Tuesday, November 06, 2007

DIY expletives

I was about to apologize for writing something self-indulgent, but then I remembered this is a blog. Moving along...

I've fallen into the habit of saying DIY (do-it-yourself) expletives. Making up expletives isn't difficult. With practice, driven by the frustrations of everyday life, the original sound combinations just flow off the lips like, uh, spittle. Observe these helpful tips, which are more guidelines than rules:
  • Keep each individual "word" short. Expletives beyond two syllables can be unwieldy and unsatisfying. The goal is acting as an embodiment of anger and rage--emotions of violent aggression.
  • The limitation on the length and complexity of each word doesn't apply to the "sentence" as a whole. Speaking multiple words in rapid succession is great for overall effect, even more so in situations when loudness is prohibited.
  • To start a "word", I like to use the consonants k, t, d, m, s. To a lesser degree I also sprinkle in usage of p, h, b, n, g (hard or soft pronunciation, but more often hard), and f. More complicated consonantal sounds can be handy for adding flavor, such as "st","ch", "sp". By all means include gutturals, if you can without hurting yourself or working too hard.
  • I like to use the vowel sounds "ah", "oo", "oh". Other vowel sounds can help to break up monotony, perhaps in the middle or end of a statement, but in any case shouldn't draw attention too far away from the consonants. Following up a vowel sound with another vowel sound ("oo-ee" for example) is probably not conducive to maintaining peppy rhythm and tempo.
  • "Words" with multiple syllables (not more than two or three per word, recall!) are simply constructed by combining monosyllabic words.
  • Emphasize whichever syllable you like. Variety is what I prefer.
  • The last tip is counterintuitive: don't let the preceding tips slow you down or stop you from creating a word that feels right. Practice and developing the habit are more important.
Some quick examples:
  • "Mah-TOO-choh!"
  • "Fah soo poh NOOST!"
  • "KOH-dahb hoom BAYSH-tah!"
I'm not absolutely sure what led me to start muttering violent gibberish, but I suspect my Star Wars and Firefly DVDs deserve some of the blame.

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