Years ago, when I first started reading historical romances, I felt like I was getting a crash course in an exotic dialect…there were so many unfamiliar terms and phrases that at times, reading the story came second to puzzling out the meaning behind individual words. Most authors provide enough context that I got the jist of it, but I was determined to do better. I wanted to be able to smoothly read a Regency, breezing right through period jargon, and KNOW the meaning of what I read, not merely guess.
Thus began a years long pursuit of compiling various Regency terms, idioms, slang, and cant–a massive undertaking made even more time consuming by the fact that I wanted my dictionary to be as accurate as possible both in definition and period–so I made the decision to stick with period resources (The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, Pierce Egan’s Boxiana, and the works of Georgette Heyer).
As time passed, I made the transition from Regency Reader to Writer, and discovered a new purpose for my dictionary–instead of puzzling out the meaning of a word, it also became my thesaurus. How many words could you use to denote someone as a courtesan? What were some of the more common oaths? If your characters were dealing with London’s criminal class, what was the dialect? What began as side project to enhance my reading became an invaluable resource to my writing.
In the wake of releasing my debut novel After Midnight, I joined a variety of Social Media, including Twitter. As I neared the 200 follower mark, I decided to do something special for my fans. A gift. Despite working on 2 other stories, I began building new pages for my website, painstakingly formatting then uploading my research to the web, and released the addition earlier this morning. “Regency Cant & Expressions” is now live online; a free resource for all lovers of the Regency Period, and I do hope you’ll enjoy :)