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Topic: Question about language in romance novels.

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Subject: Question about language in romance novels.
Date Posted: 4/2/2008 1:39 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
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I haven't read many romance novels, but I read a historical romance (my favorite when I DO read them) a year or two ago that made me curious about something. The book (probably late 1800s) was describing an "intimate" scene between the man and woman and I was surprised that some terminology for certain body parts seemed kind of modern to me. However, in reality I have no idea what words a 19th Century person would use in these cases. Maybe certain terms really have been used for many many years. Are there any history buffs here who might know a bit about this? It's kind of a weird question, but I am curious. I read a lot of classics and like to learn about differences in language as time passes, but generally the classics don't go into any graphic detail about intimate relationships! :-D
Date Posted: 4/2/2008 2:37 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
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Quite a lot of the words we consider crude or dirty have been around for centuries.  If you're really interested, you could check out an OED at your library to see the first usages of words.  There may also be research works that go into this.  Writers can and do get a lot of things wrong in historicals, of course, but I wouldn't necessarily assume they have in this case.

Date Posted: 4/2/2008 2:55 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2006
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Since copulating has been around since time began, most words describing this activity are also older than dirt.

Chances are that the author has already done the research and the words are appropriate to the time period. It still doesnt prevent ignorant readers from bothering an author over their use of "shag" in a book set in the 19th century just because they heard Austin Powers use it first, however.

Date Posted: 4/2/2008 5:56 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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there's another thread on here somewhere but forgot the title :-( shere someone thought the vulgar language wast too modern but someone posted that it'd been around a long time...was interesting..I'll see if I can find it..probably several pages down by now..

Date Posted: 4/2/2008 6:44 PM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2007
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It bothers me more when I read that someone has so many kids because he's "viral."  Um, yeah - and "infecting" every woman he sees.

Date Posted: 4/2/2008 6:56 PM ET
Member Since: 1/5/2008
Posts: 140
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Sharon - it wasn't virile? 

definition:   having the nature, properties, or qualities of an adult male; specifically : capable of functioning as a male in copulation

Date Posted: 4/2/2008 7:17 PM ET
Member Since: 1/11/2007
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viral . . . now that WOULD be funny.  I'd say that's an author in need of a good editor =O



Last Edited on: 4/2/08 7:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/2/2008 10:16 PM ET
Member Since: 11/13/2005
Posts: 1,950
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Viral, LOL!!

I wrote in another post about the etymology of certian sex terms, but basically the vast majority of those terms that you might think of as modern slang have been around for quite some time, actually.

The etymology of c*nt dates to the 1200's, and cu*ny, an alternate form was especially widely used in England during the Regency and Victorian eras. F*ck is harder to trace the origins, but it was absolutly around by at least the 1600's. Pu*sy was used as a term of endearment for a female as early as 1500's, and was used as slang for genitialia by at least the 1700's. C*ck was used as slang for penis since the 1600's.

 



Last Edited on: 4/2/08 10:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/2/2008 10:33 PM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2007
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Sharon - it wasn't virile? 

Nope - it was viral.  An obvious slip, but the editor didn't catch it.  I kind of winced when I saw it, because this viral man was standing in a large group of people, in an age when cold remedies didn't exist.

Samantha - have you ever read The Pearl?  Victorian erotica - and the language is interesting to say the least.

Date Posted: 4/2/2008 10:54 PM ET
Member Since: 11/13/2005
Posts: 1,950
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I have read parts of it, and I have The Romance of Lust which is another fairly well known Victorian erotica. Very bawdy humor, to say the least ;)

Date Posted: 4/2/2008 11:18 PM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2007
Posts: 8,942
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I have read parts of it, and I have The Romance of Lust which is another fairly well known Victorian erotica. Very bawdy humor, to say the least ;)

And geez - what was with all the flagellation?  Those Victorians just loved to get a beating!

Date Posted: 4/2/2008 11:27 PM ET
Member Since: 11/13/2005
Posts: 1,950
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LOL!! No, a bit o' spanking is one thing, but all the real knicker tearing thrashings is truly weird. I think the Victorians enjoyed it so much because it helped with their guilt...not to mention that they used to spank schoolboys for getting erections in school. I guess they came to associate spankings with woodies *snort*

Date Posted: 4/3/2008 1:23 AM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2008
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that usage of viral reminded me of a slip i caught in a book i recently read.  twice in the book it said 'balled out' where it should have said 'bawled out'.  ack!

Date Posted: 4/3/2008 12:19 PM ET
Member Since: 1/11/2007
Posts: 1,646
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I think this is the older thread someone else was referencing.  Hope it works.

 

www.paperbackswap.com/forum/topic.php

Date Posted: 4/3/2008 1:49 PM ET
Member Since: 1/11/2007
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I think I had a copy of the Pearl eons ago.  Don't remember what happened to it. 

Date Posted: 4/3/2008 2:18 PM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2007
Posts: 215
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I don't know if historcially correct but... I hate when I'm reading a historical romance (usually set in England) and the hero calls the heroine "baby".   ARGH!!  it's so annoying.  It doesn't happen often, I don't know why it annoys me.  Probably, b/c I think that endearment is a more modern term. 

Give me "my love", "love", "my dear" or "darling" any day!! 

Date Posted: 4/4/2008 10:40 AM ET
Member Since: 1/11/2007
Posts: 1,646
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Lisa,

 

I've never encountered "baby" as an endearment in a historical.  That's so anachronistic that I would hope an editor would catch it.  Which author does this?

 

 

Date Posted: 4/4/2008 3:11 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2006
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I've never encountered "baby" as an endearment in a historical.  That's so anachronistic that I would hope an editor would catch it.  Which author does this?

 

Not Lisa but Nan Ryan does this as one example.

Date Posted: 4/4/2008 4:56 PM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2007
Posts: 215
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I'm glad someone had an example.  I can't remember which author did it.  I think it was one I hadn't read before and definately am not wanting to try her again!