1. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    Tips on creating profanity for a fictional language?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by rktho, Apr 16, 2017.

    @Pharthan's thread reminded me I need help with curses myself. But he's dealing with a future version of English and I'm dealing with Dragonese, Dragonian, and Shkatardik, all languages I invented, so my issue is slightly different.

    I'm not going to have f--k and s--t and such in my book to keep it clean, so don't ask. I'm Mormon and I'm not going to use real swear words in my book. (I'm not Orson Scott Card, and I'm not writing for an exclusively adult audience.)

    Now, onto the languages. We'll start with Shkatardik, which has a swear word for everything. Want to call someone a no good, dirty rotten Khrizan? Just use the Shkatardik word for Khrizan, which is a slur. You don't have to waste time with modifiers and adjectives (unless you want to.) Don't want to attach the word a** to everything for emphasis (big-a**, slow-a**, dumba**, etc) just use the Shkatardik word. Just whatever you do, don't say "I love you". It's incredibly lewd and you could get your cloaca slashed. Anyway, Shkatardik is meant to be sprinkled into one's native speech but you could use complete sentences in it if you wanted to. Fun bit of trivia: Shkatardik's inventors, the Vrakardians, were sailors.
    The only word I've come up with is shilt, which means to scrape. (I've got to shilt all these barnacles off my ship now.)

    Then there's Dragonian, the Vrakardians' everyday language. Here's a sample of some non-swears to get a feel for the language's flavor:
    barstul (which means chair, and yes, they are heavy drinkers, why do you ask?)
    Quaru (their god)
    arundit ba (hurry up)
    dasfaru (an acceptance of apology)
    bardu (a boat)
    Mudglubar (a famous warrior who aided Khriza in a war)
    Acbaradus (another warrior who aided Khriza)
    Balur (see above)
    vashtu (a ghost)
    dopsa (oops)
    bortu (a big ship)
    dalu (the sea)
    Jarud (a city on the mother isle)
    Dalkras (the mother isle)
    Kaldred (a member of the clan of Kaldras, a Vrakardian territory)
    Droka (a name)
    Truba (a Dalkred chief)
    Figo (a Kaldred chief)
    Ragul (Figo's brother and successor)
    Amaluron (Rahul's successor)
    Luhorn (a captain)
    phoblar (catapult)

    I have two swears-- balchu, meaning swill, garbage, leakage or bad drink-- and barschut, which is like d*mmit, but they have a separate word for damnation and it's just used as a general exclamation of frustration. (There's a character in the book named Javak who's so clumsy they call him Barschut Javak because nearly every time they address him, it's to immediately exclaim "Barschut, Javak!" when he screws up.

    And finally, Dragonese, modern language of the Khrizans, my protagonist species. I generally don't use it regularly except for names. (For a sample of these, see https://www.writingforums.org/threads/my-characters-listed-by-importance.151676/.) I do use a few words without translating them, such as:
    Rishnaran (Writer)
    Irvanira (Inspiration)
    rakatar (an instrument)
    takshar (see above)
    kran (see above)
    ingzai (small gold coins)
    katai (small silver coins)
    nak (a small copper coin)
    khavraz (a type of weapon)

    I also have euphemistic expletives-- the hecks and farms of the Dragonese language, including:
    dakking
    shkak
    skarg
    argshak

    and one swear word-- shnat, which is a mass noun used contemptuously to refer to something, or used as an exclamation. One could argue it translates to "s--t" but it doesn't carry the association with dung. (Shrakt does, but it isn't a curse.)
    A note that Dragonese only contains the letters a, sh, d, e, f, g, h, i, k, n, r, s, t, v, and z.

    With all that explained, can anyone help beef up my characters cursing vocabulary?
     
  2. TyrannusRex

    TyrannusRex Active Member

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    Sometimes, it's not always words that can bolster a language's profanity, sometimes phrases work just as well.
    Off the top of my head, telling someone to jump into the sea, sleep with a shark (or the fishes), and saying they (or their mother) looks like a barnacle could all serve as insulting taboo, even though in our language, they aren't actually curses.
    (You can never go wrong with insulting someone's mother. ):supergrin:
     
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  3. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    I'm not sure I need help generating such phrases. How do these sound?
    double-dealing fatgut
    drunken pirate (an insult directed at a Vrakardian)
    horsehead goathorns (an insult directed at a Khrizan)
    gol tzong (a racist term for a Dragan, mocking their language; in that vein, baru could be an insult to Vrakardians)
    egg spout (someone who sleeps around or has a lot of kids)
    stickyface (a dragon addicted to erotichor, a legal but shameful hallucinogen)
    cloaca licker
    stubtail
     
  4. TyrannusRex

    TyrannusRex Active Member

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    Clever, if a little roundabout.
    If there is a slang term referring to the cloaca, that could prove useful.
    Vent could work.
     
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  5. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    Oh yeah, I remembered I do need a slang term for cloaca. Maybe pouch, since it holds all their... urological components... or slit. I think I might go with slit.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2017
  6. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Possibly you're not aware, but at least in some dialects "slit" is a pretty coarse term for female (human) genitalia... might not fit in with your "I'm a Mormon" vibe?
     
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  7. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    Ah. Okay. Something else then.
     
  8. TyrannusRex

    TyrannusRex Active Member

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    I mean, vent is a biological term referring to the entrance of the cloaca (which is a cavity), and while not being profane it sounds coarse enough to the ear that it could be used in a curse.
     
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  9. Pharthan

    Pharthan Active Member

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    You could, perhaps, make inflection the swear-word instead of the word itself. Like, there might be a certain tone of voice that is itself more offensive than the word itself.

    We kind of see this in English. The word itself might not be offensive, but things can certainly still be made offensive through the way they are said. I'm basically just suggesting going the extra mile; don't have swear-words, exactly, but have a tone that is considered to be vulgar. It adds an interesting element and cuts out a lot of work!
     
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  10. TyrannusRex

    TyrannusRex Active Member

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    Yeah!
    Like, just to throw out a really zany example, just using the word (let's say): "Dinkleberg", might not be offensive, but if you're fired up and angry about it (DINKLEBERG!!!!), that would be a clear indicator that you're trying to swear.
    Context would also have a lot to do with it. "Prick" is a verb that can mean to punch a tiny hole in something, but it can also be a name directed at an unpleasant person.
    Same with a**, b**ch, and b***ard.
     
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  11. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    Just wanted to point out two things:
    - horsehead goathorns doesn't roll off the tongue, so maybe just stick with one of them? One thing I've noticed about profanity is that it's always catchy and easy to say.

    - fatgut sounds very similar to the word faggot, which in my father's day was used as:
    noun, Slang.
    1. Extremely Disparaging and Offensive. a contemptuous term used to refer to a male homosexual.
    (definition taken from dictionary.com)

    I'm not saying the word needs to be changed, but I wanted you to know in case you decide it needs changing.
     
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  12. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    These wouldn't be swears, just insults.
     
  13. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    Heh, my bad. You might still want to make the first one catchy, though. In my experience insults tend to roll off the tongue, too.
    "You horse-headed goat!" Is a lot catchier than, "You horsehead goathorn!"
     
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  14. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    True.
     
  15. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Ok, so here's
    2p.png

    If you don't want to go with real world English 4-letter words (perfectly understandable), I would go with ones that are more like the ones in the quote above. Phrases that are still understandable in English to the reader and relatable to why they would be insulting to the characters without us having to learn a whole new language. The point of curses and slurs is that they are intended to pluck a certain emotional string in us when we hear or read them. When you use completely made up words, they're "empty files" that have no emotional connection in the reader; thus, they have no impact that is real. Ones similar in form and construction to what I quoted from you above are at least relatable and can be contextualized within the bounds of your story without making me (sin of sins) refer to a glossary mid-read.
     
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  16. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I don't feel tardy.... Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I vote for stickyface and cloaca-licker. No explanations needed there.

    ETA: If you don't write, "How's my cloaca taste, stickyface?" at least once I'm going to be very disappointed @rktho!
     
  17. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It needs to be the opening line of the book, I say. ;)
     
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  18. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I don't feel tardy.... Staff Supporter Contributor

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    New flash fiction prompt: "How's my cloaca taste?" I'm picturing a couple of copulating birds in a love nest. One is talking dirty to the other and :supertongue::supertongue::supertongue:
     
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  19. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    Well, now you ruined it and now I'm never going to even think about those words together ever again. Oh my gosh, I'm going to throw up.
     
  20. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    What the heck is wrong with you people? Just because for the sake of worldbuilding, I need to know how my dragons do stuff, does NOT mean there will be anything of the kind featured in it!

    Also, stickyface refers to the ichor being poured in one's eyes. You're supposed to take it in eyedrop form, but if you're addicted, you need more of it, so desperate dragons looking to get the same high will just pour it right in.
     
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  21. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I don't feel tardy.... Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Not sure. Too much whiskey maybe? Or imagination? Can't speak for @Wreybies, but I think my mother dropped me on my head a few too many times. Or maybe it was all that lead pain they warned us about.
     
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  22. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    Your avatar should be Barney.
     
  23. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I don't feel tardy.... Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I was thinking Krusty next, but Barney is definitely a possibility.
     
  24. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Dude, I write M/M spec-fic erotica. Very few things are off the table. ;)
     
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  25. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    Well, they are here.
     

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