Monastic sign language has been used in Europe from at least the tenth century by monks of the Benedictine Order because “silence is a virtue.” // // It was a method using a hand lexicon to name certain commonplace things without speaking aloud. It is not a language, per sé, like ASL, though very useful. This article was inspired by Debby Banham’s The Anglo-Saxon Monastic Sign Language.
When you would like cheese, set your two hands flat together, as if pressing.
For Kael Ball whose comment on farb an acronyms caused me to finish this post!
Some of these terms you might be familiar with. Others unfamiliar. As Lynn Bloom says, “Everyone new to a group…has to learn its code, in language and in behavior, as part of the initiation process. This is how we enter and become part of a discourse community.” Here are a few terms that that you will encounter in reenactments:
Authenticity (or Accuracy) Officer, who is given the power to decide on the historical accuracy of an item.
Mock combat with foam weapons.
Anything inaccurate, first seen in American Civil War reenacting in the 1960s. Origins are uncertain, but it may come from the phrase, “Far Be It for Me to Criticize, But…”
An impassions where you pretend to be from another time and behave in that manner, so that you do not know anything that happened after the date of your impression.
Frog and Feathers
French and Indian.
Anything not period accurate. The word originated as the name of a British orange drink in the 1950s, and it was later popularized as street slang. One theory is that its use in reenacting described someone who dresses as though they came from a jumble (yard) sale.
The possessions of a reenactor that might have been owned by his impression. A kit may be dictated by military regulations or merely be objects that a person of a particular time might have owned. Battle kit is a term often used to describe a fighter’s uniform, armor and arms.
Member of the Public; a spectator.
i) An abstract term referring to historically authentic dress, mannerisms, etc.; ii) being in the style of an historical period.
A reenactor who stays in a hotel instead of camping.
Modern invention that is accepted and promoted as accurate to the period though if it is not.
Creating an artifact without doing research and then trying to find documentation that will justify it.
i) The real or imaginary line between which everything should be historically accurate.
Public Hours; ii) the times when the historical accuracy behind the Ropeline must be adhered.
An impression where you present yourself as a person from another time, but you can break impression to comment on things that happened after the date of your impression. Also knownas a ghost impression.
Accurate, coming from the term “authentic.”
An impression where you present yourself as a person of the present and, therefore, know things after the date of your impression.
Three-Foot (or Three-Foot etc.) Rule
Something seems accurate at three feet, or any designated distance.
A selection of acronyms not necessarily restricted to a single era! Feel free to contribution new an d additional acronyms!
Acronyms are everywhere nowadays, and many acronyms have vastly varying meanings. These are not necessarily universally used reenactors. But probably should be!
American Civil War
American War of Independence
Can’t Really Actually Provenance
Early Middle Ages. From the discredited term “Dark Ages”
English Civil War
Living History Exhibit
Master at Arms or Middle Ages
Member of the Public (a MoPpet is a young Member of the Public)
Military Training Officer
Seriously Hideous Inauthentic Trash
Thick As Pig Shit
Viking Age or Albert and Victoria Museum
Viking Middle Ages
Having access to or possessing certain items is essential. Having a loom, a desk or a work table is certainly essential. However, even more essential are those minor tools that can be easily transported and used. The fabled Mästermyr tool chest is an example of a traveling artisan who certainly had to borrow—or construct—a place where these tools can be used.
The following are essential, to be certain and should work for most basic activities, but they are just a start! All these tools were chosen because they were so often seen that they were ubiquitous and small enough to be easily held and transported.
For a more complete list of what tools might be owned, consult the list in “The Discriminating Reeve” to choose what might be of use.
Pot (metal or Stone; a tripod or trivet is also recommended, though a temporary surface of some sort can be made with stones)
Cutting tool (Sharp Knife or Shears)
Shears, Scissors or Snips
Spindle Whorl and Stick
Hammer (a Mall type, not a specialist hammer)
Tongs (also known as Pliers)
Wedge (metal or wood)
I have recounted above the basic tools needed for those activities with which I am accustomed. If there is an activity with which you are familiar that is not mentioned here (or a tool for one of these activities you find essential but mentioned here), please let me know!