From the Department of Life’s Lonely at the Top comes news out of the Downton Abbey 2 camp that the second series is coming under fire not only from avid viewer critics but also the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary himself. Mirroring the uproar caused by brief visual glimpses of an extraneous television aerial and double yellow lines on the street during the first series of DA, critics have now turned their attention to the, supposedly, numerous language gaffes occurring during series 2, which is currently being transmitted in the UK and set for a January 8, 2012 broadcast premiere in the States on PBS’ Masterpiece series.
Some of the early examples that have set those that practice The King’s English on their ear seem to center around the usage of phrases and expressions that originated in the 60’s in a series that takes place in the 1920’s during World War I. Phrases such as, get knotted, shafted, logic pills and everything in the garden is rosy have drawn most of the ire to this point.
John Simpson, chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, said : ‘The phrase “get knotted” is quite modern slang. The OED records it from 1963. I did think, when I heard it, that ‘get shafted’ felt quite wrong in a way that some other anachronisms didn’t.” Simpson did go on to say that critics need to bear in mind that the program is light entertainment and isn’t necessarily supposed to be an authentic picture of life in the early Twentieth Century.
A spokesman for Downton Abbey’s production company, Carnival Films, spoke to the drama’s creator, Oscar-winning scriptwriter Julian Fellowes, who acknowledged the possibility of there being an issue with “shafted” as it, most likely, wasn’t a phrase used back in the 1920’s. The others, however, either have traceable roots dating back to the 19th century or reflect in Fellowes’ mind what the characters might have said during the 20’s.
All to say, at the end of the day, life is lonely at the top. Never seen shots fired at a series that has no audience. Personally, I’d opt for the mega-audience and the potential ensuing potshots.