says fuck because I am overjoyed
says fuck because I am losing my shit
says fuck because life messed up
says fuck because you gave me a surprise present
says fuck because I dropped a glass of water
says fuck because I aced the exam
says fuck because you made my favourite dinner
says fuck because I had a breakdown
says fuck because I just realized I use fuck on every occasion
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Naughty words in a godless world
Imagine you're writing a story that takes place in a world that has no God, or gods, or saints. What do you do with exclamations like "Oh gosh!" (derived from "Oh God") or "Jeez!" (derived from "Jesus!")? And - oh god - what do you do with curses and swear words? If your characters can't say "Oh my god", "hell no", or "damn" because there are no gods to damn anyone to hell... what are your options?
Here is a list for inspiration
In general, non-religious curse and swear words refer to local cultural taboos.
Many languages swear by referring to cleanliness: dirty, sweaty, sticky, smelly etc. This includes things you do on the toilet.
Some languages, like Dutch, use diseases as curses and insults. For example, someone nasty/bothersome might be called a "cancer sufferer" in Dutch. These swear words are combinations of (derivates of) typhus, cholera, and cancer.
Societal hierarchy and family trees, mainly the inferior positions like a bastard (seen as inferior in the family tree) or a derogatory word that refers to lower class people (seen as inferior in that society).
On the other hand, you could insult a highly valued member of the other person's family, like their mother, or of their society, like their Queen/Emperor.
Sexual taboos, often implying someone (or their mother) is more sexually active than society accepts of them.
Calling someone the word for someone's genitalia refers to the same taboo.
How do you apply this to your language?
You could use explicit/taboo words as ... :
... an intensifier: "It was a shit-hot day."
... a negative adjective: "This is a shitty job."
... an insulting noun: "This journey is shit."
Or try to be creative and combine different taboos for a multi-hit offense. My favorite one is the Spanish "I shit in your mother's milk", which combines insulting the other person's mother, the taboo of bodily functions, and the taboo of cleanliness.
During my research I came across this article, which contains a number of concrete examples from all over the world you can draw inspiration from.
And on a less offensive note, you could always make up your own equivalent of "Merlin's beard!", "Great Scott!", or "For Pete's sake!" (Pete, by the way, is a catholic reference: Pete is Saint Peter.)
I hope this was helpful. Don’t hesitate to ask me any questions, and happy writing!
Follow me for more writing advice, or check out my other writing tips here. New topics to write advice about are also always appreciated.
Tag list below the cut. If you like to be added to or removed from the list, let me know.
And if you come up with creative curses, feel free to add them in the comments :)
@therska @writingwordsaddrawingpictures @the-words-we-never-said @writingwhithotchocolate @i-rove-rock-n-roll @maskedlady @no-time-like-write-now @timefire25 @black-lakritz-dragon @nzmayart @fandomrandomness-stuff @dangertoozmanykids101 @anaestheticdisaster @storytellingofravens @purpleshadows1989 @mathematicpony @i-don-t-know-words @notquitenovelist @coffeescribles @reffaces @livingthelovelylife @katsglabella @lokitty-is-my-spirit-animal @thefallenbibliophilequote @watchmewritedumb @sting-the-scribe @kais-writing-shit @dameschnee123 @curiosityonmars @oodlittlething @nonbinarychaoticstupid
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two very little moments that really got to me in tonight’s episode were in beaus conversation with yudala and her conversation with caleb.
first was yudala telling beau to come back to the soul if she was about to die, and that just really struck me because beau has been telling everyone, building herself up for, the expectation that there is a large possibility that she will die on this mission. and here’s yudala fon, a professional acquaintance, her boss, telling her to come back. beau has made it clear the world is at stake, and this person says i see you and i trust your instincts, and i want you to choose your own life if the situation goes in that direction. like. bro. it just hits so hard that beau is so valued
and then there’s the conversation with caleb, which hit in a different way. beau comes up, fully knowing caleb is focused on something and caleb tries to shoo her away, but when she persists he turns his full attention to her. there’s so much about their dynamic in this little moment, about how well they know each other. beau knows caleb is focused, caleb knows beau has a tendency to try to annoy caleb when he’s focused, but also knows that eventually she’ll leave, and here she’s not leaving, so it’s important. and then she starts talking about planning her date. because yes they’re trying to save the world and the situation is dire but yasha is important and this new beginning is important and could caleb use his seventh level spell for this and caleb says yes of course, smiling and into it and excited for his friend.
bro it just. this episode has so many good beau moments and it’s so incredibly clear from these little, split second moments that not only is beau trusted, she is valued? and not only is she valued, she is known? and she has people who care for her plans and for what she thinks is important even as the world is burning down
and did she ever expect to have that as a kid?
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