Value of historical thesaurus

Oscar1

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I don't write myself (not professionally at least), but I am obviously interested in writing (fanfic, etc..). Call me an enthusiast.
I made this process that will take historical book(s) and then crunch a thesaurus from them, by cross-referring it to modern terms and yada, yada... you know, boring tech stuff. So the result would be a thesaurus that only has strictly terms of a certain period (on the entry side), but it is referenced on the headword side to everything possible and kitchen sink, so you can basically type any word and get more or less a synonym used at the time period, ex: car -> barouche)

Now my question is, how would writers of historic fiction see such thing or see any value of such thing? Would that be useful at all, or I am just kidding myself? (My thesis is that it is useful, or at least curious - but I am not a writer) I honestly don't know, I make stuff as I go, so give me your ideas.
And if yes/no/depends, what should a historic thesaurus need to be actually useful.
 
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Catriona Grace

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It is an intriguing idea. I've seen similar publications that are devoted to a particular era and found them fascinating. They were useful while reading books written in past centuries, but when writing for modern readers, one might be leery of using archaic terms that break the flow of the story by forcing readers to pause and look up a term in the glossary.
 

Chris P

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I agree with Catriona, it is an interesting idea, and potentially quite useful. One of my (long stalled) WIPs takes place in 1917, and I needed to know what that Germans called tanks at the time, since "panzer" didn't come into use until the 1930s. For that matter, what did they call each other? "Jerries" is more of a WWII thing. (Answers: tanks were "panzerkampfwagen" or "sturmpanzerwagen." The English called the Germans "boche.")

But OOOOF! I don't envy you compiling all of this! Not only are some terms used for only a short while ("Information Super Highway" pretty much confines the user to the period between 1994 and 1999) but there are so many regional slang terms, particularly in historical times. Validating the actual uses will be a Herculean task. The full Oxford English Dictionary would help, but not likely to cover everything. The WWI examples from above took hours searching specifically for those terms and reading tons of articles and memoirs from the time.

All the best on the project!
 

Oscar1

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Information highway - darn, I forgot about that one, I should start using it instead of internet, and with a straight face.
 

Helix

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The WWI examples from above took hours searching specifically for those terms and reading tons of articles and memoirs from the time.

May I recommend Blackadder Goes Forth for WWI slang. I don't recall any reference to tanks, but there was certainly a lot of talk about the Boche and Fritz. They might also have used the Hun.
 
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ChaseJxyz

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Sounds very cool. When they were localizing The Great Ace Attorney for Western audiences, the head translator actually went and bought dictionaries/thesauruses from the late 18/early 1900s so that people were only using period-appropriate language, including spelling. And the end result is great! Obviously that is not something most people have the means of accessing, but some sort of online tool that lets you access that would be immensely helpful for many people.
 

Chris P

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Information highway - darn, I forgot about that one, I should start using it instead of internet, and with a straight face.
Yeah, all the best in that, too! :p