<2013 ‘“Don’t you ever bad-mouth our family again!’ replied Philipp Lettner, the oldest brother.”—The Beggar King (2010, 2013) by Oliver Pötzsch and translated from German by Lee Chadeayne, page 5>
The above quote is taken from a historical novel. The year is 1637 and the place is Germany during the Thirty Years’ War.
I know we have to cut the author some slack – it would be hard to write a novel using only expression current in the 17th century. But the use of the anachronism bad-mouth
strikes me as grounds for having the author’s artistic license revoked.
BADMOUTH / BAD MOUTH / BAD-MOUTH transitive verb
[1941 and still in use]: To abuse or deprecate verbally; to criticize, slander, or gossip maliciously about (a person or thing); criticize or disparage, often spitefully or unfairly; slander; malign. <Why do you constantly disparage your colleagues?
Probably ultimately from noun phrase bad mouth (1835), in Black English, ‘a curse, spell,’ translating an idiom found in African and West Indian languages.]
(Oxford English Dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary, Online Etymology Dictionary
Hmm! 1941. O.K. So he was off by 300 years – a mere blink of an eye in recorded history. (<:)
The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary
and archived sources:
<1941 “He bad-mouthed everybody.”—James Thurber in Saturday Evening Post, 5 April, page 9/2>
<1960 “What . . . reason would he have to bad-mouth Jamison?”—Slam Big Door (1961) by D. MacDonald, vi. page 96>
<1977 “They threw matches, they badmouthed linesmen, they hit balls into the stands.”—Times Literary Supplement, 1 July, page 792/1>
<1994 “Finally! A way to catch and document employees who bad-mouth you behind your back.”—Harper’s Magazine, aigist, page 19/1>
<2002 “Ravinder told me that black students, particularly males, would bad-mouth him and act aggressively when they saw him around the building.”—Snakeskin by C. Newland, vi. page 62>
<2013 “. . . “you will be happy that the U.S. government didn't bad-mouth the country that agreed to send you home.”—Washington post, 1 April>
Ken – April 6, 2013