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Thread: Dated Language

  1. #1
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    English tends to evolve and not evolve in interesting ways... Are you trying to make your North Korean sound like an American in the fifties, or just dated?

    If you really want to emphasize how old the speech is, I would suggest using thee and thou in lieu of you, or in addition to you.

    Slang is something that would be easier and can change very quickly... or not. Cool has been cool since the 50s, but hot has only recently been considered cool. If you want to date your slang in a different sense, you could use something like tight, which I think is out already.

    You could also try emphasizing pronounciation differences. Apparently in Shakespeare's day, the letter h wasn't aspirated at the beginning of words, so hair, heir, and air were all homonyms.

    Edit: Oops. Should be post #3.
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    Dated Language

    I'm working on a story that deals with the split between North and South Korea, and something I have been focusing on lately is the language differences between the two nations. One thing I have learned is that when South Koreans hear people from the North is that they tend to speak in a way that is considered rather dated, since the country split in the fifties and the North has more or less completely isolated themselves from South Korea and the rest of the world.

    So North Korea was never exposed to the changes in language in South Korea, leaving them sort of stuck in the fifties.

    So what I need are some rather dated English words, or even words that are considered especially modern-sounding (slang and the like).

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    So like English from the 50's?

    icebox
    veranda
    vestibule (the foyer)
    illuminations (good ideas)
    And apparently epistle was used for letter, but I think that that is REALLY old English

    A lot of 50s language is still used today, so...
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  4. #4
    Inverarity
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    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    So North Korea was never exposed to the changes in language in South Korea, leaving them sort of stuck in the fifties.
    That's not really accurate. Their dialects have diverged, but North Korean dialect hasn't remained in stasis -- just like South Korean dialect, words and slang have evolved. There is no country and no language in the world where people speak just like they did half a century ago. There has been less evolution in the North Korean dialect because they are so isolated from the outside world and get less exposure to new ideas and technologies, so some of their speech probably does sound "old fashioned" to South Koreans, but if you want to convey the difference between North and South Korean dialects in English translation, writing North Koreans like 1950s Americans isn't going to sound authentic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maple_and_PheonixFeather
    So like English from the 50's?

    icebox
    veranda
    vestibule (the foyer)
    illuminations (good ideas)
    And apparently epistle was used for letter, but I think that that is REALLY old English
    Er, "icebox" and "veranda" are stilll in common use. "Vestibule" was a bit dated even in the 50s, and "illuminations" is very archaic.

  5. #5
    Wizengamot Hufflepuff
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olive Oil Med
    So what I need are some rather dated English words,
    When you say English, do you mean British English, American English, or Australian English?

    Quote Originally Posted by Inverarity
    Er, "icebox" and "veranda" are stilll in common use. "Vestibule" was a bit dated even in the 50s, and "illuminations" is very archaic.
    Icebox is certainly still used in UK. Veranda - not so much, probably because our climate doesn't support having one. Veranda always makes me think of those movies set in the Deep South.

    Illuminations is only used in UK when you're talking about Christmas lights. It's been that way for decades, although possibly an old teacher in 1950's would use it with his pupils.

    I'm wondering why N Korean language would be stuck in 50's American slang/language. Wouldn't the opposite be true and their language would have become far more formal as all Western influences are frowned upon? Perhaps if you want to emphasize language difference you should have the N Koreans speaking in a more formal way and not using contractions - or any slang.

    It might not be factually accurate, but it would emphasize the difference.

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    I agree that using 1950's English slang wouldn't be appropriate for North Korean speech. Instead of slang, you might want to aim for more formal language that avoids various shortcuts we take for granted, like "won't" for "will not." You might want to say "automobile" instead of "car" if you really want to.

    But if you want to use dialogue to illustrate setting, I think you can do this more effectively by using communist words and phrases. People would refer to each other as "comrade" instead of "mr" or "mrs." The word "revolution" and "revolutionary" pop up pretty often. Refer to the South and the USA as reactionary imperialists and all of that good stuff.

    Though this wouldn't reflect the language of the streets, I'd recommend reading the Constitution of the DPRK to get an idea of what government language sounds like.

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  7. #7
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    Maybe I need to be a little more specific. I'm by no means going to make her sound like an American girl in the ninteen fifties. I suppose more what I was looking for were more modern terms used today that never would have been around in the fifties.

    The North Korean language has taken on changes as well, but it is mostly in Russian influence from the Soviets and a lot of language prasing the party and condeming the Americans. Whenever you hear the kids speak they don't even sound like little kids in the subtitles. They sound like people in their sixties, or like kids growing up in the fifties without the fortune of having rock and roll to save their souls.

    That's the sort I think I'm looking for. Dated sort of language without a lot of newer modern influence.

    Later, I'll include clips from documentaries and movies to show you what I mean.

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inverarity
    Er, "icebox" and "veranda" are stilll in common use. "Vestibule" was a bit dated even in the 50s, and "illuminations" is very archaic.
    I just googled it, and my history class referred to this sort of language, and the literature of the time. Maybe it's a culture thing. (I've never heard anyone say icebox or veranda, so I felt justified.) And lots of people I know still say "illuminations", but agian, culture maybe (Or just the fact that I'm IB and we use weird vocabulary like that )

    So more modern words that they wouldn't use? That's harder. Common slang where I am:
    Mint
    lawl
    hot
    Man, there's a lot more, nut I can't thinkk of any right now.

    Things like "IM speak" or things that were simply not words because they didn't exist (ICT, etc.)
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  9. #9
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    So what could also be some more modern terms that wouldn't be used? Linguistically, what are some terms that have been invented since the 1950's?

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    So what could also be some more modern terms that wouldn't be used? Linguistically, what are some terms that have been invented since the 1950's?
    I did a Google search (Google would be a recently invented word, by the way) of "slang invented since 1950". One good resource would be to look at the words added to various dictionaries. A sampling:

    bikini wax, brain freeze, blog, flip flop, chick flick, civil union, B2B, bazillion, bleeding edge, hottie, hotlink, identity theft, dot-commer, microwbrowser, push poll, cross-post, bleeding edge, steganography, tide pool, hospitalist, metadata, otology, and cybrarian, bloviate, designer baby, cyber war, ecological footprint, first responder, health tourism, microdermabrasion, jarhead, noogie, plasma screen, sky marshal, potsticker, pole dancing, snow blade, speed dating, stealth tax, threequel, stevia, trackie, weekend warrior, and wiggle room.

    I have to say that I actually still use the word "galoshes", "veranda" and "ice box".

    Another good resource would be to watch some older films, like Casablanca or All About Eve and pay attention to the language they are using.

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