The Polari Dictionary

Steampunk writers and actors who are interested in adding a bit of historically accurate flavor to their characters’ linguistics will be particularly interested in tonight’s post. In the Victorian era, there was a lexicon used by an impressive assortment of interesting people in Britain including actors, circus and fairground showmen, criminals, prostitutes, and by the gay subculture.

It was called Polari and though it’s origins are hard to pin down, it is believed that the slang was used as early as the the 16th century and was particularly prevalent during the 19th century. The reasons for the use of the language and the history behind it is a particularly interesting one (even by my history major standards!) so do be sure to check out Polari: A Sociohistorical Study of the Life and Decline of a Secret Language, an undergraduate dissertation by Ms. Heather Taylor of the University of Manchester.

To start sprinkling Polari into your latest character creation, be sure to visit and thoroughly peruse the Polari Dictionary.

20 Obsolete Words

Anyone who has had to study for a post high school entrance exam such as the SAT or GRE knows the frustration of memorizing vocabulary words. Though some of these words might be useful in everyday conversation, many of the words on study lists are entirely too obscure and are rarely used for anything other than as questions on these annoying required exams. I’m quite convinced that some of these words were made up solely for the purpose of destroying the souls of college hopefuls.

Needless to say, I’m not a fan of standardized testing, or of vocabulary that doesn’t succeed in communicating a message to one’s audience. But if you are among strangers and want to confuse the hell out of them, or you have a Steampunk “character” that you play whose jargon hasn’t been updated by modern exposure, today’s article may be able to help you in your venture.

20 Obsolete English Words that Should Make a Comeback by Heather Carreiro is an article at Matador Abroad that features 20 words that have fallen out of fashion, but that the writer feels could be resurrected and have a special place in modern linguistics. To the right Steampunk, this article could be just the thing for putting the finishing touches on a character they are acting or writing in a piece of fiction.

I’m sure some of you will deliciate corrading some new words from this article. Just don’t come running to me if your friends kench at your ludibrious vocabulary.

Oxford English Dictionary Adds Steampunk

This week, Time Magazine announced the new words that made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, and the term Steampunk was among them! Check out the full list here:

Congratulations, ladies and gentlemen, now we’re really official! Or, at least as official as the “Interwebs” “bromance” “social media” and “microblogging”! Yay!

Manly Slang from the 19th Century

Today I have an interesting blog highlight from the makers of The Art of Manliness, a blog that specializes in all things manly.

There’s some really interesting stuff here at this blog, from instructions to how to jump from a speeding car, how to delegate, to advice on being able to tell if the lady you are currently courting is the one. Yes, there’s an incredible span of fare at The Art of Manliness for the modern man, but something here recently caught my eye: Manly Slang from the 19th Century.

There’s a wealth of slang here that Steampunks, both men and rough-around-the-edges women, will find interesting. They explain what the term means, as well as using it in context so that you can successfully incorporate some of these period colloquialisms into your Steampunk vocabulary. As a trained historian, I find these sorts of things interesting not only because it helps me better understand the Victorian period, but also because it helps me in my reading of historical documents.

If you like what you’ve seen here at The Art of Manliness so far, I’d highly recommend considering signing up for their daily email updates. Not only will you stay up to date on all things manly, but you will also receive two ebooks as thanks for your signing up: The Guide to Being a Gentleman and the Man Cookbook. What Steampunk gentleman wouldn’t be interested in receiving this valuable reading material? And honestly, ladies, there’s some good information in both for you as well if you are interested.