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Regency Slang Revealed: Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue & Later Versions - Organised & Indexed Paperback – June 10, 2016
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I think I've gotten better at it over the years, but one thing is certain - all those helpful dictionaries of words and terms are written in alphabetical order. And getting the Regency close to right has been the work of a year and more, for Regency slang is constant and singular, and changes according to the class and business of the speaker, from a buck to a bum to a bruiser. I own all three of the major versions of Frances Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. His original, I think the first edition was 1789, is terrific and ground-breaking. Two others built on it, extensively, one by some college guys in 1811, the next by the immortal Pierce Egan, the first sportswriter, author of Life in London. Along with diaries and journals of the period, I use them extensively. So great, right? Not really. Because when you're two weeks past your deadline as well as your patience, and you just need one little term to spice up a sentence, heaven help you. All those Post-it tags hanging out of each volume are only a problem. Because you need to know, not the word, but the subject. Are you calling someone a whore? Or a cheat? Even the Kindle versions aren't much help. If they're readable, a big if, it's a cumbersome system to feed in key words and hope it produces a great slang term. Overwhelmed with other, more important research, I've often thought of settling in with my dictionaries and journals and OED and 30 pages of notes and doing what Ms.Allen did, a prospect that's grim. I'd be there until Boxing Day.
In this volume, Louise Allen does it for you. Go ahead, buy the dictionaries. They'll give you wonderful additional information on many terms. But buy this as well, and treasure it, because when you're tired and overwhelmed, and the right noun or verb won't come to mind, she comes to the rescue. She states in her introduction that she set out, not to do a scholarly work, but to produce a practical aid. She succeeds, perhaps more than she knows. It is well worth the price.
This means it’s useful if you writing a Regency novel, but not if you are reading one. Frustrating.