A List of Alternative Wording
Articles > Voice

A List of Alternative Wordings

(including some to avoid)
by Eillis O'Boirne (©1990 Lee Forgue)

(with some help from the Senior Staff of the West Kingdom CoH)
Originally published in the West Kingdom's Herald's Handbook.

These words are listed in random order -- partially because we wrote them down as we thought of them, and partially because we don't want you to use this section as a "dictionary". Instead read through it without trying to memorize it, and use it to inspire and guide you. We know the list isn't complete -- please send in your ideas for inclusion in later editions. Feel free to send both "problem" words and other alternates for the words given here.

Automobile: Wagon, chariot, and wain are good words to use. You can actually use car -- the first OED citation is 1388 -- but most people will "hear" the word as an anachronism. SCA circumlocutions commonly used are fire-chariot and dragon, and most people will understand what you're getting at, but they tend to be "cute". Avoid them, along with auto and automobile.

X o'clock: Use phrases like "at the X hour ", "at the X hour after noon ", or "at X of the clock " Avoid using AM/PM if you possible can. Don't use military time (1500 hours), which is modern. Don't use canonical time, since most of us aren't sure whether prime comes before or after compline.

Watch: Chronometer and timepiece are OK, while wrist sundial is cute.

Signups (noun): "The Mistress of the Lists is accepting names for ", "Lists registration is now open ", and other such phrases should be used.

Sign up (verb): "Register for ", "Place you name on the list for ", and other such phrases should be used.

Bathroom: Standard SCA use is privy, although bathroom and restroom are acceptable. Also acceptable are water closet, outhouse and "euphemism". Best avoided are loo, WC, porta-potty, and such extravagances as "The Shrines of St. John of the Swirling Water".

Water faucet: Use well, spring or water tap. If there are no decorative fountains on site, fountain would be OK. Avoid creek or pool unless that is actually what you are talking about.

Drinking fountain: OK as is.

Garbage can/dumpster: Use trash receptacle, garbage container, or midden. Avoid dumpster.

Answering machine: You can say privy scribe, or simply request that people leave a message, without specifying the machine.

Flashlight: Use light or lantern.

Costume: Use clothing, tunics, robes, etc. Avoid costume. (We do not wear costumes -- we wear clothing!)

Car keys: This is usually part of a lost-and-found announcement. Use set of keys or ring of keys.

Driver's license: Also usually heard in lost-and-found announcements. There isn't really a good equivalent - use license.

Wallet: Is a perfectly good period word.

Money: This is a perfectly good word. So is cash. There is no need to get all forsoothly about it and say things about coin of the realm. And if you get circuitous enough, people won't know what you're talking about! We don't generally speak about units other than the dollar, which is an adaption of the older word thaler (pronounced tah-ler). So don't worry about it!

Tent: Use pavilion, even for mundane tents, You can also use the specific type, like yurt or viking pavilion.

Toilet paper: There is no good phrase -- the best we came up with was privy paper. Avoid any of the modern euphemisms, like T.P.

Tape recorder (turn on the): Use phrase like "Let the music begin!" or "Signal the musicians to start." Avoid the overly-affected captive-musicians, minstrels in a box, or tiny jongleurs, and the modern boom-box and ghetto-blaster.

Park rangers: Ranger is preferred, although the "cuter" King's Forester is acceptable.

Mundane police: Sheriffs, Town Constables, or Mundane Constables would be OK.

Mundane (noun): When speaking of "friendly" people, use visitors, guests, or potential members (if they are). For "non-friendly mundanes", use Non-SCA people or strangers. Avoid calling people "mundanes" --- some of them find it insulting.

Mundane (adjective): Use mundane or 20th century. Avoid the use the term real in this context.

Parking lot: If you can't give the precise location in acceptable words, try "out of sight" or "beyond the trees" (if it is). If not, use stableyard or parking field.