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Power to the J
April 19th, 2007, 01:37 PM
I'm starting a story that takes place on Earth about 200-400 years from now. I was trying to think of slang but all my ideas kind of sucked. Any help?

Expendable
April 19th, 2007, 04:00 PM
Ok, we're going to need more information here.

What notable events take place between now and +200 in the future in your world?
What social groups exist between +150 and +200? How do these groups get along with each other? Are there minorities? What social group(s) does your protagonist belong to? What is their place in the social strata?
Have we made contact with aliens?
What is the tech like?
What issues exist?

What does your protagonist do? What events have shaped their life? Who is their friends and enemies?

The more you can tell us about your world, the better we can help you. Minimal answers get minimal responses.

Expendable
April 19th, 2007, 04:09 PM
Oh, here's a thought. If you've just started writing your story in this new universe and are creating it as you go, forget about future slang for now. Just write your draft using the slang you already know and are comfortable with.

Later, during the first rewrite, as you know more about the world and society you've created, you can update your slang where needed.

Something to keep in mind is what people hear. If the censors of the future are very strict, your most powerful curse might just be "Bleep!", "Buzz!" or whatever the censored sound of choice is.

World Builder
April 19th, 2007, 04:14 PM
In addition to what Expendable has asked, I'll add a generic "Why?"

Why is your story set 200-400 years in the future, rather than 2 days or 2 millennia in the future or the past? (oh, and why such a large margin of error, 2200 could be very, very different from 2400. Considering the difference between 1800 and 2000 (and between 1900 and 2000 for that matter).

Why do you think your ideas suck? Its quite possible that they're good and you're just letting your inner critic get the better of you. Don't selll yourself short. What sort of ideas have you been kicking around already?

Aside from that, what sort of world are we dealing with? Has a Vingean Singularity occured and Earth is now maintained and administered by synthetic intelligences superior to our own? Did the Hubbert Peak and fossil fuel crash send civilization back to the days before Industrial Revolution. Huh, just realized it would be rather interesting if both happened in one story and there was a highly developed technocracy ruling over a largely agarian society. Anyone know of any books / stories like that?

Regardless, will be able to provide more advice once some questions have been answered.

WB

Expendable
April 19th, 2007, 04:36 PM
Try James Gardner (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Alan_Gardner)'s "Commitment Hour" - it's part of his League of People series. After contact with the League of People, there's a great exodus of people. Infrastructure collapses, people learn how to make do, returning to farming, fishing, etc. Tech Lords rule over a largely agrarian society.

James Carmack
April 19th, 2007, 10:11 PM
To project slang into your future world, you need to grasp how slang comes about. The big four are comparison, contrast (irony), conflation and diminutive. Of course there's more to it than that, but these arguably comprise the greater part of slang. We compare wired networks to plumbing and hence we talk about the "pipes", we turn the image of the musclebound ogre on its head and call him "tiny", we get fog-like smoke and call it "smog", and we call our chief executive "the Prez". You get the idea.

Of course, an extensive slang isn't necessary because it will only needlessly confuse your reader. If you're going to make a bunch of words people don't know (and/or give new meanings to the words they do know), why not go all the way and show the inevitable changes in othography, phonetics and whatnot. Maybe there's a whole new Great Vowel Shift that comes to prominence in the 2150s and all our "ah's" sound like "uh's" in the 23rd Century.

I agree with Expendable. Just write your story for now. Get the meat and potatoes squared away and then you can worry about the garnish.

Ajax Torbin
April 20th, 2007, 02:22 PM
slang comes fro many differant sources. useuly having somthing to do with an event taht becomes lost to those who end up using it.

take our online 'slang' for instance, who first used LOL? we may never know. but im willing to bet there is story behind it. i find that helps me, i think up a cool slangish term, like Goz.
agoz is like 'leather-neck' its used to refer to a space marine. at first it was derogitory, but the marines in their contrary maner started useing it among themselves.
goz orriganily refers to a gaussgun, one of the most powerfull weapons in teh Terran Armed Forces. teh term for the gun was shortened to 'Gaus' and then just 'Goz'. it was assoisiated with marines because of their method of using a bigger hammer when a smnaller one was acceptable. as in "a marine would use a gaussgun to open a can of rations"
goz is used like so, "Don't be such a damned goz!" (use it like you would 'moron' or 'jerk' or perhaps 'uncultured brute'

i have created may terms and phrases using this 'backwards evolution' style

Quelogue
April 24th, 2007, 11:02 PM
I would like to play devil's advocate to some of the comments put forth so far and, hopefully give Power to the J some food for thought into the bargain.
;)

Modern languages, particularly in the West, are continually being sculpted through the creation and use of newer, and cleverer slang terms. I believe that slang goes a long way to defining cultural identity. To give an example in the extreme, you wouldn't expect a parish priest to begin a sermon by saying, "Wazzup homies!" Conversely, you wouldn't expect gangstahs to walk up to one another and say, "May the Lord bless you this fine day," now would you?

Now let's turn to the world of the novelist. In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams uses made-up words for comic effect, and gives such words an off-world feel, thereby enhancing his comic science-fiction novel. Granted, the man was a professor of English at Cambridge University, so he was one cool frood who really knew where his towel was! However, nowhere in the book (yes I've read it) does he ever explain what a frood actually is. Does it mean great guy, or something else? The reader is left to ponder what that term actually means, or to hope that an explanation is given later on in the book, which would naturally encourage the reader to read on.

Of course, I am not suggesting that you should fill your story with excess made-up slang, and then not explain what it means. However, if you wish to throw in some slang terms, and create a context for them, thereby leading your reader to figure out their meaning, then I would say "Go for it".

I firmly believe that one should not stick rigidly to the rules and guidelines, because that just takes all the fun and spontaneity out of it. Definitely work out the basic plot first, but once that's done. I see no reason why shouldn't have the freedom to come up with a few cool-sounding nonsense words, and then create a culture around that! Be free to write, and see what happens. :D

Stephen Palmer
May 2nd, 2007, 04:50 AM
Anybody interested in 'future slang' would do well to read - or try to read - Gwyneth Jones' extraordinary book Escape Plans.

Expendable
May 2nd, 2007, 07:14 PM
I would like to play devil's advocate to some of the comments put forth so far and, hopefully give Power to the J some food for thought into the bargain.
;)

...Now let's turn to the world of the novelist. In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams uses made-up words for comic effect, and gives such words an off-world feel, thereby enhancing his comic science-fiction novel. Granted, the man was a professor of English at Cambridge University, so he was one cool frood who really knew where his towel was! However, nowhere in the book (yes I've read it) does he ever explain what a frood actually is. Does it mean great guy, or something else? The reader is left to ponder what that term actually means, or to hope that an explanation is given later on in the book, which would naturally encourage the reader to read on....

My copy of H2G2 defines a frood as "a really amazingly together guy" in the footnotes at the bottom of the page.