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.

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not only because it helps me better understand the Victorian period, but also because it helps me in my reading of historical documents.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.