Questions tagged [20th-century-language]

For questions relating to 20th century English, i.e. 1901-2000.

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1answer
111 views

What does Scandinavian Home mean? Late XIX, early XX century. Great Britain

Joseph Conrad, "The Nigger Of The "Narcissus": A Tale Of The Forecastle": the two young Norwegians looked tidy, meek, and altogether of a promising material for the kind ladies who patronise the ...
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0answers
49 views

Meaning of “fresh drummer” 1890-1944

I've begun reading the introduction to Best of H.T. Webster on Archive.org and came across this paragraph on page 9: Webby had not yet reached his teens when the family moved to a small Wisconsin ...
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1answer
401 views

Origin of phrase “dollars to doughnuts” [closed]

What is the origin of the phrase "dollars to doughnuts", and what is the phrase trying to convey when most commonly used?
4
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3answers
2k views

Was Nabi Tajima (died this week at 117) born in the 19th or 20th Century? [closed]

A great-great-great grandmother thought to be the oldest person in the world has died in Japan aged 117. Nabi Tajima, who was born August 4, 1900, became the world's oldest seven months ago after ...
3
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2answers
121k views

Where does the expression “spill the tea” come from? [closed]

According to Wiktionary, spill the tea (idiomatic, informal) means: To disclose information, especially of a sensitive nature. Apparently, the expression appears to be a recent one. 2012, ...
1
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0answers
48 views

Did everyday Americans really speak like they did on the radio? [duplicate]

When you listen to old radio broadcasts such as the War of the World or this Dick Tracy radio feature, you can hear Americans having the kind of fast talking and inflections you associate with old-...
2
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1answer
98 views

What does “sidehill garger” mean? (early 20th-century American literature)

I am reading "Wood-Folk Comedies: The Play of Wild-Animal Life on a Natural Stage" written by William J. Long, a naturalist and author, published in 1920. When I was reading it I had a word that I ...
10
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2answers
292 views

Abbreviation 'p.e.p' on postcard from 1928

I am a first year History and English BA student in Devon, England. I am currently writing an essay examining primary sources, one of which is a postcard. I was wondering if you were able to offer any ...
2
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2answers
338 views

Orwell: “A glimmer [is] one who watches vacant motor-cars.” What does this mean?

Title is a quote from Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London. In this section he goes through a bunch of London slang terms and what they mean, but I don't understand his definition. What does it ...
2
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0answers
168 views

Was “St. Bartholomew's Day massacre” what people used before Kristallnacht happened?

The New York Times' first article on Adolf Hitler, "Hitler New Power in Germany", written in 1922 (but still paywalled), referred to fears of a St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. Was that the standard ...
3
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1answer
114 views

Recent shifts in semantics which lead to misunderstandings [closed]

I was just answering this question. It is about a use of "should". The word seems to have undergone a semantic shift away from a simple first-person form of "would". Instead it is today most often ...
1
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1answer
1k views

Definition of Female Empowerment [closed]

Does anyone have a good definition of female empowerment? It'd be extremely helpful if this came as a quote. Please link if possible!
3
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2answers
614 views

Capitalization in mid-20th century British English

While reading the early "Thomas the Tank Engine" books (published in the 1940s and 50s in Britain) I was struck by the somewhat odd capitalisation used. Most of the text is capitalised as in modern ...
0
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2answers
977 views

“Down in my boots”

May Sarton, an early 20th century poet, wrote in a letter: "Politically I am down in my boots." What could she mean? Angry? Frustrated? Disheartened?
2
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4answers
259 views

Was West Germany commonly referred to as “Germany”?

During the Cold War, in everyday conversation, was West Germany referred to as "Germany" like South Korea is currently often referred to as "Korea" and the People's Republic of China is currently ...
3
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3answers
2k views

Origin of “name happened” form: from “s*** happens” via “magic happens”?

There’s a form in current English Then <X> happened or <X> happened, where you transition the name of a thing (a person, a fictitious character, or object), to mean the dramatic ...