Lingusitically historically accurate!
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If you are writing historical fiction set in England or any other part of the UK as it is now known, please mind your language!

I have recently read three such novels, two by American authors, one translated by an American. One of them included the phrase 'blown away' - as in, 'She was blown away by the sight' - which was never used in Victorian England (or anywhere else at the time). Another used 'grotty' - which is an invention of the 1960s and so had no place in the 1820s setting.

The English do not use 'gotten', nor 'through' as in 'one through ten'. There are also words that are slang, and always were slang, which a lady would not have uttered.

You may be writing for an American audience; but even so, if your novel is set in England it should be as English as it's possible to get. Why not get an English person to read through it before you publish?

Historical accuracy covers more than just the setting and the costumes; it's in the language too. No-one expects you to write in the language of Shakespeare or Chaucer, but you should avoid anachronism and Americanisation wherever possible.

  • This is such an important point. Accuracy in data has to include language! I find this mistake often in Movies and TV shows where characters speak Spanish (but the piece is in English or another language) as it varies tremendously from one country to another in accent and mode of expression.

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  • Lorraine, this sort of thing, when applied to depictions of American military characters, is one of my pet peeves, especially those written/produced here in the U.S.  During tv programs, I've been irritated to the point of stopping the program (now that we can do something like that with our magical cable boxes) and blogging the irritation -- tweeting may get more eyes, but it doesn't give the same visceral pleasure as a good long rant.   ;)