Time, “Wednesday Words: Downton Dialect, Linsanity and More”

February 15, 2012

Katy Steinmetz, “Wednesday Words: Downton Dialect, Linsanity and More” (Time, Feb. 15, 2012)

Speaking of Downton Abbey, the PBS program centered on a noble English family in the early 20th century, language guru Ben Zimmer compiled some of the anachronisms the show’s writers have used. In mid-1918, Thomas, the evil, secretly gay footman, says, “I get fed up seeing how our lot always get shafted.” Zimmer points out that using to get shafted to describe being treated unfairly or harshly wasn’t in fashion for at least another 30 years.

Other anachronisms he found include “I’m just sayin.” and “Step on it.” But suffering through some disingenuous dialogue is a small price to pay for such a compelling show. (I mean, an evil, secretly gay footman is but one piece of ammunition in the show’s dramatic arsenal.)

Read the rest here. (Related Word Routes column, Boston Globe column)

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