Yami: You have assembled several creatures! Surely this is a violation?
Kaiba: My affluence makes a nonsense of the regulations!
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 (except some words like “mustn’t”); 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. Expect a Dastardly Whiplash type to speak in this manner. 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.
- 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!
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is narrated in this fashion.
- A main comic element of "Raffles the Gentleman Thug", found in Viz, is the rewriting of familiar coarse exclamations in an antiquated style.
- Doctor Grordbort's Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory, from Dark Horse Comics, is written entirely in this style.
- The Luck of Dennis St. Michel, Viscount Stokington
- David Langford once wrote a piece in this style, describing an imagined convention of scientific-romance authors in 1882. It's online here.
- Some Axis Powers Hetalia fanfics verge into this trope by exaggerating Austria's tendency to speak in very formal and proper language.
- Fanfics by Total Drama devotee Gideoncrawle use this trope, often in subdued form matching the writer's Signature Style. However, the trope is occasionally Played Straight or even exaggerated, e.g. by rendering dates as "The Year Of Our Lord Two Thousand Six".
- A Cold Calculus has C.C. speaking either in this or via Shakespeare quotes. It grates on the members of the resistance cell since they can't understand a thing she says without Kallen to translate. It's revealed later in the story that she does this to get around a mental block placed on her.
- In a Recap Episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, Seto Kaiba translates the famous line "Screw the Rules, I Have Money!" into: "My affluence makes a nonsense of the regulations!"
- On YouTube, a collection of videos had users editing the "Meet the Team" shorts in Team Fortress 2 and dubbing them with an electronic text-to-speech voice speaking in this manner, typically accompanied by top hats, monocles, mustaches, and classical music. There's an example here.
- Sir Suzaku Kururugi uses this style in the condensed series by Sehanort.
- A recap of a Bleach episode (which hardly pertained to the overall plot) used this style: Chapter One-Hundred and Eighty-Four of the Tale of Bleach.
- The Posh Breakdown of the Gorilla Who Refers To Himself as an Ass rewrites the theme of Donkey Kong 64 in this manner.
- MrTennek's The Posh Mothershuckling Dangle Dongler Hour, a very posh remake of Hotel Mario. It's one of the earliest one of these kinds of videos, if not the earliest, and once it became popular others decided to Follow the Leader.
- Tangled has Flynn Rider speak a few lines in this manner.
- 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.
- 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.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
Thor: You have no idea what this is.
- Thor 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:
Iron Man: Ah, "Shakespeare in the Park"? Doeth mother know you wear-eth her drapes?
[Thor actually smiles slightly]
- Thor 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.)
- Older Than Television: In the 1920s and surrounding years, H.P. Lovecraft wrote in a style heavily evocative of the 1890s. The trope is further perpetuated (or even aggravated) by Lovecraft's many imitators.
- Jack Vance is noted for his highly eloquent style, somewhat reminiscent of that of James Branch Cabell.
- Lord Dunsany (who was born in the 19th Century but lived well into the 20th) was famous for his use of archaicisms to give an otherworldly feel to his stories.
- Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell manages a pitch-perfect turn-of-the-19th-century style, at times redolent of Jane Austen.
- The Khaavren Romances are written in stylistic homage to Alexandre Dumas.
- The Aubrey-Maturin novels indulge in the language of Napoleonic Wars.
- Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon
- The Sot-Weed Factor, by John Barth, is written entirely in the language of Queen Anne's era.
- Charles Stross' Trunk and Disorderly is written in a stylistic pastiche of P. G. Wodehouse.
- Doctor Grordbort's Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory
- A Series of Unfortunate Events is gently dusted with archaic words.
- Wondermark creator David Malki! is fond of writing parodic Victorian novels.
- In Twilight, Edward Cullen is often claimed to speak in this manner, but the dialogue actually provided in the book doesn't provide evidence in that direction.
- Helion and Phaethon (and others) in John C. Wright's The Golden Oecumene speak in this manner.
- Some of Emma Donoghue's novels (e.g. Slammerkin, Life Mask) use this style, fitting their Georgian-Era setting.
- The Introductions to the Penguin translations of Émile Zola's novels explicitly discuss trying to avert this trope. (The translators felt that what Zola wished to accomplish would be better rendered in modern English vernacular than in something overtly equivalent to the 19th-century French in which Zola wrote.)
- The main character of The Full Matilda speaks (and writes) in this style.
- Darkness Visible, being a Sci-Fi novel set in Victorian times, naturally indulges in this trope.
- In Gemma Doyle, a Gaslamp Fantasy, the characters speak in Victorian language.
- Temeraire uses the language of the Napoleonic Wars era. Some readers say the result is what Jane Austen and Anne McCaffrey would have written together after playing Dungeons & Dragons.
- Members of the V.F.D. in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography speak in this style.
- Played with in Witchell A Symphony: the less someone wants to talk about something, the more likely it is that they will speaking increasingly archaic and obfuscating patterns of speech.
- The vampires in The Saga of Darren Shan speak this way, being mostly centuries-old immortals who live apart from changing human societies.
- The entire narration of The Time Ships is a throwback to the 1890s style used by H. G. Wells - not surprising, since the narrator, the Time Traveler is the same character as in The Time Machine.
- Shakespeare speaks in an archaic way, including using the outdated first-person pronoun "wagahai" to refer to himself in the Japanese version. In the English version, it dips into Ye Old Butcherede English at times.
- Atalanta, befitting a serious, noble huntress, speaks in an old, formal Japanese manner.
- 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.
- McSweeney'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
Scaphio: Explodes in his auriculars.
- 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.
- Fallout uses this style for the Mr. Handy automata, to invoke the image of a British butler from old-time films.
- Cyan Garamonde of Final Fantasy VI speaks in an archaic form of Japanese because he's a traditional samurai from the foreign land of Doma, leading Wild Child Gau to refer to him as "Mister Thou." (The first translation used Ye Olde Butchered Englishe, but the second cleaned it up into something more accurate.)
- In Final Fantasy XII, everyone except Vaan and Penelo indulges in this at least a little.
- Bastian of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and its sequel does a fair impression of a character out of Shakespeare... and nobody else does. Lucia notes that he'd never have been able to disguise himself as a merchant, so his cover was as a street performer instead.
- 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."
- Yōko in Onmyōji uses archaic and formal language, like fumizuki, the classical word for July, rather than normal shichigatsu (in contrast with Yuki-onna who uses the normal word for September, kugatsu). He is also notorious for using the stilted and archaic first-person pronoun shōsei.
- 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?
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Tsun, the old Nordic god of "trials over adversity" and shield-thane of Shor speaks this way when met in Sovngarde. He uses an old-fashioned, almost "sing-songy", word order, in addition to throwing out some rather archaic terms. For example, if the Dragonborn claims to be a Nightingale or the Listener:
"Welcome I do not offer, but your errand I will not hinder, if my wrath you can withstand."
- 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.
- In Darths & Droids, Darth Maul speaks like an old-fashioned hard-boiled detective.
- Jake English of Homestuck is, tragically, wholly unaware of the anachronistic nature of his language. Jake does, however, periodically breach the typical structure of this diction with fucking profanity.
GT: Nor am i a quaint man of the past. Pardon me but do i SOUND like some trollycar bellwether toiling in the heart of the mustache belt from the ruff n tumble year of nineteen aught nine???
TT: He said unironically.
- Step right up, Ladies and Gentlemen, and be astounded at the amazing Doctor Carefree's Laser Feet.
- Largely averted in Hark! A Vagrant, which most often uses modern English for anachronistic Rule of Funny purposes.
- Eat Your Kimchi did an episode in Silent-Era style, particularly notable for a postlude featuring an encore rendition of "Shots" by LMFAO using archaic vocabulary.
- Uncyclopedia's article on Charles Dickens is written in a Dickens-spoofing style, recalling those rumors that Dickens went into such ornate detail because he was paid by the word.
- 4chan, of all places, occasionally finds its users indulging in this style. The meme is typically called "verbose" or "gentleman."
- The title character of Salad Fingers speaks in this style.
- Memes featuring Joseph Ducreux's self-portrait take this trope into the realm of Memetic Mutation.
- GameChap, owner of a YouTube channel devoted to Minecraft, uses this style.
- Frilly Shirt displays the trope in abundance, in keeping with its humorous conceit of being the journal of a bohemian Belle Époque baronet.
- The Celebrated Magazine uses this style.
- The Ultra Fast Pony episode "Rainbow V Daring" has Rainbow Dash dip into this when she meets Daring Do.
Rainbow Dash: You foul villain hath stolen from mine identity, and I seek, nay, demand retribution!Rainbow Dash: Aw crap, she's smarter than I am!
- 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.
- Mr. Burns, all the time.
- 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.
- Family Guy:
- Stewart 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. Being trapped in the moon for a thousand years can do that to you.
- 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?
- 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 southern Africa (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, largely staffed by particularly fusty teachers whose linguistic proscriptions were largely seen as out-of-date back in Britain. As these teachers' lessons were the main sources of English in southern Africa, Southern African English absorbed these patterns as normal rather than hopelessly archaic.
- 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.
- A sort of French equivalent: Guernsey French, a.k.a. 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.
- Also, Quebec French sounds closer to seventeenth-century French than modern Metropolitan (Parisian) French, and thus, people from Quebec sound rather "hick" to people from Paris. They also have the odd practice that swear words come from Catholic religious objects like "Tabernac" and "Calise".
- The Dutch equivalent: to the Dutch, Afrikaans, and to a lesser degree even Flemish, sounds like an antiquated and simplified version of Dutch. This gives Afrikaans the reputation of being "baby talk" among Dutch-speakers, a characterization to which Afrikaans-speakers justifiably take offense.
- 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.
- Due to its isolation, the Korean used in North Korea is basically the Korean equivalent of this. The language as it is used in the South has changed dramatically thanks to foreign loanwords (mainly English and Japanese) and the internet. Meanwhile, the language as it is used in the North has been practically locked away in a time capsule and the North Korean government prohibits the use of foreign loanwords (meaning local equivalents have to be created). This, in combination with (from the South Korean perspective) archaic spelling and a nigh-incomprehensible accent, means that North Koreans and South Koreans have difficulty understanding each other, to the point where South Korean TV channels have to subtitle North Koreans when they're shown speaking and even a a literal translator app has been created.
- This Objectivity video gives a good example of how common this kind of flowery language was in the 19th century. George Everest wrote a letter to his acquaintance John Herschel in 1844. The letter starts with:
"My dear sir, I went to the York Association, buoyed up chiefly by the hope that I might have the pleasure of meeting you there, and to my infinite disappointment found my journey insofar undertaken in vain. I greatly hoped to express to you my regret that there should ever have been the semblance of a cause for disagreement between us."