As novelists we strive to add a touch of realism to our purple prose, especially when we're writing about centuries past and want to create the right atmosphere. But how far is it necessary to go when asking our readers to step back in time? We don't want to lose them, or bog them down in unnecessarily long descriptions. Nor do we want to resort to the stilted verbage of yester-year in order to prove that we know our stuff. There has to be a happy medium, right?
Aficionados of Georgette Heyer will be familiar with her use of Regency cant. Sometimes she sprinkles it through her books with a light hand. At others its laid on so thick that her meaning almost gets lost. You know the sort of thing. Being short of blunt, having pockets to let, being in dun territory – all of those expressions tell us that some unfortunate soul is hard up. So why not just say so? Well, because the odd bit of easily understood cant makes for authenticity, I suppose. Take another example. If a woman's accused of being a doxy, a lightskirt, a Cyprian or a member of the Mulsin company we'd have a pretty low opinion of her morals. (Or not as the case may be).
All of the above are in fairly common use in Regency novels and unlikely to confuse anyone. But I thought I'd have a bit of fun and introduce some cant that's not quite so well known.
How about - A bumblebroth,
or a Long Meg.
Any idea what those phrases signify? And let's not forget my personal favourite:
Obviously, I don't mean the board game. Let me have your best guess about that one too. Alternatively you can wait for my next Regency Scandalous Propositions to be published by Carina Press in September and find out that way.