Pondering Slang in Historical Novels

Have a listen while you read!


As a Texan, I have no problem understanding southern dialect and the slang words and phrases that go with it. But what if you are writing in a different time period? What changes?

In 1928 rural Texas, eleven year old Emma June understands words like “fixin’ to” and “fair to middling”. And she knows what it means to be Cooter Browned. But does she know the terms blotto or hoary-eyed, spifficated?

So when and how does the slang of the 20’s hit her isolated town? From newspapers? The radio? City transplants?

That’s what hit me while writing my current novel.

Let’s say her father saunters into the washroom. Is he bleeding his lizard (Texas) or ironing his shoelaces (Jazz term)?

If a woman dresses to the nines, is she ritzy or wearing her best bib and tucker? (Women’s fashion stays relatively consistent)


So thirteen year old Frank moves from New Orleans to Holly Gap, Texas. He made it possible to use both- Texas and Jazz Age Slang.

Now, everything’s Jake and I’m sitting in tall cotton!

The Moonshine Thicket, coming soon.

Jazz Age slang :  home.earthlink.net/~dlarkins/slang-pg.htm

More Texan-isms  https://shar.es/1xYMnH via @texasmonthly

Here’s a great video of how dialect changes by area:  https://youtu.be/mNqY6ftqGq0

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