How can I talk like a 17th century tavern wench plague victim?
October 26, 2009 9:57 AM   Subscribe

I need help with slang for a 17th century tavern wench plague victim!

For Halloween, I’ve decided to go as a tavern wench during the Great Plague and have been looking around for saucy slang/phrases that a lower class woman would say during that time. I haven’t been very successful so I thought I’d come here for some ideas. Any audio sources (period movies, shows, etc) to help me develop my accent would be a great help too.

I’ve checked out the accent tag and found this which was helpful though doesn’t cover the phrase bit. Also, I’ll be watching the movie Restoration and the History Channel's documentary,The Plague.

posted by KathyK to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You could also throw in some Life of Brian since they had the plague in there. "I'm not dead yet. Yes you are". :)
posted by stormpooper at 10:04 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Watching some adaptations of Moll Flanders might help (disclaimer: I'm at work, so I can't vouch for the quality of any of these).
posted by oinopaponton at 10:06 AM on October 26, 2009

If anybody asks, tell them you're a poxy doxy.
posted by headspace at 10:19 AM on October 26, 2009

You can search Cassell's Dictionary of Slang via Google Books . Try 17C with appropriate words and it will spit out a bunch of entries.

17C + tavern got me :

Hedge Tavern: A low tavern often the home of criminals etc
Hunt the Tavern Fox: Get Drunk
Pitcher Bawd: A worn out prostitute who runs errands in a tavern, bringing drinks etc
Smuggle the coal: To pretend you have no money when it time to pay the bill in a tavern
Bittern by the Tavern Bitch: Drunk

among plenty of others.
posted by tallus at 10:50 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

One of the few verbatim records you get of ordinary people's speech in early modern England was the canon court records where people might be up before the beak for blaspheming or other moral turpitude; hence the term bawdy courts, bit more here but still not much reported speech; tried to find some of the referenced works in those links at Google books but no previews available; but might be an avenue for further seaching.
posted by Abiezer at 10:55 AM on October 26, 2009

See if you can work the word "ginch" into your conversations. In its various senses it appears to mean worn out underpants, vagina, or whore of ill repute (not like those nice ones).

"Trollop" and "slattern" should be winners. You'll have to play a self-loathing tavern wench, I guess, given these options.
posted by Askr at 11:06 AM on October 26, 2009

Read the Wife of Bath's tale from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Toss about some Middle English swearing! Like, "Kiss me nether eye" boy, that should get them going....
posted by effluvia at 11:45 AM on October 26, 2009

Response by poster: Awesome, thanks everyone. Here are some inspirational quotes from Moll Flanders:

Got a snake for a tongue, haven’tcha?
Mind you don’t get your gullet slit.
Mind yourself!
Cunning little whippet, ain’t she?
Them spots are as good as the hangman.
I was taken ill with great disfavors of the stomach.
Scullery hellcat whose tongue is bigger than her britches.
Come in ‘fore the cold stops my blood.
They’ll kill you all to make me their Queen.
You lazy trollop.
Taken my fingers to the bone, I have.
Life’s terrible short for some.
An ear for your troubles.
He could turn the lead in his pistols to gold.
Here, find yourself (handing a drink)
Do you think I’m loosing my bloom?
I’m still here, testing the winds.
Eyes…like a rooster seen the axe.

I'll post more for future wenches.

Thanks again!
posted by KathyK at 5:55 AM on October 27, 2009

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