'Earthisms' to be avoided, and their alternatives

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by solojones, May 2, 2004.

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  1. Kit' Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 30, 1999
    star 5
    I use frig for a fridge. Didn't know about the conservator thing.

    I'd just like to point out that frig is a mild curse (actually a euphumism(?) for another obvious swear) in Australia. I'd probably have to double read a story if I came across that word. :p

    Different things jolt different people. Sometimes the most obviously made up word throws people more.

    Just as a religious aside, I don't see why particular religious terms should be off-limits. Thinking about it some terms may jolt to much. However, I've refered to gods within my pantheon (fanfic pantheon that is) by particular names or just "god". One of my minor characters follows a monthesitics religion in which the god's name is Gorran. It's not unusal for him to say "In the name of Gorran!" as a curse when he is upset of "By Gorran". I don't think many readers would have an issue with it if the religion was already introduced.

    Kithera
  2. Daughter_of_Yubyub Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2002
    star 6
    I seem to remember one of the X-Wing books had "Congratulations to Master and Mistress [whatever the name of their cover was :p] on their fifth wedding marker!" for what it's worth. :p
  3. Dev_Binks Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 7, 2003
    star 6
    I remember that Tyria and Piggy, right?
  4. Mystic_Ally1 Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Apr 30, 2004
    One of the many joys I find in writing fanfic is making up cultures as I add orignal worlds. The culture of a planet is normally going to reflect the planet's environment and history (mass migrations, natural catasrophes, think of "Noah's Flood" that was featured in the Bible, Gilgamesh and some other myths). In turn, the expression a character is going to use is probably going to reflect on the culture he grew up in.

    If you're a history geek like me ;) you could use our own humble Earth history as inspiration. The Indo-Europeans of central Asia lived in a dry, not very fertile environment of steppe lands. For food they hunted horses, and after studying their habits long enough were even able to domesticate them. They also came to domesticate cattle and ox and fought amongst themselves for oasis herding grounds. You thus (yes, i actually said 'thus', get over it) have a society of warring people migrating to India, Greece, and China on horses with a kin-based clan governmnent and a relatively mobile social system with two classes, nobles and commoners. Like the Aztecs, the steppe land people lauded military achievement, so it became patriarchal. They also made great traders, and believed in the power shamans and mystics.

    If you were going to have a character in GFFA who lived in a societry similar to this one, you'd probably have him value discipline, follow a religion that links good luck to some diety, etc. From there you could create expressions that reflect the culture. The nice thing about it is that not only will it be unique and believable, but its fun :D

    BTW, personally I think Corellia had a similar history to the central Asian nomads. In Corellia there may have been several races or ethnic groups or alien species, and the current Corellians, like the central Asians, took over and adopted parts of neighboring cultures. Han's family might have been merchant traders. Just my two cents *shrugs*

  5. solojones Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    I was writing something yesterday in which I wanted to refer to a pool in the Jedi temple for training. However, it didn't sound right just to use 'pool' so instead I went for the highly fancy natatorium, which I think sounded more technical and SWsy. Just a tip in case someone wanted to use a different for for pool :p

    -sj loves kevin spacey
  6. Knight_Dilettante Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 24, 2002
    star 4
    I like to make up names by practically hitting random keys on the keyboard and then playing with what I produce. Both for names of people and for names of animals or food or whatever although for animals and food I try to make them give the idea of what they are. Like finnefowl which are obviously a kind of bird and probably not very bright. At least that is what you were supposed to get from the name. I don't know why I thought it was ok to call something an Alderaani fig but later that I couldn't use blackberries though so had to come up with my own word, blilberries.

    I found an interesting name site the other day. It had a bazillion first names, many of which I had never heard of before with descriptions of what you are like if this is your name. The wierd thing was, for me and for a couple of friends and relatives that I looked up in it, it was discomfortingly accurate. Unfortunately I don't have the link here. If I find it I'll edit it in. It was something odd like Kalbrath philosopy or something so who knows what it was really about. But it had lots of different ways to spell names all listed on a page. So could be useful.

    KD
  7. VadeyFan2002 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 30, 2002
    star 4
    What's wrong with the use of Mr. and Mrs.?
    It's a very neutral form of address. It'says nothing about social status, job or age.

    If you can't use them, then you open a can of worms.
    Because if they are to earthy, Lord and Lady is the same as well as the usages of ranks; Captain, Admiral, Commander, and so forth.

    You can go too far in avoiding earth isms. When you can't use cooler or fridge, when you have to explain to me, why a table is a table a seat a seat ... Why do they use english words in basic? Otherwise you have to creat a whole new language like Klingon at Star Trek, and no one would understand a word without a subtext(movie) or dictionary(press product).
  8. beezel26 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2003
    star 7
    Actually I would use pool. A pool of water can be a mere pond. Actually I believe using Victorian words for alot of things works fine. Mainly the Queens English is used quite frequently in the books.
  9. solojones Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    Well I used pool for when they were actually at the facility to refer to the actual pool of water. But it just seemed odd for the Jedi to be like, "Yes, here at the Temple we have training facilities, meditation chambers, a creche for the younglings, and a POOL!!!11!" ;)

    Natatorium is always the word I've heard used as the official name of indoor swimming facilities anyway.

    I don't know if I'd use 'Mr.' and 'Mrs.' just because those abbreviations scream English-speaking-earth to me. I think just by spelling them out, it would work.


    -sj loves kevin spacey
  10. Dev_Binks Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 7, 2003
    star 6
    Mister and Mistress, sounds the best I think.
  11. JadeDjo Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 14, 2004
    star 2
    I think I like madam and sir the best.
  12. Krash RSA Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2000
    star 5
    Hello, my name is Krash...and I'm about to start my first SW fanfic (newbie alert...I know) Got a few questions for the experts and veterans to consider:

    Time: "hours", "minutes" would be replaced by ???

    Swearing: I know it's not allowed here on the boards, but what are acceptible SW related terms for when you stub your toe in the refresher door? (if you take my meaning sir?) Is it ok to come up with local (Corellian?) expressions that get the same "earthism" expressed. i love how the show Farscape does that with words like "Frell" and "Dren" (they just sound real but not from our language.
  13. Jedikma Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2004
    star 4
    I'd be interested to know about hours and minutes, too. I have seen a day referred to as a 'standard day'.

    I try not to use too many 'earthisms' in what I write, either. I try to go back to the books I have if I can remember where to find certain references. (I look mostly in the JA, JQ books)

    I was wondering about materials. I know 'leather' is used, but I was wondering about silk. I have seen septsilk. Is it the same or similiar?

    Also, I want to comment that I have seen words used in fan fiction that I don't see in the books. For example, I notice a lot of people use 'creche'. In the JA books it is called a 'nursery'. I have not seen 'creche' in the books I have read.

    It doesn't bother me for an author to use an occasional 'earthism' as long as there aren't too many in one story.
  14. beezel26 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2003
    star 7
    Minutes and hours I believe are fine. Its earth but its no different then North or South.


    silk is used quite a bit. But you have to come up with different names. Like Corellian Silk or something else to describe it. No different than Bantha leather or Corinthian leather.
  15. DARTH2-D2 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 9, 2002
    star 4
    Stang has been used a lot by Han and Lando as a swear in most books ive read. mostly it is used as Damn, or darn, but it can replace the F word too. in writing my Yoda on Dagobah journals, I have kept to the standard 7 day week, 4 week months, and so one, but what I have done is not make that clear. I dont make yoda say he has been there for a week or a month on a certain day. I skip days in his journal so the connection to week, month units dont show an exact edge. i never let yoda say, seven days, one week gone by.... or it has been 90 days or 3 months since being here... you dont have to be so precise if you can help it.
  16. DARTH2-D2 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 9, 2002
    star 4
    also I have heard leather spoken as skin, greedo wore a rancor skin vest. the term leather has been used, ive seen it as a leather flight couch.
  17. beezel26 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2003
    star 7
    But skin is different than leather. You need skin to make leather. It has to be treated.
    Hunters wear animal skins over their shoulders all the time.
  18. Jazz_Skywalker Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 3, 2002
    star 4
    Doesn't Anakin wear some type of synthetic leather in AotC? I haven't looked at any books in forever, but I'm pretty sure he does.

    I don't know if I'd use 'Mr.' and 'Mrs.' just because those abbreviations scream English-speaking-earth to me. I think just by spelling them out, it would work.

    Good point, solojones, and good idea.

    What's wrong with the use of Mr. and Mrs.?
    It's a very neutral form of address. It'says nothing about social status, job or age.


    Actually, VadeyFan2002, Mrs. does say something about social status - if the woman is married, traditionally she would take Mrs. instead of Miss. (Which isn't very fair, since Mr. is used for both married and unmarried men, which is why I personally go by Ms.) On Earth, in most cases, married women are considered superior to nonmarried ones, especially in the past...

    Getting off my soapbox for the moment,
    JS
  19. Daughter_of_Yubyub Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2002
    star 6
    I think I've seen Ms. used in some of the books.

    Silk... I remember there was vine silk in one book. Real expensive stuff.
  20. PadawanRoo Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 7, 2003
    star 1
    on ducks: http://www.starwars.com/databank/creature/duck/index.html

    ...so there you have it, folks. Ducks are official Star Wars creatures :).

    I do think it's very possible to go over the top with avoiding earthisms. If it looks like a duck, works like a duck, and sounds like a duck, just call it a duck-- Lucas does.

    To whit, wrist chronometer. There is no substantive difference between a wrist chronometer and a watch. Saying wrist chronometer just jars readers out of the story while they go "hey... what's that? how's it different from a watch?" Granted, people get used to it, but why make them?

    Orson Scott Carde talks about this in his book "How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy," in a section titled 'New Words for New Meanings:'

    "Nothing is more tacky thant to have a bunch of foreign-sounding words thrown into a story for no better reason than to have something that sounds foreign. James Blish called these needlessly coined words 'shmeerps.' If it looks like a rabbit and acts like a rabbit, calling it a shmeerp doesn't make it alien.
    If 'mugubasala' means bread, then say bread! Only use the made-up stuff when it is used for a concept for which there is no english word. If your viewpoint character thinks that 'mugubasala' is nothing but bread, then later discovers that it is prepared through a special process that releases a drug from the grain, and that drug turns out to be the source of the telepathic power that the natives are suspected of having, then you are justified in calling the bread mugubasala. It really is different, and deserves the added importance that a foreign name bestows...."
    "Your invented languages should have concepts that just can't be translated, not so that you can toss in cool-sounding phrazes...but rather so that you can develop--and the reader can understand--the cultural and intellectual differences between cultures."

    ---
    I think that's some of the best writing advice I've ever gotten, and it applies perfectly to star wars:

    Tranperisteel is different from glass. It's stronger and denser.
    Muja fruit is different from Passionfruit, grapefruit, or Mango. It's got a different taste and texture.
    lightsabers are different from swords.

    but
    wrist chronometer?
    refreshment unit??
    how are these any different from wristwatches and bathrooms? why waste words explaining what they are when we've already got a word readers will scan over without thinking about?

    Because it's presumed that we're translating all these words out of Basic and into English to begin with, a word that doesn't translate, such as muja, Jedi, or padawan, or a word that translates funny, such as transperisteel, should have some significance. Just changing nouns at random to help readers immerse themselves in the world too often has the opposite effect.

    just my $0.02.
    ~Roo
  21. AlrikFassbauer Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2003
    star 4
    I remember having read something about a "Standard Imperial" mesurement of time. Unfortunately I can't remember where.
  22. TheBothanJedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2004
    star 2
    I remember reading a very funny fic "Two Jedi Walk into a Bar" that was hillarious, but filled with very obvious Earthisms. For example one of the drinks the two Jedi drink is Long Island Iced Tea. That totaly ruined what was otherwise an exelent comedy fic because it SCREAMED reality. Especially because I'm from Long Island.


    On a seperate note I am currently writing a fic in which several of the characters were all in a band with each other durring their teen years. I can't just say so and so played guitar, bass, drums, ect, so I was wondering if I could get some suggestions for what to call those things.
  23. Jedi_Monk Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 13, 2004
    star 3
    Curses (as I understand them):

    F***replace with kriff

    Damn can still be damn, or can be replaced with Spast

    sh** replace with poodoo (which can stand in for "dead meat," as well), or stang

    BS replace with Sithspit.

    I was also under the impression that cigarras were cigars, not cigarettes. Also, I don't think I've ever seen any SW characters smoking besides people hanging out in wreched hives of scum and villiany, leading me to the idea that (going strictly by the Canon) smoking isn't legal in the Republic, and that deathsticks could, in fact, be the canonical equivilent of your normal, everyday cigarette. This assumption can also be backed-up by the fact that cigarettes are also called cancer-sticks, which isn't a very far cry from deathsticks.
  24. Jedi_Monk Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 13, 2004
    star 3
    jedi_keladry, I think the easiest thing would be to just add a passage where Obi-Wan's reflecting on how people still call him Master, even when they don't know what he was.
  25. Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2000
    star 4
    I'd call a drum a drum. You might use archaic names for musical instruments to replace some of the others, or just alter them a little... guitar as gitarr, perhaps? Or follow the Orson Scott Card advice, above.
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