Monday, August 1, 2011
Slang is wonderful. The right piece of slang can do the work of an entire paragraph of backstory. Often a few well-chosen slang words paint a large picture for the reader in just a few strokes. They can show a character's age, socio-economic background, ethnicity, cultural background, and more. Slang can be the shorthand of character exposition. Often, it’s not what we say but how we say it that tells people who we are.
Used sparingly, slang can make your voice unique. The key is sparingly. We’re not all writing A Clockwork Orange. Which brings me to the question: Should you make up your own slang?
On the plus side, invented slang wouldn’t date. And all the groovy chicks and happening cats know that nothing dates faster than real slang. You dig? Far out.
On the down side, is wholly invented slang too contrived? Like I said, we’re not all writing A Clockwork Orange. I’m fairly sure that if I tried to make up an entire slang language, it wouldn’t sound anywhere near as horrorshow. Horrorshow was good, right? It’s been a while.
Of course, there’s always local slang. I love local slang. These examples aren’t popular Aussie slang -- no she'll be right, bonzer, cobber maaaate here (You know, the stuff from postcards that real people never say...) My examples are particularly North Queensland and I've never heard them used outside the region. Sadly, they just doesn’t work as well without the accent in your head.
“Early part” meaning “earlier”.
He was around here early part.
Did this really happen?
“Gammin”. Lying, or kidding. Or sucks to be you.
Nah, just gammin.
My shout -- just gammin!
I have fallen down a well.
Ouch. That’s gammin.
Do you use real slang in your writing? Do you use well-known slang or obscure slang? Or do you make it up as you go along? What awesome local slang do you use that nobody else has ever heard of?