Creating an Original Expletive

Discussion in 'World Building' started by CMSikora, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. CMSikora

    CMSikora Acolyte


    My main character is originally from the Underworld. It's a YA book, so I try to keep to the mild curses and most of the time he just says 'damn'. But I can't tell you how often I get a critique that says, "You should create a new kind of expletive for him. I wonder what kind of curse a guy from the Underworld would use."

    But the thing is, I have no clue what expletives he would use either. The Underworld he lives in is much like Dante's Divine Comedy, just to give you a thought. Hell is more commonly called "The Pit" by him, and The Pit is a swirling vortex in the middle of the River Phlegathon, also known as the river of fire and blood.

    Most of the creatures in the Divine Comedy are also in this book too, but they don't play a big role. I have the world down, but I really have no clue what they might say as an expletive. How do I go about this?

    (One thing you need to understand though is that he's from the Underworld. That doesn't mean he's from Hell. He can see Hell from his bedroom, but he can also see Heaven too. I get that misconception a lot...)
  2. gerald.parson

    gerald.parson Lore Master

    frak is becoming popular as it is allowed on cable tv.
  3. Kelise

    Kelise Scribal Lord

    Frak is from Battlestar Galactica.

    Just think of sounds that sound rough, that aren't being used yet - like thraxxing. Or, like Battlestar, change a few letters of a swear we actually use. Jit instead of Git (not that it's a swear, but anyhow).

    Some shows show the progression of language, like Firefly uses 'Gorram' for 'god damn'.
  4. Ravana

    Ravana Istari

    –Any other detail associated with the Underworld, punishment, undesirable outcomes, etc. Of which he should have abundant examples, all things considered.

    For that matter, beings from the Underworld might use "Angels!" as a swear word… or anything else associated with Heaven.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  5. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Dark Lord

    I read a comic recently where God was fond of saying "me-damnit". haha. Not helpful I know ;)

    Basically you need to figure out "the undesirable" for this man. You could I suppose do some research on the etymology of some modern swears too, that wouldn't do any harm.
  6. San Cidolfus

    San Cidolfus Mystagogue

    I'd think dudes from Hell wouldn't swear by it. We say damn and hell because it's a measure of extreme; sure, they've been diluted from overuse and don't carry the same weight, but once upon a time being damned carried a heavy stigma, and it wasn't a word to fling around. Consider the perspective of your dude being from Hell; he'd use the sort of curses begat by these demons and spawn generations ago. What would they consider to be a curse?

    Hell might be the lowest of the low, the Pit, and all, but there's a hierarchy in Hell, especially if you're going by Dante. Consider the basest form of sinner, or devil minion. Make you own name for the boot-lickers and those poor imp-sods that run around shoveling all the intestines of the eviscerated. No one in Hell would want to be called one of those peons that limps around like Quasimodo with a gut squeegee. Think of that, then shorten it to something monosyllabic and ugly, and there you go. Instant Hell-based curse.
  7. Arcturus

    Arcturus Journeyman

    I don't know if people from hell would use this, but I recently wrote "by God's unshaven armpit."
  8. San Cidolfus

    San Cidolfus Mystagogue

    Presumably the majesty of God's unshaven armpit would be blinding indeed.
  9. Drakhov

    Drakhov Master

    If you want something short and pithy, how about Phleg (based on the name of the river), Fire and Blood! as an alternative, and [May the] Pit take you!, To the Pit with this, Pit take you / it / them! etc?
  10. Ciara Ballintyne

    Ciara Ballintyne Acolyte

    If you want to really make up a NEW expletive you need to think about what's sacred and what's reviled in your world. In our world we swear by reference to what's sacred (god, jesus, etc.) and by what's reviled (shit etc.). So you either debase something or you compare someone to something vile.

    You can actually sometimes find courses on this. I did a worldbuilding workshop on profanity and slang.
  11. Codey Amprim

    Codey Amprim Staff Article Team

    Aside from manipulating modern words and terms, try to conjure up your own that feels like an expletive - harsh, quick to say in anger, and an overall nasty ring to it. Or you could try to variations of every curse and the tasteful, creative combinations of ones we already know and love. :)
  12. SeverinR

    SeverinR Valar Lord

    I have a dragon cursing in one book. It was a single word, and didn't have to be based on english.

    Orc-spawn is a common one for an elf.

    Most curse words relate to:
    excrimate, body functions, fornication, the nasty stuff in the enviroment, linking the cursed individual to a lower/lowest class person or action.
  13. Klee Shay

    Klee Shay Lore Master

    Is there someting/someone your MC loves more than anything else? If there is, and something or someone else tried to take it from him/her, then he/she/it would be reviled by the MC who would curse this thing. Whatever is trying to take MC's beloved whatsit would not only be cursed by MC, but possibly become the curse to be flung at anything/anyone that/who angers MC.

    I hope I've made myself perfectly clear. ;)
  14. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Shadow Lord

    try making swear phrases? Like how we say "Son of a b." Like in this book I'm reading called Malus Darkblade, he is a dark elf. They worship a God called Khaine which is the God of Murder and they also believe in something they call The Void or the Outter Darkness ruled by their evil godess called the Night Mother (I know sounds like Elder Scrolls)

    But if something bad happens he will often say, "Mother of Night!" or if he wanted to insult someone, "Outter Darkness take you!"

    If your character comes from a place like something from the Divine Comedy, try making it sound like it WAS from it. Dante used a lot of Greek in his works so make something greek-ish. Like in a viking novel I read, the main character always swore with a made up word that I think was "Skjar!"

    What I did is I went to a language translator site and went through whatever language my character would most likely speak and type in some words and see what the translation is. Then I would mix up some letters and presto!
  15. Reaver

    Reaver Staff Moderator

    In my WIP, calling an elf a "sack of wine" is the worst insult imaginable.
  16. Queshire

    Queshire Dark Lord

    What's the hell of hell? Do the Gods have gods? What's the worse punishment for a potntially immortal spirit? Or you could general, but different curses. One potential but different curse I like is Rot, like "Go Rot" or such.

    I agree though, that the best curses derive from what a particular society reviles and holds sacred, though it depends ON the culture primarily. One that comes to mind is the Japanese Gaijin, which means foreigner, I'm not sure if it counts as a curse, but it certainly has negative connotations.
  17. The Din

    The Din Lore Master

    Just throw in a few c**ts and motherf**kers, I say. I know you said YA, but what sort of kid hasn't heard these words a thousand times in the school yard?

    When I was younger, one of my favorite things about reading was the lack of classification. Not allowed to watch an R rated film? Easy, just pick up a book and read about a girl's first time taking it in the back door (yes, this was a YA book), or a runaways discovery of heroine and eventual prostitution. You never know what juicy details you'll stumble across.

    Sorry this doesn't really answer your question. All I can suggest is combining a few lesser evils, ie. pig lover, limp stick, sodem hole...
  18. Graham Irwin

    Graham Irwin Mystagogue

    I just stick to sh*t and crap.

    Also, I always have to go back and edit out "hell" and "damn", because I use those without thinking. But there's no hell in my world. Also have to watch for using "heavens" as a synonym for sky. No heaven either!

    What a funny topic!
  19. Graham Irwin

    Graham Irwin Mystagogue

    This is one of the more disturbing things I've ever read on Mythic Scribes!
  20. Walrusdragon

    Walrusdragon Acolyte

    Not that this would work at all, but I have always been a fan of "Holy frijoles!" Say the frijoles without correct Spanish accent.

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