March 2nd, 2008

Peasant class dialect (Medieval British)

This is more an opinion/subjective question than an objective question, but I am desperate for ideas on how to tackle this issue!

As I wrap up the first draft of my novel, I found I now need to create a lower-class speech pattern for a character in contrast with those characters of noble blood. I assume that even if my peasant was educated at a monastery, some rural aspects of his speech would stick. The language in the book’s setting would technically be a 10th century Anglo-Saxon English, so I have some leeway – no one still speaks it as a living language! I need not make it conform to any current speech pattern, but it will need to be (1) simple, (2) convincing, and (3) consistent.

I am American, and I’m not likely to master a rural British dialect, past or present any time soon. I DO NOT want to give my peasant a pseudo-cockney (that would be a disaster). I read Old English, but there is surprisingly little extant ‘conversational’ snippets of the peasant classes to guide me. I have looked at Middle English cycle plays, such as the Second Shepherds’ Play and I have looked at Tolkien, who wrote Sam in a way that is obviously peasant stock, BUT does not stand out like a sore thumb. Shakespeare is another source. I have used all of these, but with some trepidation. Done wrong, and the whole thing falls apart.

I was considering other simple shorthand ways of marking my character’s speech as peasant class without making it distracting. Has anyone on this board dealt successfully with this issue, or seen it done well? What realistic options have you seen out there? Do you know of any books set in pre-modern English past that managed the class dialects in a subtle but convincing way? Would it work if I gave the character more of a propensity to use contractions, or had specific patterns that re-occur (such as double negatives, or some form of ain’t, en’t, as long as they are not obvious Americanisms)? Ideas/opinions very welcome!

Good places to kill time in London

Time: present day
Location: London, England

I'm writing a story and I want my main character (female) to while away an evening in a coffee bar or pub or any place where they can be sat indoors and stay for an evening without having to spend a lot of money. I want it to be a quiet place and generally a nice place to be on your own and undisturbed. Ideally, but not necessarily, with a view or things to look out of the window at. My character is trying to figure some things out so she's just going to be sitting gazing rather vacantly into space thinking about things.

I live in London, but can't afford to visit every single coffee house in the city looking for somewhere that fits the bill and it's not really Google-able as I'm looking for personal recommendations really.

Any suggestions?

comparing a fictional writer to real ones to make a plot point

This is a question for literary types out there please.

I'm writing a short story based in the UK, one of the characters is an up-and-coming author who has just won the Costa. Contemporary time frame.

There are some themes in the story that I want to be echoed by this author's subject matter. He is Irish, by the way. These themes are:

colonialism, disenfranchisement, recovery of national identity/recovery of native cultural forms, resistance.

and conversely, contemporary cultural and social alienation due to modernity, fracturing communities, globalisation etc. A slightly different type of alienation than the post-colonial kind.

So I have this author being compared to, on the one hand, James Stephens and Flann O'Brien, and on the other hand, Pasternak. I'm not sure if the analogies make sense! Help, please. Are these comparisons at all plausible? Any suggestions? I think the Irish references are fine but not sure who to compare him to in terms of more contemporary alienation.

Thanks in advance

E.T.A. the main focus of the question is on whether it's plausible to compare him to these various quite different authors at the same time - is the combination plausible, can people imagine what that book would be like?
buffy spike black&violet by gilkurtisctx

'Cherry picker' or, crane with bucket...


Time is now, in the US. I'm basically asking about the kind of vehicles that a utility company would use to fix lines. A 'cherry picker', or a crane with a bucket that is mounted on the back of a truck.

What I need to know is - are the controls for the crane in the bucket itself, in the cab/back of the truck, or split between them?

This is the sort of vehicle I mean:

Thank you!

ETA: Got it! Thanks again.

Cleaning a Sword After a Battle

Is there anyone who knows anything about swords and how quickly they should be cleaned?

My character has killed a few people indoors with a sabre and then he decides to carry something heavy (a child actually) and needs both hands to do it. What does he do with his blade? He can't just leave it lying around, because he won't be able to return there and that particular sabre is needed later in the story.

But if a blade can really be cleaned by just swinging it once with a sharp motion, the rest of this post is not needed, because he'll have both the space and time to do that.

My original plan was for him to sheath the sabre uncleaned and lift the child up. However, the blade is bloody. Does he need to get a new scabbard after this stunt? Does sheathing a bloody sword destroy the scabbard? He'll have time to clean the blade after approximately half an hour of hauling the child around. Is there anyway to clean the inside of the sheath, too?

The material of neither the shield nor the blade is vital to the story line, so if some material a sheath can be made of would stand the blood for that crucial half an hour, informing me would be pure kindness.

The story is set in an alternative universe (no magic, though), so giving an exact year wouldn't help. I was mostly thinking of society resembling the Middle Ages (about 1000-1200 AD), so they certainly don't have modern sword maintenance kits at hand!

Searched (in vain): sword sheathing / bloody sword / sword blood sheathing / bloody sword cleaning / sword blood cleaning / sword cleaning sword


ETA: Thanks for all the wonderful advice and tips! You have helped a lot and given me many useful ideas.

Sam/Dean // Grab

Victim of theft during a holiday

Last time you gave me brilliant advices for my fic, so I figured I'd ask you once again.

Modern time setting, my main character is turning back home [Newark, NJ] on New Years Eve, but his flight gets canceled due to bad weather, and while he's waiting at the airport [O'Hare, Chicago], somebody steals both his wallet and cell. I basically need to know what happens next, after he files a police report. How is he supposed to turn back home, since he has no money, no flight ticket and no mobile anymore? Is there any 'standard procedure' when such things happen?

I tried to search the community archive and to google various combinations of words [to mention some, 'theft', 'stolen wallet', 'police procedure'], but of course with no luck.

ETA: Hey, you're awesome ♥ thank you!
Rabbit 1

Drugs Found In USA Military First Aid Kits!

Okay folks here we go again.

In a multinational civilian expedition, one of their scientists is about to be sent to a possible hostile situation were they have both friendlies and enemies there. This situation is set on another planet, and the military escorts are of the United States Air Force and Marines, current times. Though they don't know who is who. He can't take any weapons with him other than a couple of knives. So the Doctor of the team gives him several hypodermical needles filled with various things. 

I tried looking for it in google under first aid kits and drugs in first air kits  and military first aid but it didn't give me the information I was looking for.

So what I need is to know what kind of drugs can be found in a military field first aid kit that can knock out or maim a person. The names, side affects and the what they are used for is what I'm looking for.

And in case anyone is wondering, yes, this is Stargate Atlantis and it's Doctor McKay is being sent and this is Season 4. Thank you! Help much appreciated!

Leverage - OT3

Scam artists and arrest


I hope someone on this community can help clarify a couple of things for me. Most of the information I've come across doesn't go into the nitty gritty of this sort of thing. I'm writing a story in which one of the characters is running a smallish investment scam, very similar to a Ponzi scheme. Eventually, as these things usually go, the authorities investigate and they arrest him on conspiracy to commit fraud.

My question is what happens to his and his company's assets? I assume most if not all of it is appropriated for restitution. Much of his money that's not tied directly to the scam has been used for cash goods or personal property such as very expensive furnishings, unique art that doesn't depreciate, etc. He also owns his house outright. I can have him own land as something else, too. Would all of this be subject to restitution for those that lost money with him? ETA: The story is set in Southern California, in the late 80s.

If he had put the house under his wife's name, would that save it from being appropriated? I'm assuming that his dependents would be out of luck, as well, with anything they own that's technically his. Any information would be greatly appreciated!

Building boomtowns in the 1870s

I know that the gold deposits was discovered in South Dakota in November 1875, and by 1876 Deadwood looked like this. Obviously it doesn't take a long time for one of these gold-fueled mining towns to spring up, but I haven't been able to find out how long.

I'm writing about a fictional town rather like Deadwood in the Black Hills in South Dakota. I need to know how long, precisely, it would take to build one, so I can work backwards and figure out when it would have been founded. How much time would it take to build a typical structure there? How many resources would you have to import?

I Googled things like "Deadwood building" (didn't work out), boomtowns, gold rush boomtowns, construction.
  • asitha

air force re-enlistment

My story is taking place in current day USA (in multiple states). 

The character is in fire protection and his enlistment (6 year) is about to be up.  He’s around 24.  I was wondering how long you have to decide if you want to re-enlist; like do you have to be certain and start the process two months ahead of time, how long do you have to back out?  Ultimately he’s not going to re-enlist, but he’s seriously thinking about it and doesn’t at the last minute.  I need to know when that last minute is.

I’ve googled things like ‘when to re-enlist air force’ and ‘time frame for re-enlistment’  I’ve also tried looking on wikipedia but haven’t been able to find what I’m looking for.

I was also thinking about a medical discharge.  From what I’ve been able to find it seems like it’s either a really long and difficult process, or he would have to be really badly injured (like not able to heal and join the fire department later) to get a discharge.  Am I right?  He just needs to get out fairly quickly and be able to be a fireman afterwards.

Any help would be appreciated.  Thanks.