Language is tricky business. Never mind the hundreds of languages and “official” dialects, every country, region, city, neighborhood, household, and person has their own little twists on language. Possibly even more than physical location, time period affects language. Look at the way rabid Mad Men fans/critics go over every turn of phrase!

All of this is important if you’re writing steampunk. It is all well and good to set your story in the 19th century, but if your characters inhabit that world they need to be able to talk the talk. A good way to learn the language is, of course, to read the literature of the time. Dickens, Cooper, Poe, and Twain can be quite instructive. But sometimes you need some more specific terms than you can’t find that way short of exhaustive searching. As with so many problems, it is the Internet to the rescue. Here are a few links to get you started:

Of course, these only cover English and they include both American and British English. Certainly every language has evolved and changed over the last 150 years and your characters need to speak for their time, not ours.

Please drop a comment here if you have other good resources on this front, especially for other languages.