Watching a classic film or listening to a classic rock song is enough to point out many typical words, slangs, accents and manners of speaking that have been mostly lost, but are still fabulous.
Let's take a look at a few of them, shall we?
I. The Mid-Atlantic Accent
|Actors Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant|
"Ah know when to gaw wheah I'm not wounted! And don't you wahrry about me: Ah can take keah of mahself!"
Poor Katharine. What she intended to say was: "I know when to go where I'm not wanted. And don't you worry about me: I can take care of myself!" She was a speaker of the Mid-Atlantic Accent.
Phonetically, the Mid-Atlantic Accent is one of a kind on the English language. It has both North American and British influences, and both to almost the same degree. It exaggerates vowels, adding "a" and "e" where they don't belong, and it minimizes 'r' sounds, transforming them into almost "AH". Just as Katharine called her notorious beau Spencer Tracy, "Spensah".
The Mid-Atlantic Accent was considered a rather normal way of speaking in those glorious decades. Despite its almost being lost today, it is recognized as one of the most charming ways of speaking of all time. Some attribute Cary Grant's charm to his chin, some to his accent. And, really, can you blame them?
II. The Over-The-Top Adjectives
Marvellous! Extraordinary! Splendid! Terrific! Formidable!
|Formidable actress Audrey Hepburn|
But, hey, let's be fair. It's not like the pre-1960 folks didn't have slangs of their own. My favorite one is "swell", word that today has but a negative meaning, was used to describe anything nice, pretty, useful... the list goes on. Basically, swell means everything good. You are swell for reading my blog. I am swell for writing it. We are swell, life is swell. Hooray!
|Actor Humphrey Bogart and his "Baby"|
Okay, let's be fair and square: Not everyone in the pre-1960 era was polite. Of course not. There are lurid people and swell people in every decade. But, the speech back then was so much more polite. You were neither woman nor man, you were lady or gentleman. There was no snogging or canoodling, there was smooching. To make love was more often than not used in favor of to have sex. This is a reflection of two different mindsets: It was both an era where discretion was valued, and the openness of conversation that we have today was not present; and an era where love, affection, companionship was far more valued by society and, mind you, by the media, than sex.
Another endearing proof of the second mindset mentioned were the terms of endearment all too often used between people. Darling was the shining star, used by almost everyone. Honey was pretty common among married couples and sweetheart was used in referring to small children or among friends of the female sex. Baby was almost private property of actor Humphrey Bogart and his wife, also actress, Lauren Bacall. It's my impossible dream to live a devastating love with a man from the forties, who treats me like a queen and calls me darling. Oh, well.
Anyhoo, that will be all for today, my pals and gals. I hope you all enjoyed my swell little post on the Vintage Lingo, and please leave comments and suggestions in the comment box! Thank you for your visit and I hope to see you again!