Antiquated Linguistics
Kaiba: Your brash nature offends me, Mr. Moto! I shall soon put an end to your impertinence!
Yami: You have assembled several creatures! Surely this is a violation?
Kaiba: My affluence makes a nonsense of the regulations!
Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, Episode 35 (this scene, in particular, is a parody of old black and white silent films).

A lot of clichés surround the English language as it was used in the 18th and 19th centuries: a tendency not to shorten or abbreviate words; an abundance of hyphens (not only for compound words, but even for words with more clearly defined prefixes or suffixes); a fondness for now-outmoded typographical conventions such as the long s (ſ); and, of course, a love of Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness and Purple Prose.

Put any of these quirks together, and you get Antiquated Linguistics: the Theme Park Version of language from the Georgian and Victorian Eras. Works set between about 1700 and 1930 are particularly susceptible to this trope, but it's by no means limited to them; some creators dip into Antiquated Linguistics for comic effect or simply to mark a particular character's speech pattern as old-fashioned. Affecting this kind of English can often serve as a Translation Convention.

Not to be confused with other, separate Theme Park Versions of old-fashioned English: Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe (generic Medieval/Renaissance lingo, a.k.a. "gadzookery"), Flowery Elizabethan English (ornate language smelling vaguely of Shakespeare and/or the King James Bible), and Talk Like a Pirate (arrrr). Compare and contrast Buffy Speak and Spock Speak. And, for those who can't get enough of Antiquated Linguistics, this page is also available in a self-demonstrating version.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Naruto, Rock Lee uses the most formal declensions and pronouns available in Japanese. The Viz Media translation matches this by having him speak without any contractions.
  • Hotohori in Fushigi Yuugi
  • Madame Maya Natsume in Tenjho Tenge
  • In Kannagi, Nagi's obsolete Japanese is translated into Antiquated Linguistics, with a hint of J. R. R. Tolkien for good measure. ("Fool of a Jin!")
  • Sir Randsborg in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's
  • In Castle Town Dandelion, unlike all his other siblings and in spite of being 6, Teru uses terms like Hahaue for his mother Satsuki, as well as Aniue for Shu and Oneesama for Hikari.
  • Heard from Kuroh Yatogami in K, a swordsman from a secluded mountain area who comes to Tokyo to fulfill his late master's request. This can make his interactions with other, more modern characters interesting.
    Kuroh: Be warned that if you choose to fight me, I shall show no mercy!
    Yata: Fuck you!

    Comic Books 


  • Time Changer is noted for its tendency to employ this trope. (In the words of one reviewer: "Victorian speech apparently consisted of big words, no contractions, and saying 'sir' a whole lot.")
  • Kate & Leopold has the impeccably Victorian politeness of Duke Leopold...which, of course, the others assume is only an act.
  • Tangled has Flynn Rider speak a few lines in this manner.
  • Captain Jack Sparrow tends toward this style in Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • The Lord of the Rings uses the trope as well: "It would seem like wisdom but for the warning in my heart."
  • The characters in Ivan Vasilievich Changes Profession speak Russian with slightly antiquated grammar and employ words no longer in wide usage, yet still are recognizable by the audience (mostly through the Russian Orthodox Church's use of Old Church Slavonic).
  • Characters from 1885 in Back to the Future Part III use archaic language, which leads into a Subverted Catchphrase joke about "Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!" becoming "nobody calls me yellow". On the DVD Commentary, screenwriter Robert Gale says he turned to Mark Twain's writings to attempt the American vernacular of the period.
  • The young characters in Youth in Revolt use a rather astonishingly sophisticated style. On the other hand, Nick does wish to be a writer.
  • Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe exhibits a formal and slightly antiquated manner of speaking, as does Loki. (In most Marvel Universe comic books, by contrast, the Asgardians use Flowery Elizabethan English instead.)
    Loki: You need the cube to bring me home, but I've sent it off, I know not where.
  • Tony Stark lampshades this in The Avengers when he meets Thor:
    Thor: You have no idea what this is.
    Stark: Ah, "Shakespeare in the Park"? Doeth mother know you wear-eth her drapes?
    (Thor actually smiles slightly)


    Live-Action Television 
  • In Professional Wrestling, Bob Backlund uses this style for his dressing-downs.
  • Mike Nelson, of Mystery Science Theater 3000, published several essays in which he often affects a highly formal syntax for comic effect. Mike Nelson's Movie MegaCheese applies the style to reviews of films and shows like Action Jackson and Baywatch.
  • The French TV series Nicolas Le Floch, chronicling the life of a policeman in the court of Louis XV, uses an antiquated style.
  • The ghosts in Dead Gorgeous speak this way.
  • Deadwood was notable for its distinctive archaic language (as well as its more frequently remarked achievements in vocabulary). Characters frequently spoke in lengthy, precisely structured, and apparently extemporaneous complex compound sentences, with never a word out of place nor a clause left fuckin' dangling.
  • Almost entirely averted in Murdoch Mysteries, where characters use antiquated words only when modern ones weren't in common use at the time.
  • On Supernatural, the angel Gadreel speaks in this style.

  • Hall, Gates and Edgar, of the band Tripod, had the Songs from Self Saucing sleeve notes written in this style. (For example, the track listing is headed "A Complete Listing of the Songs from Self-Saucing: For the benefit of those prevaricating upon the purchase of this Audio product.")

  • The Onion has an invented backstory in which it was founded as The Mercantile-Onion by T. Herman Zweibel, whose own written pieces for the newspaper are very much in this style, with words like "fisticuffsmanship" employed.
    • The Onion-based book Our Dumb Century, used this style for many of its mocked-up historical newspaper pages.
  • Mc Sweeney's Quarterly Concern makes a point of using Victorianesque titles and appellations.
  • Motor Sport magazine, though not a place one would expect to find antiquated anything, still calls its monthly news summary "Matters of Moment."
  • The Chap is rife with hyphens, antiquated verbiage, and similar linguistic japes.
  • The New Yorker indulges in diacritical marks in a rather antiquated fashion.
  • The free Australian paper BMA Magazine is enlivened by the column "Egads!", in which one Gideon Foxworthy-Smythe (who purports to be a temporally displaced Edwardian gentleman) lambastes the Youth of Today for their lack of manners and ludicrously low-hanging trousers.

  • In Ed Reardon's Week, one of Ed's (several) problems is that he's so ensconced in antiquated linguistics that he can't ape the speech patterns of his peers.

  • Gilbert and Sullivan qualify for this trope by writing dialogue that was quaint and antiquated even by the standards of Victorian England (hence its humorous quality). "I wouldn't say a word that would be reckoned as injurious/But to find a mother younger than her son is very curious/And that's the kind of mother that is usually spurious/Tarradiddle Tarradiddle Tol-lol-lay!"
    • In Utopia, Limited, we have these lines:
    Scaphio: A pound of dynamite
    Phantis: -amite
    Scaphio: Explodes in his auriculars.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Spirit of the Century employs this trope throughout, and encourages its use among players.
  • James Wallis's The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen is written in the vernacular of a true British gentleman of the Baron's era, and admonishes the players to do the same.

    Video Games 
  • Fallout uses this style for the Mr. Handy automata, to invoke the image of a British butler from old-time films.
  • In Final Fantasy XII, everyone except Vaan and Penelo indulges in this at least a little.
  • Discussed in Guild Wars 2: "Sirrah, I can't find anyone to tell me the story of the old ruins." "Sirrah? Nobody talks like that anymore." "I do." "And that's why no-one is talking to you."
  • The Icarus in Sacrifice speaks in the language of a WWI British Ace Pilot.
  • Beatrice, the millennium-old witch in Umineko: When They Cry, uses archaic language.
  • In Robopon, Cody has a touch of this.
    Cody: Should I put an end to Bisco's goon's treachery?

    Visual Novels 
  • In Akatsuki No Goei's route for Kyouka, Kaito gets mad at her for always talking like a cliche rich girl. Nobody has really talked like that for decades and this story takes place about fifty years in the future, making her even more archaic. When he makes her try to speak normally, at first it's slow and halting and filled with errors until eventually she admits that it's just an affectation and she can speak normally, but her parents expect her to talk like that and asks him to just leave her alone about it.
  • King Gilgamesh in Fate/stay night speaks only in an old and respectable Japanese dialect.

     Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Mr. Herriman in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends
  • The Simpsons provides several examples:
    • Mr. Burns, all the time.
    Mr Burns: You there! Fill her up with petroleum distillate. And revulcanise my tyres, posthaste!
    • The Simpsons themselves speak like this in "Helter Shelter", when participating in a documentary recreating life in 1895.
    • In another episode, there's the "Rosetta Crone," which translates antiquated to modern English and vice versa.
  • Hedonism Bot in Futurama speaks almost exclusively in this way: "Oh sirrah! A man writing an opera about a woman!? How deliciously absurd!"
    • As does Bender when he decides to switch his voice to "King" mode.
  • Stewart in Family Guy is wont to indulge in this.
    • Brian uses some antiquated terms in the episode where he proposes to an older woman.
  • Lady Tottington in Wallace & Gromit
  • Princess Luna in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
  • The Penguin in Batman: The Animated Series
  • Dr. Byron Orpheus in The Venture Bros.
    Dr. Orpheus: Hear me out! [clears throat] When young women reach estrus, the, uhh, lignum, ummm, craves theeee stamen-like skills of the yonie. This is quite natural.
    Triana: Dad. Come on. I'm doing you a favor.
    Dr. Orpheus: It's just that boys at their age have unchecked desires coursing, nay RAGING AS A TEMPEST WOULD!! Through their tingling nethers!
  • Kenny, briefly, in South Park
    Stan: "On the 'morrow? The fuck is wrong with Kenny?"

    Real Life 
  • In his autobiography God's Smuggler, Brother Andrew (1928 - ) explains that he first learned English by using a Dutch-English Dictionary and the King James Bible. He recounts that he once translated "Pass the butter" as "Thus sayeth the neighbor of Andrew, that thou wouldst be pleased to pass the butter?"
  • Old-fashioned language is common among English speakers in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi. This is of course a consequence of many years of British rule in that part of the world, particularly the use of the British educational system.
    • Alexander McCall Smith evokes the tendency in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and its sequels.
    • Also true in India and neighboring countries, to the point that many there pride themselves on speaking "proper" English, having preserved the accent and syntax approved before the dismantling of The British Empire.
    • There's an element of this under the trope of Separated by a Common Language. The majority of words that differ between the USA and the UK date from the period between the American Revolution and the advent of telecommunications.
  • A sort of French equivalent: Guernsey French, AKA Guernesiais, spoken on the Island of Guernsey (a few miles off Normandy, but technically under the British crown, though with independent government). It's said to be a version of the northern dialect of French people marooned there after the last British territory on the European mainland fell to France in the fifteenth century. It's also spoken with a heavy English Accent (most Channel Islanders these days speak English anyway), and so practically incomprehensible to modern French speakers.
  • The Dutch equivalent: to the Dutch, Afrikaans, and to a lesser degree even Flemish, sounds like an antiquated version of Dutch.
  • Masonic rituals are heavy with archaic usages that often confuse non-members (and even some members!). Actually understanding what's being said is a more effective password than the actual passwords.