Friday, November 22, 2013

Use of Contemporary Slang in Historical Novels

Recently I've read several historical fiction novels, some set during WWII, others in more distant times. One unfortunate similarity shared by too many of these books is the use of contemporary slang in historical text and dialog. Its use is jarringly out of place and shatters the mood of time, events and place the author is attempting to create.

Such phrases as "connect the dots" - "the ball's in his court" - "wake up call" - "moved the goal post" are recent additions to our collection of casual expressions. In addition to showing up in books, they are often and inappropriately used by TV news anchors and interviewees when discussing grave national and international matters. War and talk of war are not games or sports.

I'm pretty sure George Washington never said, "Hey, Dudes, let's haul ass across the Delaware River."   

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