What to Say: List of Alternate Wordings for Common Phrases
Date Written: August, 1986
Last Updated: Summer, 2016
Author: Eilis O'Boirne, with help from the Senior Staff

Policy Level: Informational
Intended Audience: All Heralds
Abstract: A list, in no particular order, of possible equivalents for common phrases, together with phrases to avoid.

These words are 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 possibly 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 your name on the list for...”, and other such phrases should be used.

Bathroom: Standard for 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 and 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.

Computer: The terms in common SCA use are golem and mechanical scribe. Avoid PC and brand names like IBM and Apple unless they are essential to the announcement.

Telephone: The standard term used is farspeaker, although telephone is perfectly acceptable..

Answering machine: You can say privy scribe, or simply request that people leave a message, without specifying the machine. A term sometimes used, but obscure is brazen head.

Coleman X: Use Coleman X -- but only to make a strong point. “His Majesty commands that all Coleman Stoves be removed from sight as soon as possible after their use.” Otherwise, just use X, without the brand name, or say mundane X.

Flashlight: Use light or lantern.

Costume: Use clothing, garb, 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, but you can try charioteer’s papers if you really need something.

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 adaptation of the older word thaler (pronounced tah-ler). So don’t worry about it!

Camera: Use portable illuminator. Soul-stealer and image-capturing device are heard, but are cute.

Flash photography: This is usually heard in an announcement at Court barring it. There are no good phrases we know of -- although we have toyed with the idea of banning the casting of spells of blindness. You can try the brief and succinct “No flashing!”

Tent: Use pavilion, even formundane 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 phrases 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.

Radio headsets: Tenfo has become an acceptable West Kingdom term for these. Avoid walky-talky and C.B.

Park rangers: Ranger is preferred, although the “cuter” King’s Forester is acceptable.

Small: (reference to Children) – the term “children” was perfectly period, and the term “small” sounds like you are referring to “small adults”, which children are certainly not.

Mundane police: Sheriffs, Town Constables or Mundane Constables would be OK. Avoid cops, CHP, and Chippies.

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 of the term real in this context.

Anno Societatis: Use Anno Societatis, “X year of the Kingdom of the West” or “X year of the Society”. Abbreviating to A.S. X works sometimes.

Mundane Year: Use the phrase “X year of the Common Era” or “X year Anno Domini”. Avoid abbreviating to “X A.D.”

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