Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tech Tops -- Yet again words ... #3

I'm returning to word usage in TSL.

Franzeca Drouin, Eloisa's research assistant, brings these to me.

Her site is here, go check it out.

p 239. & elsewhere "front room." It's in OED, but in early reference simply indicates the more attractive rooms in the front of a structure, probably for public use. I don't think it refers to the large gathering place in a contemporary house. "Sitting Room" or even "parlor" would be a workable substitute for that.

This accords with the meaning I intend. I get the same subtext from 'front room' that Franzeka talks about. My Southern aunts had a 'front room' where they received guests.

The 'front room' at Meeks Street is a stiff, over-decorated room at the front. It's deliberately uncomfortable ... used to discourage visitors. The agents relax in the study upstairs or in the library on the ground floor. I'll keep 'sitting room' and 'parlor' in mind for talking about the rooms they use to congregate in.

page 249: Turkish robe; did you find that somewhere? I found an early 20th century reference to Turkish toweling, but not to a robe. "chenille" wouldn't work, either..

I have been thinking lately of circa 1800 bath towels,
in which I am now a very minor expert.

I have a reference to 'Turkish towel' in Night Scenes of City Life by DeWitt Talmadge, pub. 1801,
To whit: "Brisk criticism is a coarse Turkish towel with which every public man needs every day to be rubbed down, in order to keep healthful circulation." There seem to be other solid refs to this sort of Turkish towel in the early decades of the 1800s.

I am delighted to know they had hefty decent towels because huck towels just don't do it for me.
Anyhow. I feel that I have the towels. Future scenes in baths can include this detail.

I suppose one could arguably make a robe of this cloth. It's not beyond likelihood.
But in the time frame 'Turkish robe' seems to be ... y'know ... a caftan. Or a long robe of about any kind. Generally fancy.

I suppose I could squeak thought if I pretend my 'Turkish robe' is just a robe made of velvet or something and not necessarily made of toweling ...

OK. OK. My bad. When I say 'Turkish robe' I should know what I mean.

p 242: "land mines" 1890 in OED; seems to indicate a sophistication of mechanized warfare not available in early 19th century. Did you find it in your research?

Criminy. Yes.
I don't know what I was thinking ...

p. 249: "bedspread" per OED, orig US, 1845; anything else would work, sheet, coverlet, blanket, quilt, etc.

It may be in Ralph Waldo Emerson, 'Journals' in 1833.
But it does not seem to be an early 1800 word.

Who knew?
This one is like 'sweater'. Totally blindsides me.

p. 263: "linden tree" more commonly called "lime tree" in Britain. (I learned this the hard way, trying to find a tree that bloomed in late summer.)

I feel ok about this one. There's lots of refs to 'Linden tree' in the early decades of the 1800s so it was a common alternate name.

No way I'm going to use 'lime tree'. I'd put in poplars or something. Or modern sculpture. Or electrical pylons.

p. 275: "suicide" as a verb, 1841, sounds very contemporary and edgy.

The line is ...
Maggie scowled. "You will be satisfied, I suppose, if she suicides herself to escape you."

So it's meant to be, not so much modern, as French. From the verb se suicider. Thus the reflexive 'suicides herself'.

I thought of it because Dorothy Sayers used it.


  1. Anonymous10:03 PM

    When I read "suicides" I certainly read it as French...course, I used to speak French a very long time ago.

  2. I hadn't thought about whether it works in English at all, Whether it would be era appropriate.

    I don't think put it in an Englishman's mouth ...

  3. This is absolutely fascinating. I have a love/hate relationship with anachronisms, so it's great to see the editing process involved in, um, not having them.
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Hi Anita --

    And no matter how hard one tries, there's always dozens of mistakes that slip through.