Recently, I saw a movie that was set in the 60's, and a couple of things grated on me.
One was that a character said to another, "T'sup?" Nope. That's a recent locution. You wouldn't have heard it in Harlem, Haight-Ashbury, or Kansas City.
The other telling, and wrong, detail was the way in which a character pronounced, "cool." Oh, we said "cool," back then, but it was pronounced very differently from how it is said now. Then, it was just a straightforward, "cool," in the way you'd say, "We have cool weather." Cool car. Cool girl. Cool party. But there was no special inflection, there were no extra syllables, just. . .cool. It wasn't used as a single word either, but only in a complete sentence. "He's so cool!" "What a cool car!" I think its meaning was a little different then, too. It was all about popularity and/or attitude, not so much about voicing approval or agreement. ("Want to go get drunk and throw up?" "Sure. Cool.") The preppy (also not used then) quarterback of your high school team might be cool, but so was James Dean. (They were also "dreamy.") But nothing was "coo-uhl," or all the other inventive ways the word is pronounced now. It's cool the way it's used now. I like it. But it's different from how it was used back in the day (which is also a phrase you would never have heard in the 60's). There was no such thing as the word "uncool," either. Neither was there a "chill," except in the air, or a chill-out.
It's tough to get every detail right when you're doing a period piece, whether in a novel or a film. I don't like to watch Vietnam era movies anymore because we're far enough away from it that the portrayals tend to be just off, or way off. Simply playing "White Rabbit," wearing tie-dye, and saying groovy a lot doesn't do it. (There were several different ways to say groovy, btw, much as there are for "cool" now.) It's the same with the Fifties. Sometimes I can barely recognize the time they think they're depicting. Makes you wonder about movies about the French Revolution, doesn't it?
You probably think I'm leading up to some point with this, don't you? Ha! I guess my only point is a plea. . .if you're writing about a time when you weren't here, and there are still people around who were, check it out with them. They can tell a cool from a coo-ul, and a what's happenin' from a T'sup? and a Brother from a bro. Some of you may remember that when I was writing Virgin I asked on the Booman Tribune blog if anybody remembered if boys called girls "hot chicks" back in the eighties. Thanks to your input, I decided to say it another way. Things like that can make a difference in leading the reader to trust everything else you tell them.
And thass a fact (which was also not said back then in the same way that it's used now).