesn't really count.

    OMG might fall under the "god" taboo, I knew some older folks who would say things like "Just fix the gee dee thing already," with gee dee (G-D-) standing in for "God-damned".

    But we're in a time when the percentage of our daily communication that is non-verbal, i.e. written, has ramped up dramatically. When I was in boot camp in the late 80s (the height of my letter-writing phase since phone use was forbidden) I was writing 3-4 pages of handwritten letters a week. I probably average that much a day in email, forum, and social media postings now. Remember the controversy (for illustrative purposes only) over Hillary Clinton's emails? 31,380 deleted messages. We don't know how long they were, but that's a lot of non-verbal communication for patterns to slip over from into our speech.
     
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  2. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Amateur Human Contributor

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    Apparently I use MIA and AWOL interchangeable.
    I can never remember what AWOL stands for . But in my mind (and what tv has lead me to believe), it's just another "word" for missing -shrugs-
     
  3. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    None of these are explicatives, though, in the way Niven uses tanj as an explicative. Explicatives are a class of words unto themselves that follow their own rules for how and why they come to be. Clearly acronyms are a thing, most especially in the U.S. and the rest of Anglophonia rarely spares us the sentiment that they'd love it if we stopped. But again, explicatives are another thing and when they arise out of an acronym, it's an even rarer event. The one that Moose mentioned, ADASTW, is actually another good example. It's not a 4-letter word that's being hidden, but it certainly is a crass sentiment that answers to gallows humor and likely would not be remotely appreciated by the family of the deceased.
     
  4. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Absent WithOut Leave. Taking an extended weekend, skipping formation, that sort of thing.

    Missing In Action. "We are bugging out, get to the chopper, move move MOVE! Okay, everybody here? Where's Johnson? Fuck, anybody seen Johnson? Goddamnit, call off the napalm, we still got a man out there!"
     
  5. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Amateur Human Contributor

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    ....so, missing:superagree:
     
  6. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I have misplaced my pants.... Contributor

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    Usually by way of desertion. Or in minor cases, hangovers and syphilis.
     
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  7. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    I had this challenge in writing the E&D. I did want to introduce some Latin, but I kept it to a minimum, and always immediately translated on first use "What is that fellator cocksucker doing here?" usually for some purpose. This was in the mouth of the Senator who NEVER used foul language. It's a balance, and less is much better.

    I had an interesting criticism on my dialogue, not with the Latin, but with the English. I had someone say in dialogue that someone "would grow old and crotchety." And with full bombast the critic declared that "crotchety" did not come into English usage until the 18th century, and it was therefore out of step with time. I had to point out to her that
    a. They weren't speaking English, but Latin, translated into modern English
    b. Latin has a verb perascuere (I had to look it up, not a common one, and certainly not one I would use) which literally means "to become old and bitter," very nicely approximating "to become crotchety."

    Always a challenge writing historical fiction. BTW, y'all, I passed 130K words on the sequel to the E&D, meaning I am about halfway through the first draft!
     
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