Author Topic: Anachronisms.  (Read 2617 times)

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Thipu1

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Anachronisms.
« on: March 04, 2012, 03:05:37 PM »
These can be infuriating or they can be fun.  Let's go for the fun side.

There is often a phenomenon in novels of the ancient world or Medieval fantasies that I call the 'Potato Trap'.  Here are some examples;

A visitor to early Constantinople is amazed to see the array of hot peppers in the marketplace.  Yes, the ancient world knew black pepper but hot peppers are native to the Western hemisphere.  They didn't reach Europe or Asia until the early 16th century at the earliest.

Residents of Anglo-Saxon Britain eat meals including tomatoes, potatoes and ears of corn.  No.  All these are New World crops that could not have been known at that time and place.

In a novel about the Pilgrims in early New England, a visitor was offered a glass of iced tea and a plate of 'hickory toast'. That was not going to happen.

I've heard about a problem with a meal at a Medieval feast in which it was said that salt as a seasoning wasn't 'period'.  Excuse me, has no one heard of Halstatt? 

What are fun anachronisms you've seen or read?

Elfmama

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Re: Anachronisms.
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2012, 12:41:34 AM »
Henry VIII and Katharine of Aragon sitting down to a nice pot of tea.

And my favorite, which is not so much an anachronism as the author's own weird pet theory: that the companion of a princess was called a "countess" because it was her job to count how many times the princess was alone with any particular man; if the tally reached a certain number, the princess then had to marry the man in question!  What, diplomatic marriages?  Betrothals (and sometimes even weddings) between two children still in the cradle?  Piffle, I say! Nope, if she's alone for 5 times with my low-born rascal of a hero, she has to marry him.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

ETA: sometimes even non-fiction reference books get things wrong.  I'm thinking about a book on medieval cookery that said there are no extant period recipes for bread, and that no one knows what skirrets are/were.  Mistress Jaelle of Armida, an SCA cooking Laurel, dispelled both of those, and showed me the definitive proof.  (Skirrets are a root vegetable, BTW.)  Sometimes "no one knows" means "I, the author, don't know, and I can't be bothered to dig through obscure reference books to find out."
« Last Edit: March 05, 2012, 12:48:10 AM by Elfmama »
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greencat

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Re: Anachronisms.
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2012, 01:21:29 AM »
The Tudors could have been having some form of herbal "tea" - people have been making tea from anything that vaguely tastes good for millenia!

Slartibartfast

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Re: Anachronisms.
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2012, 01:38:37 AM »
I was doing some research on potentially anachronistic phrases because I'm writing a book (steampunk) set in 1870 and I'm trying to stay relatively true to the time period.  One phrase that surprised me was "old hat" - it was still used by the Victorians, but had a much cruder connotation.  "Old hat" meaning "out of date" was only the 1910's onward - prior to that, "old hat" was slang for a promiscuous lady's privates because they were "often felt."  (As in the felt hats common at the time, and, well, you can guess the rest.)

Giraffe, Esq

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Re: Anachronisms.
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2012, 11:29:47 AM »
Not a phrase, per se, but I was reading a fanfic where the characters sent telegrams...in the form of letters.  Full out sentences, full paragraphs long.

I was thinking, nope, that's not how telegrams work.

Thipu1

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Re: Anachronisms.
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2012, 01:02:07 PM »
You are correct, Giraffe Esq STOP

That is not how telegraphs worked STOP

For a mystery I had to reproduce a telegram from the 1930s STOP




purplemuse

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Re: Anachronisms.
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2012, 02:55:23 PM »
Henry VIII and Katharine of Aragon sitting down to a nice pot of tea.

And my favorite, which is not so much an anachronism as the author's own weird pet theory: that the companion of a princess was called a "countess" because it was her job to count how many times the princess was alone with any particular man; if the tally reached a certain number, the princess then had to marry the man in question!  What, diplomatic marriages?  Betrothals (and sometimes even weddings) between two children still in the cradle?  Piffle, I say! Nope, if she's alone for 5 times with my low-born rascal of a hero, she has to marry him.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

This reminds me of some others I've heard of from people who seem to be less concerned with actual history and more concerned with showing how s3xist/silly/stuffy they were "back then" with regard to women's affairs.

One I remember is someone insisting that Mrs. comes from the possessive of Mr. (so mister's (or, I guess, "Mr's")) to indicate that she belonged to her husband. Couldn't come from "mistress," or anything...

a clever screenname

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Re: Anachronisms.
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2012, 05:31:05 PM »
For sale for your Christmas Nativity;  Fontanini's  'Bethlehem Birds', which conveniently includes a turkey for those who like their New World critters mixed into their biblical decor. 

http://www.amazon.com/Fontanini-Bethlehem-Birds-Set-5/dp/B000WY6GUC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330985807&sr=8-1
« Last Edit: March 06, 2012, 11:02:05 AM by a clever screenname »

Thipu1

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Re: Anachronisms.
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2012, 11:16:09 AM »
Things that seem like anachronisms may not be so.

When I was in College during the late 1960s, I discovered George Ade's 'Fables in Slang'. The book was written in the late 1890s.  I was amazed to find that the slang of that time was very close to the slang used in my time.

Police officers were called 'pigs'.
Something wonderful to behold was said to be 'Outta Sight'.
A young man smooching with his girlfriend was 'Makin' time with his Old Lady'.

You never can tell.

Twik

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Re: Anachronisms.
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2012, 03:37:11 PM »
Henry VIII and Katharine of Aragon sitting down to a nice pot of tea.

And my favorite, which is not so much an anachronism as the author's own weird pet theory: that the companion of a princess was called a "countess" because it was her job to count how many times the princess was alone with any particular man; if the tally reached a certain number, the princess then had to marry the man in question!  What, diplomatic marriages?  Betrothals (and sometimes even weddings) between two children still in the cradle?  Piffle, I say! Nope, if she's alone for 5 times with my low-born rascal of a hero, she has to marry him.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

I have to ask - what did she think was a Count's job?
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Clair Seulement

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Re: Anachronisms.
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2012, 03:44:41 PM »
You are correct, Giraffe Esq STOP

That is not how telegraphs worked STOP

For a mystery I had to reproduce a telegram from the 1930s STOP

Why, in movies, do people always read aloud the word "STOP"? That never made sense to me. Just...stop. And go on to the next sentence!

ETA: when they are reading a received telegram to others, I mean, not when they are dictating one.

Giraffe, Esq

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Re: Anachronisms.
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2012, 05:14:08 PM »
You are correct, Giraffe Esq STOP

That is not how telegraphs worked STOP

For a mystery I had to reproduce a telegram from the 1930s STOP

Why, in movies, do people always read aloud the word "STOP"? That never made sense to me. Just...stop. And go on to the next sentence!

ETA: when they are reading a received telegram to others, I mean, not when they are dictating one.

This is just me thinking "out loud", but I'd say it's similar to interpreters/translators -- the job is to relay what is actually SAID, not play mediator and "pretty it up". 

With a telegram, sentences were already awkward because they'd skip words, etc.  So the STOP to indicate a break in concept/thought/sentence was important, because otherwise it would be easier to confuse the message by thinking something belonged with another sentence, even when it didn't.  (And isn't that sentence as clear as mud?)

To be as clear as possible, and minimize concerns of misinterpretation, it seems like it would make sense to read the STOP -- that way any confusion could not be blamed on the messenger.

Just my 2 cents.

baglady

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Re: Anachronisms.
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2012, 08:22:58 PM »
There was some movie or sitcom scene about this, where the initial reading of the telegram was "Your uncle died and left you a million STOP Thanks for your support." It turned out to be "Your uncle died and left you STOP A million thanks for your support."
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Clair Seulement

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Re: Anachronisms.
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2012, 02:13:13 PM »
You are correct, Giraffe Esq STOP

That is not how telegraphs worked STOP

For a mystery I had to reproduce a telegram from the 1930s STOP

Why, in movies, do people always read aloud the word "STOP"? That never made sense to me. Just...stop. And go on to the next sentence!

ETA: when they are reading a received telegram to others, I mean, not when they are dictating one.

This is just me thinking "out loud", but I'd say it's similar to interpreters/translators -- the job is to relay what is actually SAID, not play mediator and "pretty it up". 

With a telegram, sentences were already awkward because they'd skip words, etc.  So the STOP to indicate a break in concept/thought/sentence was important, because otherwise it would be easier to confuse the message by thinking something belonged with another sentence, even when it didn't.  (And isn't that sentence as clear as mud?)

To be as clear as possible, and minimize concerns of misinterpretation, it seems like it would make sense to read the STOP -- that way any confusion could not be blamed on the messenger.

Just my 2 cents.

This makes sense! I can stop cringing during the final scene of "It's a Wonderful Life" :D

Sirius

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Re: Anachronisms.
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2012, 08:50:33 PM »
You are correct, Giraffe Esq STOP

That is not how telegraphs worked STOP

For a mystery I had to reproduce a telegram from the 1930s STOP

And before we get too carried away with telegrams STOP

In the Bertie/Jeeves stories Bertie sends and receives a lot of telegrams.  In fact, didn't they condense even more than we did to save money?