Archaic Terminology

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ericmocata
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Archaic Terminology

Post by ericmocata » Fri 12 Jul, 2013 07:21:32

Does anybody besides me sometimes need to look words up while reading some of Wheatley's stuff? I suppose in my case it could also be that some of these terms are English slang and thus not familiar to an American, but I think some of these things are just no longer said.

For instance, I am currently about halfway through Three Inquisitive People and earlier today, I had to look up "plus-fours" which turned out to be a type of pants. Is this still a common term in the UK?

I also noticed that the difference in the time period in which the material was written and the present has made the Crime Dossiers a bit more difficult to solve. So, be honest, how many who have read them actually solved them? I have only read the first two so far, but I do have all four. I had no clue on Murder Off Miami, but I pretty much had Robert Prentice, though the ending did still throw me a bit. The main thing I didn't catch in Murder Off Miami dealt with a denture product showing up in a picture. I didn't pick up on that one, since I had no clue as to what the stuff was. I don't know if it is a brand that is unfamiliar to me because I am American or because this is not the 1930s.

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Post by Steve Whatley » Sun 14 Jul, 2013 08:05:25

Hi Eric, we never hear of 'plus-fours' these days. I believe they were traditionally worn when playing golf. I must admit that a major attraction of nineteen-twenties and -thirties fiction for me is the period settings and language. Let us know which other period gems you come across.[font=Times New Roman] [/font]

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Field Trip No. 3

Post by Steve Whatley » Sun 14 Jul, 2013 08:35:15

Well, Dennis Wheatley Field Trip No. 3 seems to be well and truly underway! It is just Jean and me here, but we're having a great time, although of course we wish that other friends from our DW group were here with us. The Romantik Jugendstil Hotel Bellevue (formerly Hotel Clauss Feist - designed by Professor Bruno Mohring, who was also responsible for the Julius Kayser Winery where DW worked) is Art Nouveau down to the finest detail. The old railway station where DW arrived in Traben is now the Tourist Information Centre. We have identified the home of Herr Julius Kayser (now a part of the Hotel), and that of his cousin Fritz Kayser, where DW lived during his stay here. We are also fairly certain that the home of Julius Kayser's mother-in-law Frau Haussmann, who made DW so welcome upon his arrival, is right nextdoor to the hotel. There are several Art Nouveau buildings in town, including others designed by Bruno Mohring. We are planning to visit the Winery later, along with the tennis club and one or two other DW-related sites. A full report with illustrations will follow after our return. Charles, are you able to post this under a new topic heading please? I seem to be technologically challenged as usual![font=Times New Roman] [/font]

shanedwyer
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Post by shanedwyer » Mon 15 Jul, 2013 11:49:29

What was the name of the denture product Eric?

ericmocata
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Post by ericmocata » Mon 15 Jul, 2013 18:45:21

I had to go back through Murder Off Miami, since I read it some years ago. The denture stuff actually was listed as being with Bolitho Blaine's belongings, not in a picture. I think I got it mixed up with other details that were clues in the book, so things aren't quite as I remember, no surprise there as memory in general is not the most reliable thing in this world. Regardless, the denture stuff is called Gum Tragacanth powder and I would assume that is not a brand name. Still, I had never heard of the stuff and I have no idea if that is something still used to this day.

Another term I had to look up from reading Wheatley books was mackintosh. I kept seeing that one in multiple books (I think mainly Sallust books). However, this one I had pretty much figured out what it was just by context clues, but looking it up did make it more specific for me.

Just for fun, I did see an unusual brand of cigarettes while looking through Murder Off Miami- Balkan Sobranie. Anybody know if that brand is still around?

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Post by shanedwyer » Wed 17 Jul, 2013 12:14:07

It looks like that particular brand of cigarettes has been discontinued. A quick glance at Sobranie's website shows they're still turning out several varities of cancer stick. But no mention of a Balkan Sobranie.

However there's plenty of Balkan Sobranie memorabilia on the go on ebay- some very pretty cigarette tins in the £10-20 range.

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Post by ericmocata » Sat 21 Sep, 2013 01:20:44

Okay, this one may or may not be archaic, but I don't think i have ever heard it used (at least not this way) except in Wheatley novels. I have noticed that many characters in Wheatley novels will start a sentence that is usually a response to some surprise (often not a good one, of course) with "Hi!" That seems weird to me. I guess it is similar to saying "Hey! What are you going to do with that gigantic knife?" But, "Hi! What are going to do with that gigantic knife?" just doesn't seem to have the same kind of sound to me. Seems too cheerful, almost like the speaker is hoping for some fun with that gigantic knife. "Going to slice up some of those Nazi wankers, are we?" Finally, my stupid keyboard apparently gave up trying to auto-correct me on that word. Next thing you know it'll start thinking I am misspelling "favorite" because I didn't put the "u" in it.

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Post by Cibator » Mon 23 Sep, 2013 12:05:07

EricMocata: I think you're right to regard "Hi!" as an archaism, at least when used in the way you describe. The last time I can remember seeing it in such a context was in (of all things) one of my little brother's comics in the early 70s, in a cartoon strip where a ghost appeared suddenly and shouted it in protest at some noisy goings-on in his previously quiet abode.

Its disuse in this way would have coincided with its rise as an informal greeting, which I recall as occurring at much about the same time.

Nowadays, as you say, it's more likely to be "Hey!" - or among the more ruffianly element, "Oi!!"

Gum tragacanth certainly isn't a brand name. The term refers to a naturally occurring gum that's secreted by various plants, and which has a number of uses. But it isn't common in Western countries because (a) the plants can't be economically cultivated outside their natural habitat, (b) said habitat is in Middle Eastern countries that tend not to have stable trading relations with the West (the best-quality tragacanth apparently comes from Iran), and (c) other gums more readily available are just as good for purpose.
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