Unearth | Prologue Part 4 – Page 54

The word “nerd” didn’t exist 200 years ago, so I’m trying to come up with a period-appropriate term. Any suggestions?

 

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34 Responses to Unearth | Prologue Part 4 – Page 54

  1. Yakumo says:

    May I suggest craftsman? More of a social snub from high society however.

  2. zibodiz says:

    Your art always looks great, but I must say that you really outdid yourself in that first frame. Very lifelike.

  3. alurker says:

    I believe “Boffin” may be appropriate in this context – though I’m not sure of the era it was used.

  4. Thorin says:

    I’M just trying to figure out why he’s trying to draw a curve with a straight-edge….

    • Ed8 says:

      It’s because….ummmm…..He is a Genius! Do not argue with Genius! You cannot hope to understand it!

    • mvandinter says:

      That’s a tricky one, huh? Thinking about it makes my brain hurt.

    • Well, a circle is merely a polygon with an infinite number of sides. However, since we are not dealing with theoretical mathematics, and instead drawing with a finite number of lead of graphite molecules in the pencil, any curve drawn in Euclidean space is merely a close approximation.

      Therefore, if you rotate the straight edge to the differential gradient of the line every atom drawn, you will have a perfect curve.

      Or:

      It looks to me like the curve is finished, but he is sketching something else, but with the set square nearby in order to draw something else.

  5. Zipper says:

    Mewling Quim was a good way of calling someone a “pussy” or a “wimp” back then.

  6.      says:

    Shouldn’t it be “of rottEn wood”? And that moat should have crocodriles too. Just to make sure…

  7. Mastrius0713 says:

    Boffin apparently was a fictional name used by Charles Dickens in 1864 and was used during WWII to denote a scientist or engineer.

  8. Mr. Miller says:

    Emily didn’t really get big until the 1890s (so maybe a bit late for this timeframe,) but you could call someone a “Dickinson” to indicate a nerdy shut-in. (There are some cheap phallic jokes in there, too.)

  9. LockeZ says:

    The period-appropriate term would be “eccentric”.

  10. ArkhamNative says:

    Tough one. Even “scientist” only appears around the 1830s, and possibly as a slur to those who treated themselves as professionals. “Boffin” is probably post-1920s. Off-hand, my suggestion would be tinkerer, as its meaning “to keep busy in a useless way” dates back to circa 1650s.

    • solpimr says:

      Depending on the source boffin first appears as early as the 1860’s or as late as 1945.I fist saw it Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series and I associate it with steampunk science and WW1.

      That said its still to late in the time line for this. “eccentric tinkerer” or just “tinkerer” or eccentric” is probably your best bet.

  11. mvandinter says:

    Wow… so many great replies! Thanks!

  12. Wyvern says:

    Funny you should ask that– the exact same question came up a while back in the Space 1889 Yahoo group. Anyhow, if I were you I’d go with “swot”: British slang meaning to study, or a person who spends a lot of time studying. According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, the first recorded use is 1850. (It also lists bookworm, geek and nerd as synonyms.)

  13. Ed8 says:

    Call him an eccentric tinkerer all you want – you are all just *jealous* that *you* don’t have your own 100ft tall earth-drilling machine parked in your front yard! You know you want one! (Yes, the size of your drilling machine does matter. You all have drilling-machine envy.)

  14. mvandinter says:

    Now I’m trying out all these these different suggestions in dialog: To find which one sounds best coming out of the mouth of a particular female character who isn’t too fond of the Mewling Quim in question 🙂

  15. Ed8 says:

    I’m not sure if that is the sort of thing a proper young lady of the time might use in conversation, no matter how she feels about him. Unless of course she’s just trying to get a “PG” rating for her webcomic.

  16. How about obsessive? Tinkerer? Recluse?

    Also, from your picture in the TWC voting, I now know that dinosaurs are about 2 and a half Napoleon Bonapartes tall. Awesome.

  17. davidbreslin101 says:

    I’ll second “swot,” especially “nasty little swot” if extra contempt is wanted. Kind of depressing that most of our insulting names for brainy people are from the mid-to-late 20th Century.

  18. ArkhamNative says:

    I wouldn’t sweat the details too much. The more authentic you make the dialog, the fewer people these days would understand it. 🙂 (I was curious and found an 1850s newspaper. Here’s a scanned column: http://goo.gl/MmjuKn )

    • mvandinter says:

      That’s good advice. I hope no one imagines that this comic is historically authentic, or accurate, or even checked for spelling errors 😉

    • LockeZ says:

      The article is prone to using complex sentences and long words, but otherwise not terribly hard to understand. It is akin to a modern formal paper in almost any field.

      I suspect the verbosity is not a fault of the era, but rather of the medium. Literacy was much lower at the time, so newspapers were written for more sophisticated minds, as those were the only ones capable of understanding them in the first place.

      I have written this comment in the approximate style of the article. An equivalent version in modern parliance follows:

      This article is wordy, but not that hard to understand. It’s similar to something you might submit today as a professional paper or an essay in school.

      The wordiness is probably only because it’s a newspaper article. Not everyone talked like that. But a lot of the working class couldn’t read, so newspapers wrote for a more sophisticated audience.

      I’ve written this comment in about the same style as the article. Translation:

  19. Noid. It’s like “nerd” but with a weird accent. Also, I’m being unhelpful on purpose.

  20. GenWaylaid says:

    I have to wonder if the concept of “nerd” really existed before the Industrial Revolution. The only clear example I can think of off-hand is Hamlet.

    If the connotation isn’t meant to be negative, perhaps one could use the phrase, “a right Herschel.” William Herschel would have been the most famous English scientist at the start of the nineteenth century, but to a modern ear the phrase sounds possibly perjorative.
    One of Philo’s constructions a couple pages after this reminded me of Herschel’s 40-foot telescope.

  21. Jean Corkill says:

    How about gormless ninny?

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