Saturday, April 9, 2011

Heck - the abcedaria of a writer

Heck - as in give 'em heck! What the heck is heck doing in a writer's abcedaria? Well, pull up a chair and I'll tell you.  Heck is slang for hell, as in give them heck. We don't much use heck these days, we don't much use the kinder euphemisms for the swear words of yesterday. We don't say 'Golly gee' when we mean something else. We don't use, as my mother did, 'shitenheimer' for shit, because somehow giving it a somewhat foreign twist doesn't really fool anyone does it?!  But we do have to deal with language when we write - do we use the common currency of the day or the words of yesterday? Do we soften the blow or harshen it up so we'll be considered Au courant?

Unless we're writing for The Sheriff of Mayberry, we don't use dang or golly gee or durn it or
heck. We use f**k and d**n and other wondrous evocative words with good old Anglo Saxon fricatives. (by the way, it is the fricatives - the way the word feels in our mouth - that makes us like many of the old curse words)

Definition of FRICATIVE: a consonant characterized by frictional passage of the expired breath through a narrowing at some point in the vocal tract
I realized on about my gazillionth revision, that the protagonist of my current novel doesn't really swear as much as I had her swearing. That would be me actually. I'm a big time swearer. This is true and I totally blame it on two things - my folks had a friend, a woman, who swore like a trooper, and they loved her though they didn't love her swearing. Somehow this made swearing very attractive to me. The other thing is the afore mentioned fricative - the way that most of the good old anglo-saxon words feel in the mouth - all rough and satisfying.  Now, i'm not a goof and I'm not an adolescent. I know when and where to swear and I also know that I go there pretty easily - but not my protagonist. She isn't me and swearing wouldn't be her thing so...out came all those lovely words.
So, the heck is, that we have to use all our words appropriately - in the right place and at the right time.


Tracy said...

funny...yeah, I;m not a uses of foul language until I'm on the golf course and then all is open to usable language and yes, even the 'f' word...amazing but true!

Happy A to Z~

Siv Maria said...

Funny you should mention this. Often I mix up languages and swear in Norlisk when I am mad. I don't swear often, so I have to be really mad when I do..Ha ha I am so mad that I can't remember what language to swear in so my mind tricks me into using both. Is that weird? Maybe it is just a sign of dementia :)

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I'm not one to use bad language but sometimes have said something that came out differently to what I meant.


Martha (MM) said...

I had to stop by when I saw the comment you left over at Siv Maria's blog about the anti-hex for forwards - how perfect!
I'm playing along on the A-Z Challenge too. I'm a new follower :-)

Bish Denham said...

I am reminded of Dirty Harry and his well placed, "Swell..."

Tundiel said...

I'm a swearer. I swear like a foul-mouthed sailor. Can't help myself, it's just the way I am.

I rarely swear in fron of the kids, but I sometimes forget myself and have to change the word mid-stream, so I end up saying 'for fuuuuudge sake!!' or something.

Dorte H said...

Shitenheimer? Oh, I must find a context where I can use that one :)

Swearing is amazingly difficult to get right in a foreign language. I don´t swear though most Danes do, but my characters (in non-cosies) do occasionally. I think it is terribly difficult to figure out how bad I am when a policeman says "friggin´ fool" because my British beta-readers often regard my swearwords as much worse than I do. The problem is that among Christians in Denmark swearing is taking God´s or the Devil´s name in vain - we don´t mind talking about bodily functions. So perhaps a good dictionary should include a swearometer ;)

fredamans said...

I give my 16 yr old son heck on a regular.

moe said...

I like Mark Twain's comment, “Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer."


Alison Miller said...

I love your twisted expletives!

I'm forty. And a teacher. And a mother of two. SO I say heck and things like gosh golly gee A LOT. :) I used to have a strict no swearing policy for my novels, but I've compromised a bit. Just a bit.

But as goody-two-shoes as I try to be with my mouth, I will admit - sometimes my potty mouth cannot be restrained. :)

New follower from A-Z! Nice to meet you!

GigglesandGuns said...

Thanks, Jan. Reading this post showed me why my MC is the way she is. Believe it or not, it has very little to do with swearing.
Thanks again and have a great Sunday.


Hannah Kincade said...

You are so right. I use my swears when it's appropriate, in writing. In life, I use it whenever I damn well please! LOL!

LTM said...

it's true! You can't be afraid to let your characters sound the way they're supposed to! :o) <3

Eve said...

I swear way too much..not in my blog usually, but in my life I swear a lot. I'm a grown woman and not a goof I know what to blame, it's the FRICATIVE! That F**K**G FRICATIVE! Love your posts, I learn so much!