We heard from Ian Flitcroft, the creator of a fabulous new tool for writers who are trying to get the correct period sound for their work: The Jane Austen Thesaurus. Ian wrote,
This site provides a completely free Austen thesaurus allowing users to see if Jane Austen used a particular word, how often it appeared in her novels and what other semantically related words she might have used in its stead. It also lets you know what related words she never used, one of which is, of course, the word ‘zombie’.
This sounds a bit academic but in reality it is intended as a fun tool for Austen enthusiasts who, when looking up that perfect word, would, naturally enough, prefer to choose a word that was used by Austen herself.
What fun! And how useful! We decided to put it through its paces with a word we were fairly certain never appeared in a Jane Austen novel, Ada Lovelace notwithstanding: computer.
Jane Austen never used this word.
In place of ‘computer’ you could select one of the following words that was used by Jane Austen:
(numbers in brackets tell you how often she used that word)
printer (1), reckoner (1),
You may wish to note that Jane Austen never used any of these related words:
multiplier, integrator, estimator, figurer, hardware, receptor, telecomputer, transmitter, statistician, relay, selector, divider, adder, analyzer, bookkeeper, actuary, accountant, IDA, Teleplotter, Telereader, abacist, calculator, coder, differential, detector, decoder, collator, compiler, computer,
Guess it told us! Note you can also click the button for “What Word Would Jane Use?”, which is the thesaurus, so you can look up the proper word. Now, if we can only get authors to stop sending Darcy and Lizzy to gift shops conveniently located in country inns, we might be getting somewhere.