For instance, I am faced with such challenges as describing a seizure without actually using the word seizure. While it was in existence in some places, very few people would have known what it was unless they were a physician. I used it once to help the reader and from then on I have referred to it as a "spell" or a "fit" as that is what people would have called seizures back then. I am faced with the same issues with words such as coma, and unconscious.
Writing about history makes me marvel at the progression of our language. Simple word usage and phrases can sweep a reader away to another time in history. You don't even have to put a date on a Jane Austin book. The reader automatically knows the time period they are reading. They may not know the specific year, but they know the period and they know it's history. It is the same with a Renaissance book or a Medieval, or even a Biblical book.
When I write about history I need certain resources to help me. I don't necessarily know when certain words came into use, but I know if they were likely not in use and so do my readers. Therefore, I wanted to share one particular resource with you. "English Through the Ages" by William Brohaugh published through Writers' Digest. My version is copyrighted in 1998. This book has been a HUGE help to me. If you are writing history or just curious about how our language evolved, this book is a great resource.
Visit my website at www.authorjenniferhudsontaylor.com.