I’m working on a paranormal novella right now, and one of the heroes was born in the early 1900’s. The pertinent flashbacks occur during the Great Depression, when the one guy is in his early thirties.
Anyway, I thought I try to find some slang to add some colour to the flashbacks. Apparently I’m failing at Google 101. I can find tons of slang related to riding the rails and the politics of the time, but my hero wasn’t riding the rails. What I REALLY want to know… did men of that era refer to the bits & bobs & verbs associated with sex in the same delightfully coarse way I do in my writing? I’ve been able to ferret out that gay may have been used – ambiguously & rarely – to refer to homosexual men, but I’ve found other terms that were more common. So that’s a start, I suppose. Over the years, I’ve managed to build up a wee lexicon of various sexually related euphemisms for several eras, such as Victorian, Regency, Edwardian, and Medieval. But early 20th century? Not a clue.
So, I clambered back into some naughty books I own were written in the Victorian era. There are references to the same terminology I use, although they’re interspersed with many other, more delicate terms (ones that may carry the stigma of purple prose today). Maybe I’ll borrow a few of those, but if our current four letter words were good enough for the Victorians, they’ll do for my Depression era hero. Although, as I write this post, I’m thinking I might be able to use “riding the rails” in a much naughtier way than originally intended.
Perhaps I should try to bring back priapus. I would have thought with the advent of ED drugs and their potentially unfortunate side effects, priapus and other related terms might have become more common. Good thing I didn’t place any bets on it!
If you were hoping for some Canadianisms, I haven’t got any. As far as I know, Canucks call sex & the dangly bits the same things they’re called in the States. Although my husband has occasionally written ‘junk’ as ‘junque’ for the amusement factor. (For those of you who might not know, certain types of checks are spelled cheques back home.)
My conclusion? The hero born in the early 1900’s will use slightly less coarse terminology. Seems as though it will fit, even if it’s not nearly as much fun. 🙁 Whether it would have been true or not, I don’t know. I hadn’t intended to spend that much time on research – I even set the thing in Toronto so I could reduce the amount of research I’d need to do. Although, I’ve come across some interesting tangents, unrelated to vocabulary. We’ll see if they make it into the novella.