1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I need an alternative to "cooties".

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by GingerCoffee, Apr 24, 2013.

    The setting is the future on another planet these people from Earth now live. This is a 10 yr old girl in a small village. She's 1-2 yrs younger than the clique of girls who tease her. She's not invited to a party all the other girls are invited to. An older boy is asking her why she isn't at the party.

    “Why aren’t you at Emgee’s party?” Mark asked.
    “I was unvited.”
    “Why? All the girls are there.”
    “I have cooties.” I decided I was proud to have them.
    “There’s no such thing as cooties.”
    “They’re invisible.”
    “You don’t have cooties, Brin.” ​

    Reactions to this exchange have been mixed.

    "Cooties" is something younger kids would say.
    "Cooties" is not something kids in the future would say.

    I tried an alternative, "grungies", and the complaint was, "What does that mean?"

    "They don't like me" is too direct. I need something Brin can choose to embrace instead of something that engenders pity.

    A Google search was not productive. My son is 24. I don't know what insults 10-12 yr old girls might be calling each other. Perhaps some of you do?

    Thanks,
    Ginger
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Your setting is the future on another planet. Twelve-year-old girls won't be using the same slang and insults you used when you were that age. I think you have to make something up, and you have to introduce it earlier in the story so readers will know what it means. You might try the trick Anthony Burgess used in A Clockwork Orange and borrow words from another language. What's Dutch (for example) for cooties? Or Japanese, or Greek? Do you have any bilingual friends you could ask?
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I'll give Babelfish a try. Thanks.

    Google and Bing translate give "cooties" regardless of language. I need a native speaker since it's a colloquialism.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I found something by following your suggested trail. 'Kutu' is the Polynesian word 'cooties' is thought to have originated from.

    Another source suggested, 'AIDS' might be the modern replacement for 'cooties'.
     
  5. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    A quick Google search provided these results:
    when adults use the word cooties, it usually means STD's in general and not just AIDS or chlamydia or so.
    The Portuguese word for cooties is "piolhos" or "piolos".
    The Turkish word is "hastasin".
    The Gaul word is "piolos".
    The Estonian word is "teids".
    In Swedish it is "löss".
    In Slovenian "baciles".

    I could probably try to give you examples in Greek, Japanese, German or Spanish since i speak them, but to my knowledge there is not a single word used for this meaning in any of those languages.
     
  6. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    'I've got The Itch!'

    Make it special as a proper noun, and it seems to sum up all sorts of related ailments of that genre. :eek:
     
  7. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    The Itch suggests a fictional condition one would invent for himself, not for others. Like those suspicious headaches women have from time to time. One couldn't know if the other has an itch or not.
     
  8. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I remember as kids we called them Lurgees (with a hard G) - "Ha ha Jonny's got the lur-gees" I have no idea of it's origin, probably something cruel knowing kids but it wasn't a good thing to have however invented the word is.

    I think having the "itch" would mean having crabs - to me anyway.

    And after some very quick research I found the origins which are quite funny and now make perfect sense - http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/lurgy
     
  9. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I didn't know this. I know this: Löss

    I think the best suggestion was to come up with some word that sounds like bacteria that you introduce earlier in the story. If it's a foreign word, you'd still have to explain it. Another option is: if it's a planet in the future, do they really speak English? Then you could use cooties, 'cause in any case they'd be speaking in some other language than English.
     
  10. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    In Romanian or Bulgarian or something, the word is Bacilli (plural of Bacilus i guess). That sounds like bacteria.
     
  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Thanks for all the help. I have a good idea what to do now. I'm going to use an invented slang word derived from a more modern disease that readers will recognize.

    Answering some side notes, the setting in the near future so, yes, they still speak English. This is in the opening chapter so there's no opportunity or need to introduce the term earlier.

    Those are some interesting translations, Xatron. The word "löss" (or loess) translates into "lice soils" according to KaTrian's Wiki link. I think that's one of those "lost in translation" things. ;)


    :D
     
  12. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    earth pox
     
    1 person likes this.
  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I like that. I might It works, I'm going to use it. :D
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Cooties are slang for lice, and thus the stigma that remains with the word even though the meaning is all but lost. An annoying but non-dangerous parasite native to the environment might be a good starting point.
     
  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Thanks for your input. The point wasn't about lice, it was about kids teasing and bullying other kids with an imaginary insult.

    Before cooties it was leprosy. But if you had kids today calling another kid a 'leper' you can see how that would be too out of date for a present day story. The thing about reader's reactions to my insult about having body lice was that the insult was so far out of date that it didn't fit in my future world setting. I was looking for what the current name calling might be for a 12 yr old to insult a 10 yr old with. "Earth pox" fits the bill perfectly. :)
     
  16. zShkodra
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    zShkodra New Member

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    I know this may be a little late, since it's been four weeks and you probably already moved on with your story. I just turned 13, and I have a 11 year old sister. I know her and her friends very well.

    Nowadays you probably wouldn't hear the insult "earth pox" as it still seems a bit childish, even for that age. If I think about it, kids that age (and my age) call each other things like "idiots", dumb***, or in extreme cases even b****s. Then again, it all depends how you say it and how you mean it. If a close friend does something unmistakingly dumb, I might jokingly say "you idiot, of course you shouldn't throw your iPad!" I guess it all depends on the situation, tone/feeling, and character relationship.
     
  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Thanks, I appreciate the age insight. I did go with earthpox. But there are other scenes where the other girls pick on this one. What do the girls you know say about the girls they think are uncool? How would they describe another girl not in the incrowd?
     
  18. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    What Ginger was looking for was not a word meant to insult the other girl but a word meant to degrade her, to identify her as a lesser person than the rest.
     
  19. Haliburton
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    Haliburton and "cooties"

    Hi- The original item that got to be called "cooties" was head lice in reality. This word was adopted because it was a softer way of describing this situation. In Canada, aboriginal children were being forced to start going to "white" schools and they often had head lice. It is something that is easily repaired but of course, among the other children it was something really awful just because they didn't have it themselves. The word "cooties" stuck and while head lice is almost unheard of now, in polite terms they would still probably be referred to as "cooties" I hope that this enlightens and helps you. I don't think there is another word that would say the same thing.
    Haliburton
     
  20. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    You must not have an kids in school. Head lice are far from unheard of. :p

    BTW, do you know how they spread in school age kids? Most people think the kids are rubbing heads together. That's true in preschool and maybe the in 5 and 6 yr olds. But in older kids, the culprit is often the coat rack. And adult louse is on the infested kid's coat and s/he hangs it on the rack. The coat cools off but the next kid's coat is warm, attracting the louse. So the bug plays musical coats and finds the head of the last coat that was warm.
     
  21. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    What about the word Germs.
     
  22. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    :confused: You mean like, "you have Germs"? Everyone has germs.
     
  23. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    A good 90% of the cells within any human body are bacteria. This is by number, not by mass. Bacterial cells are much, much smaller in size than human cells.
     
  24. Ellsbeth
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    Ellsbeth Member

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    Kissings ?

    Kissing is something teenagers do so its a little more grown up then cooties but still in the stage where 11 year olds are trying to avoid it and its probably just me but I think of a disease when I think about this,.. actually I think there is a disease pronounced close to that,...
    Im one of those lucky people who gets coldsores around my lips from exposure to the elements and stress. Without fail every time I get one someone tells me ive got herpes.... :( merr
    late post but better late then never.
     
  25. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    They have anti-virals for that, you know. ;)
     

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