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The 1800’s were a vulgar, obscene time in history

If you’ve never had the opportunity to visit the Old Country (Germany, Italy, France, etc), you’ll be amazed at how history surrounds you at every turn when you do finally make it over there.

Everywhere you look will be some ancient building or piece of art, forever preserved for the never-ending crowds of ooh-ing and aahh-ing tourists.  Even just stepping out of the high-speed, modern train station in Venice is like stepping immediately into the 14th century (get to Venice while you can, before it sinks away into the sea forever – it’s worth the trip).

Gutenberg: How One Man Remade the World with Words
Gutenberg: How One Man Remade the World with Words

Looking at all the old art, there’s one thing that’s abundantly clear:  people from that time in history had some awesome-looking abdominal muscles, if what we see in the statue gardens is accurate.

But enough about art.  Let’s talk about language.

And more specifically, the VULGAR LANGUAGE OF 1811, courtesy of Project Gutenberg.  It’s a “dictionary of buckish slang, univerity wit, and pickpocket eloquence”, and was written in part by somebody credited as HELL-FIRE DICKThere’s a name for ya.

To be sure, let’s look at one specific line from the preface:

It is impossible that a female should understand the meaning of TWIDDLE DIDDLES, or rise from table at the mention of BUCKINGER’S BOOT

Ladies?  How do you feel about this?   If it helps, you certainly do know what Twiddle Diddles are, even if you haven’t experienced them yourself.  As for Buckinger’s Boot, well – he just sounds like an interesting fellow.  No need to leave the table today.

But let’s take a look at some randomly-selected words from the VULGER DICTIONARY, shall we?  Interesting enough, many of the terms in this listing are still in use today, albeit with slightly different definitions.

  • ADMIRAL OF THE NARROW SEAS: someone who drunk vomits into the lap of the person sitting opposite them
  • APPLE DUMPLIN SHOP: a woman’s breasts
  • BUNTER: a dirty prostitute, half whore and half beggar
  • CHEESER: a strong-smelling fart
  • PIECE: a wench; a damned good or bad piece; a girl who is more or less active and skilful in amourous congress
  • SLUSH BUCKET: one who eats too much greasy food
  • THOROUGH COUGH: coughing and farting at the same time