Tips 'n Stuff To Make Better Science Fiction/Fantasy Slang & Swear Words

So you want to create some slang for your fantasy world? Want to make up some swears for your space captain to bark out in a bracing battle? Here are a few things to remember and consider when coming up with it all.

Remember, slang words develop organically from pre-existing elements.

Slang doesn’t just pop out of nowhere, but borrows elements from pre-existing languages, either from the originator’s native language, or from a language the originator is familiar with. Here are some examples of how slang can originate:

Remember, slang terms don’t only catch on just because they sound neat - they also need to serve a purpose.

Slang terms that catch on not only sound neat and flow easily from the mouth, but they also serve a useful function to the speaker. For example:

Slang terms used to simplify will usually sound like the expression they started from. Terms used to clarify otherwise difficult-to-describe concepts may sound similar to another word, or they may be fabricated from whole cloth. Terms designed to confuse will often derive directly from the language, but be taken so far out of context that they are impossible to understand, or they may be invented from scratch.

Epithets and swear words need to be high impact and low effort.

Fictional epithets and swear words are easily the most popular type of slang to show up in a science fiction or fantasy story. They’re also the easiest to make unconvincing, because the traits needed to make a good epithet or swear word are often overlooked. Generally speaking, uttering your swear words should should feel like throwing a good punch, which means they need to be:

Some of these rules are more flexible than others. Depending on the language your characters speak, it may not be practical or possible to employ words that are shorter than two syllables or end in hard consonants, and other traits - such as context and the speaker’s tone of voice - provide the necessary force. Even in English, in both real life and fiction, there are multiple successful epithets that don’t possess every single one of these traits. Ignore all of them, however, and you get epithets like “frell” - which is needlessly complicated, completely inoffensive, and sounds less like a punch than someone shuffling their feet through mud.

You might also be interested in:

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Tips & Ideas To Create More Believable Sword 'n Sorcery Worlds
Tips To Write & Create Better & More Believable Futures
Names of THE FUTURE!!!

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