Regencyisms

Ah the things a Regency romance novelist’s children say!  

I was making a snack for them when it happened the first time.  Saltines with tuna salad and a sliver of cheese, which I’d popped into the microwave for a few seconds in order to render the cheese all melty and gooey–except that I’d not put them in for 20 seconds but for 200!  They were past gooey and closer to molten.

“Oh la!” my eldest child cried upon discovering my mistake.  She’d said it without thinking about it.  When I explained that oh la isn’t a contemporary interjection these days, we had a lovely chuckle over it, and the term “Regencyism” was born.

Later, I was baking.  “Oh la, mama!” she cried. “I believe you have burnt the cookies!”  She was wearing an impish grin, completely aware this time that “Oh la!” wasn’t something any modern lady would say, much less a seven-year-old.  She’d thrown down a gauntlet, and her little sister, just four, gleefully picked it up.  “Oh LA!” they both exclaimed through their giggles every few minutes for the rest of the day.

But other “Regencyisms,” as we’ve continued to call them, have crept into our family lexicon unnoticed–not surprising really, as I’ve been writing Regency romances since before my children were born, and they can quote much of the dialogue from both Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.  These Regencyisms have become so normal a part of our lives that we usually don’t notice using them.  Every once in a while one will occur to me, and I’ll say something like, “You know, most people say, ‘engaged,’ not ‘betrothed.'” Or some such.  To which the reply is always a shocked, “Really!? That’s a Regencyism?”

Every one of the Regency-era words and phrases in the graphic above are words my children and I have used un-ironically over the years–a list that was surprisingly difficult to recall.  A few moments ago, I asked my child Julie Rain, “Can you think of any other Regencyisms we’ve adopted in our everyday speech?” 

She thought for a moment before answering, “I have not a clue,” then laughed and pointed out that “I have not a ____” is itself a Regency-esque construction.  

My children have had a lot of fun with Regency-speak over the years.  A couple of weeks ago, Julie Rain shared with me the following delight.  It’s a parodic translation (displayed in red, below) of a portion of a modern-day song, Hotline Bling, by Drake (displayed in black, below). The original has been simplified a little for clarity’s sake:

Hotline Bling

 … or …

The Post’s Arrival

You used to call me on my cell phone
Late night when you need my love.

You used to write me, pen and parchment
in the eve, when you mourn my affections.

And I know when that hotline bling,
That can only mean one thing

Post is what the servant brings.
It could only be one thing.

Ever since I left the city,
You got a reputation for yourself now
Everybody knows and I feel left out

After I departed London, you
Garnered quite the reputation I hear.
I find myself alone in hearing last, dear.

Girl you got me down, you got me stressed out.

I find myself dismayed, waiting just to hear.

‘Cause ever since I left the city,
you started wearing less and goin’ out more.

After I departed London
you started wearing frocks that do reveal more.

Glasses of champagne out on the dance floor.

Rumors of syllabub, that sound like lore.

Hangin’ with some girls I’ve never seen before.

Your company, companions unacquainted with myself.

Fun, eh? 🙂

Julie wants to know what song would you like her to “translate” next!  Click on “Leave a comment,” below. 

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