1906 slang

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1906 slang

Post by Archived Topic » Sat Nov 13, 2004 5:34 am

I'm currently writting a young adult book based in 1906 and I need to find a dictionary, or someplace on line that will have slang for that time...

Does ANYONE have ANY suggestions on the matter?

Thank you,
Rick
Submitted by Rick Bennett (Redlands - U.S.A.)
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1906 slang

Post by Archived Reply » Sat Nov 13, 2004 5:49 am

Rick, The problem here is that when you do find a slang word that was being used in that time frame, how do you know that it was being used by young adults? – and I’m not sure what ages that includes. Does it include college students? Would slang words from the underworld or jazz be used by youngsters? I’m not sure that youngsters led they way in the use of new slang as they often do today. For example, ‘spon’ is listed as slang for ‘money’ in that era, but how would you know if young adults used that or if it was mostly used by gamblers and the underworld crowd.

If young adults do include college students, I do have some references. At the turn of the century (the previous one), the American Dialect Society performed a comprehensive examination of the language used by college students in the United States. The two main articles that resulted were College Words and Phrases by Eugene Babbit in Dialect Notes, Volume II, Part I (1900) and College Slang Words and Phrases, in Dialect Notes, Volume IV, Part III (1915). Another slightly earlier article on college slang is Student Slang; by Willard C. Gore in Contributions to Rhetorical Theory edited by F. N. Scott (1895).

Flappers 2 Rappers by Tom Dalzell has a section on 1900-1920 slang but you would have to figure out yourself what might have been used by young adults (no example sentences so it might be tough to see exactly how the word was used). The situation is similar with Dew Droppers, Waldos, and Slackers by Rosemarie Ostler, and 20th Century Words by John Ayto (but here not all the words are slang).

And then, if you are into brute force, you could always sift through the 65,000 slang words of Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang by Jonathon Green and hunt for one’s circa your time of interest (every entry has a date of some sort – e.g. early 20th century, 1910s, etc.) and then try to guess what may have been used by a young adult.
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Ken G – June 8, 2004
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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1906 slang

Post by Archived Reply » Sat Nov 13, 2004 6:03 am

My suggestion would be to find popular novels published around the time and set in a similar location to your intended work.

"This approach has the twin benefits of taking advantage of contemporaneous material and highlighting examples of usage in a well-defined context." The chief possibility of any difficulty with this approach that I can foresee will arise when/if the authors of the works in question themselves fail to pay sufficient attention to the contextual exactness of their characters' speech - although if you have enough sources to compare against each other, it should still be possible for you to get a pretty good idea of what colloquial expressions were current in 1906, and among whom.

I think this would be both a quicker, simpler, and more enjoyable approach than Ken's suggestion of scanning 65,000 slang dictionary entries and then still having to guess who exactly might have used the corresponding expression, and in what situation.
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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1906 slang

Post by Archived Reply » Sat Nov 13, 2004 6:32 am

Sounds like benefits fraud to me, Erik. Do you design Government forms? My friends would like a bigger space in which to make their mark.
Reply from Edwin Ashworth (Oldham - England)
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