[Write On Wednesday] Invented Languages

This week’s prompt is inspired by this article on lost American slang. There is such richness and yet a foreign feel to the language in the quotes, that I couldn’t stop thinking about using this as a way to spice up my own writing.

(The examples in the piece remind me of both Harold Hill  — The Music Man’s pop-culture references were meticulously researched — and Mr Burns from The Simpsons! It also made me wonder if Disney intended Bambi’s “Thumper” to have a double-meaning for older viewers.)

The Prompt

Write a story in which your characters have their own slang, dialect, similes and metaphors tied in to their time/place/culture.


  • Feel free to make up the slang. No need for historical accuracy here. Just be consistent within your world.
  • Think about how your characters see life. Are they agricultural? Sports-obsessed? (When I moved to the US I was bamboozled by political articles in newspapers that relied heavily on sports analogies that meant absolutely nothing to me). Are they engineers? Are they space-based?
  • Play with current expressions and change them to fit your characters. In a space opera “How on earth?” becomes “How in the twelve orbiting satellites of Juno?”; the fable of the grasshopper and the ant is transformed into a fable about worker droids and love-bots; etc. In my speculative-fiction novel-in-progress, my atheist-mechanics use expletives like “Great Gears!” where we might use profanity.
  • You can use slang to distance one generation from another (my husband and I are constantly having to explain our bon mots to our children, who are growing up on a different continent as well as a different millennium!)
  • Have fun with this.