1. mootz
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    mootz Member

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    I need a quick bit of help.

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by mootz, May 14, 2012.

    I am looking for a racial slur for human beings in a fantasy setting.

    There are three races and humans are recognized as the inferior of the three. To give a hint, without detail, one species has an emphasis on strength and the other on magic. Humans are weak in both.

    So far, I've been kicking around the phrase 'inert-blood' but it doesnt have a strong ring to it. I need something that points out their relative weakness.
     
  2. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    We have an epithet for people like that here. We call them "townies."

    They work in town, they'll never leave it, and all they do is sit in saloons.

    They don't seem to have any "powers" or skills either. Find the milieu of your characters. Let's suppose they are so inept and poor they have to live in trees. If so, you could call your guys "branchers," or branchies.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Thinbloods
     
  4. mootz
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    mootz Member

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    That's around the idea of what I was thinking of. I'll kick that around with the rest that I can come up with.
     
  5. Lazy
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    Do all your "races" have the same evolutionary background (ie a common ancestor), or were your elves created by the gods like everybody else's?
     
  6. mootz
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    mootz Member

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    Same background. In fact, this is Earth thousands of years from now. If that helps. The regular humans havent evolved, but they havent died out.
     
  7. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Then call them the Darwins.
     
  8. mootz
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    mootz Member

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    Ironic, but I don't think that flies with my story. Thanks though.
     
  9. Lazy
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    Call them apes, monkeys, etc. That will give it a real racist connotation and make it much heavier for the reader than any made up term.

    edit: unless this is white supremacist allegory, in which case I would simply advise you not to write it at all
     
  10. GaleSkies
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    GaleSkies Active Member

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    When introducing new words and terms I take one approach from the get-go. Do I want something self explanatory, like thinblood, or visi-cube? Or am I looking for an opportunity to explain what the new term means during the course of the story? If it is something important, I find a more obscure name for the object or race of people, giving the audience a sense that they really are dealing with something foreign.

    Since it is just racism, and we have got that down to a T, it is no foreign concept to the readers. I'd use those as examples. You can describe appearance, "Negro". Dietary oddities/tendancies like, "Beaner" or "Rice Eater". Points of origin, "Oakies" or "Wetbacks".

    Find something you want to highlight in your story about the race of humans. This may sound bad, but I love the slurs that use food. Either what the race eats, or relating the race's appearance to a specific food by color or disproportional shapes. Since you've already got the aspect you want to highlight, use multiple slurs originating from each race. One to match lack of strength, one to match lack of magic. If its a nature born form of magic "deaf" or "deaf to the land" type thing. "Pebble Pushers" has a nice ring to it for strength. Though that depends on how far the human race has fallen.
     
  11. Lazy
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    Also, might I ask how this evolution came about? "Thousands of years" is not NEARLY long enough for speciation to occur, especailly in a species like humans where evolution is more or less stagnant. I mean... how different are we from humans 5,000 years ago? Damn near identical, actually. In western society we're taller because of better nutrition and fatter because of low risk lifestyle but genetically we are the same. Modern humans are like 100,000 years old.

    If you want an example of divergent evolution of humans in fiction check out The Time Machine. The MC goes to the year 802,701 A.D and finds that humanity has evolved into two different species, the Eloi and the Morlocks. EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND years in the future. That's believable. A few thousand is not.
     
  12. GaleSkies
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    In the Sci-Fi realm I see a lot of nuclear apocalypse puts humans back into the order of natural selection, and radiation increases the rate of radical mutations appearing. Most genes like that just fail, but its conceivable that one altered set of genes is stable enough to diverge and eventually propagate in a shorter span of time. Then again, we are talking fiction here. Realism has it's merits but speculation is more fun.
     
  13. Lazy
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    It's not about realism, it's about believability.
     
  14. GaleSkies
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    I misspoke. I loved the time machine, and have researched a lot about the evolution of social bodies mirroring the evolution of generations. I find it all fascinating.

    I forgot that since I quoted your post my comments were still directed at your post. You are totally right about believability for the audiences sake. I was mostly just making a prod at Moot to be imaginative because my previous post was so... logically driven. Realism wasn't quite the word I was looking for, and I certainly wasn't implying that accounting for believability was wrong.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Perhaps something like Phebes, which the reader soon (or eventually) understands is derived from "feebs". I'm not specifically saying that should be the term - I'm suggesting the thought process that arrives at a term.
     
  16. mootz
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    Great point. I already used food with the strength people, whom I've called 'shroom-eaters, but I could figure a way to use it again if it fits.

    I like the multiple slurs angle. It doesn't really make sense for each race to keep the same insults, I might have to change a few things.

    There was an event that changed people, an apocalypse in fact. Followed by a second mini scare of war(I'm not going to go into detail on how that affected people specifically.) Great point though about evolution.


    I believe what I have is believeable, I'll let my beta readers be my guide though.

    Considering I didn't know the words feebs before searching it, I wouldn't use that exact examble. But, the thought process is good. I could do something like that.
     
  17. Ettina
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    What do the other races look like? If they have a common physical features that differ from humans, you can use those for slurs. For example, if your strong race and magic race both have pointed ears, then a slur for humans could be 'round-ear'. Or if they have less acute sense of smell than the other races, they could be called something like 'smell-deaf' or maybe 'stinky' (since they may be less worried about smelling bad).
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    feebles/feebies/feebs
    scrawns [as in 'scrawny']
    creps [as in 'decrepit']
    frails
    punies

    ...and so on... times like this, your best friend is your thesaurus...
     
  19. Lazy
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    None of those have ANY impact whatsoever. They don't sound offensive, they sound comical. I mean at least "mudblood" can have some kind of impact with a reader because it's literally calling people dirt because of their ancestry. "Punies?" Nah.
     
  20. Cogito
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    Ethnic slurs aren't, as a rule, overtly insulting in and of themselves. The "impact", as you put it, comes from the treatment that goes long with the label. For example, the N word is simply derived from a word for "black", and yet its carries such a stain of hate that I generally refuse to use it at all.

    Some, in fact, seem completely meaningless without knowing the history. The Mexican slur for white Americans, "gringo", derives from the missionaries in southern California singing a popular hymn, Green Grow the Lilacs.

    A writer needs to maintain a fine balance. The meaning may be patently obvious, but it is sometimes better for a character unfamiliar with the term pick up on the connection at some point. Sometimes it can even be a clue to the origins of a conflict so old it'r reasons have been lost.

    In the Doctor Who story, The Face of Evil, A tribe called the Sevateem is at odds with an unseen enemy called the Tesh. Eventually, it is revealed that the Sevateem are the descendents of the original Survey Team of a crashed Earth vessel, and the Tesh are descended from the Techs who remained on board the wreck.

    But to both tribes, Sevateem and Tesh were simply words with no meaning other than "enemy" and "friend".

    Trust in the intelligence of the reader.
     
  21. mootz
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    Sort of like the movie District 9, where the aliens were referred to as prawns. It describes what they look like but links them to a near mindless low level creature, making it an insult.

    These are more good ideas people, thanks a ton!
     
  22. Silhouette
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    I actually think the real-world insult 'breeders' could be affective if you wanted to imply that the humans aren't really good for anything else.

    I don't know if you want to deal with explaining this, but something based on the fact that the human race is dying out (I assume we're meant to be on the decline) would be especially cruel. Calling someone a 'mori' (from 'memento mori') seems almost as cruel as making fun of an illness.
     
  23. CrimsonReaper
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    Don't go straight to physical attributes like diet and skin-tone. Think cultural posturing. When someone says "those people" are like that, what they are really saing is that THEY are not like that. So if your strong race honors individual ability over tactics (raiding and "honorable combat" as opposed to open warfare) then they might call those weak humans that come at them in infantry squares Swarmers or Hivers or Ants. For the magical race I would look into WHAT MAGIC IS and how it operates. Do humans use functional magic involving tools? Then they are Tinkerers or Artificers as opposed to the "natural" ability found in the blood of your totally not-elves species.
     
  24. koal4e
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    crimsonline or mudline (referral to bloodline) "those of the crimsonline" spits the strong type race man thing
    blood hounds
    blood dwellers
    mortal flesh
     
  25. chicagoliz
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    What about just "the inerts?"
     

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