Check out: A Period Literary Corpus

A quick followup to last week’s post about anachronisms in period storytelling. In the comments, Howard pointed out this undertaking by author Mary Robinette Kowal, whose novels are set in the world of Jane Austen:

There are a lot of words which are obviously anachronisms but there others which aren’t. Short of looking up every word in a novel, there’s no way to really know if a seemingly innocuous word like “hello” exists yet.

So here’s my plan for Glamour in Glass.

I’ve created a list of all the words that are in the collected works of Jane Austen to use for my spellcheck dictionary. It will flag any word that she didn’t use and I can then look those up to see if it was in use in 1815… [read more]

I love this idea. I wish it were easier to dial up, say, the corpus of 1910s-1930s adventure stories, or whatever you wanted. Another tool among many to help writers approach a period-accurate feel if desired. I’d love to hear about things others have done along the same lines — leave a comment if you know of any more examples! [Comments]

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