Asked • 06/03/19

Did people actually talk like they do in Pride and Prejudice?

The characters in *Pride and Prejudice* seem to speak in a way that is very distinct from most contemporary anglophones. Among the major unique features are: * Richer vocabulary * Readiness to use obscure synonyms and euphemisms (although perhaps at the time they were not so obscure) * Very roundabout style of speaking, where every thought is explained in great detail, with flowery language and taking a long time to get to the point * Everyone, even the less clever characters, seem like they are very witty and insightful every time they say something Notably, I felt like it would take a contemporary English-speaker great effort to speak as they do in the novel, and many would probably never be able to do it, meanwhile it seems like for the characters in the novel our present style of speech would be trivially easy to learn. My question is, did people ever actually speak like they do in the novel (outside of formal occasions and practiced speeches)? Or is this the 19th century version of Sorkin-speak? To be clear: I'm not asking whether people 200 years ago spoke like people do now. I'm asking whether people in 1813, of comparable class and education to the characters of the novel, spoke like the characters of the novel. In other words, does the novel's dialogue represent an accurate portrayal of the speech of its time, or is the dialogue "embellished" to make for better reading?

1 Expert Answer

By:

Lorri C. answered • 08/28/19

Tutor
New to Wyzant

English and Test Taking Skills Preparatory

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