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I can't speak for anyone else, but personally, I've always loved the cursing in Brandon Sanderson's works.

 

...Which is strange, because I myself never use any curse heavier than "drat," and I've been known to gasp and dramatically faint if even the mildest obscenities are uttered in my presence.

 

But that is all beside the point. What I'd like to draw attention to is the fact that most of the curses found in the Bandersnatch's worlds are clearly connected to an element of the setting. People on Roshar say "storm it," people on Scadrial say "rust" or "Lord Ruler," and people on Nalthis will exclaim "colors!"

 

In the Fractured States you can find many people cursing by the name of Calamity, but two other profanities we find in the setting are "slontze" and "sparks," which bear no obvious connection to the world or its quirks. So where did these words come from? In the case of "slontze" in particular, what is it's in-universe etymology, and how did Brandon come up with the word?

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Those two words, "sparks" especially, bugged me the most throughout the first book. (By the second I was totally used to it.) Curse words in out era have roots stretching back at least a few years, roots that tell us why society came to regard them as foul. "Slontze" and "sparks" don't seem to have much connection to anything. And where I can see a random word like "slontze" becoming a curse, it's not quite the same with "sparks." Sparks are just...well, sparks.

Maybe those two words are connected to something that happened shortly after Calamity's rise?

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Those two words, "sparks" especially, bugged me the most throughout the first book. (By the second I was totally used to it.) Curse words in out era have roots stretching back at least a few years, roots that tell us why society came to regard them as foul. "Slontze" and "sparks" don't seem to have much connection to anything. And where I can see a random word like "slontze" becoming a curse, it's not quite the same with "sparks." Sparks are just...well, sparks.

Maybe those two words are connected to something that happened shortly after Calamity's rise?

 

My best hypothesis for the origin of the word "slontze" is that it's derived from an eastern European word--it has the same general sound to it as a lot of eastern European languages, after all. Perhaps there were a few waves of immigration to the Americas after Calamity, perhaps as people fled a particularly heinous Russian Epic?

 

"Sparks" has a very... action-oriented sound to it. Like a curse word you'd expect to hear develop from a society where explosions and collisions with fine-grade steel are a regular part of life. Do we hear any non-Newcagoans use the word? I'm pretty sure Megan uses it regularly, but I may be wrong.

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I think he cracked it- sparks would be absolutely everywhere in Newcago.

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Brandon has mentioned (in one of the audios I haven't gotten a chance to transcribe yet so this is kind of paraphrased, sorry) that "slontze" came out of his relationship with his editor and agent (both of whom are Jewish) and say a bunch of cool Yiddish words.  So Brandon wanted to come up with a word that kind of sounded like that.

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Brandon has mentioned (in one of the audios I haven't gotten a chance to transcribe yet so this is kind of paraphrased, sorry) that "slontze" came out of his relationship with his editor and agent (both of whom are Jewish) and say a bunch of cool Yiddish words.  So Brandon wanted to come up with a word that kind of sounded like that.

 

That is cool. Thanks for the info! :D (Even though I was way off-base saying the word sounded east-European. :P)

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That is cool. Thanks for the info! :D (Even though I was way off-base saying the word sounded east-European. :P)

Well, even if it's not what Brandon was aiming for down here in germany we have the word schlotzig or schlontzig. (although it may not be an "offical" word) It's used to describe food, like risotto were the individual grains of rice (it could also be used for noodles ect) started to become somewhat slimy, so you can't tell the individual grains apart from each other anymore.

It always made me think a Slontze is someone with mush for brains.

Edited by Edgedancer
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Slontze in particular always jarred me a little. It's only one letter (or sound) away from several Slavic languages' words for "sun" - sluntze (слънце) in Bulgarian (and, as I just found out, Czech), and solntze (солнце) in Russian (and it's almost the same in Polish). I can kind of maybe justify it - Calamity is a little bit like a second sun out there, so  it's plausible that a curse would evolve around that idea, but it's always been a weird one for me. 

 

As an aside, I have the same issue with David Hair's Scarlet Tides - there is tribe there, the Clan of the Wolf, who call themselves the Vlk (yes, V, L, and K). Which, since it's unpronounceable without a vowel, requires the reader to insert one somewhere, and depending on where the vowel goes (and what the vowel is), you get the word for "wolf" in half a dozen Slavic languages.

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I'm Polish and I honestly never noticed the similarity between slontze and polish word for sun: słońce. (Cool fact about Polish language and Stormlight Archive: Jasnah name is very similar to polish word: jasna which means... bright :D So when we read about Brightness Jasnah in polish version, we have: Jasność Jasnah (assuming, that the "h" at the end is silent). Just imagine reading about Brightness Bright ;) )

 

As for the sparks curse, I think that Kobold King may be right about it originating from Newcago. Everything was made of steel, even the isolation that was used in old electric installations was turned to steel. I think, that it took people some time to figure out how to use electricity in such environment safely. Sparks were obviously involved in this learning process.

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I like the idea of inventing etymology for a non-existent word!

 

From the already-mentioned point of russian language, sOLntze (as the Sun) can be used as a form of address, like "honey" or "dear", and can be convincingly used sarcastically in a dialogue.

The sLOn part, meanwhile, means "elephant", and as a possibly intentional mistype, it's part of a popular pun around "calling your girlfriend an elephant".

 

So, in this setting, it can possibly get to mean something like "clumsy meddling bastard"

Edited by XenosHg
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While I do like the little touch in how Mr. Sanderson portrays such curse words I did feel he overplayed it in the case of Steelheart.  I found it kind of odd that the new curse words had already completely eclipsed the old even among those people who would have been adults long before Calamity even showed up.  In all his other stories the cultural origin of the curse words is long established for centuries if not millennia. In Steelheart the cultural basis has only been around for around twelve years.  It just seemed a bit jarring to me that the curse words of the old society would have been so thoroughly supplanted.  At the very least I would have expected some older people doing a bit of eye rolling at the young peoples vocabulary on occasion.

Edited by Arondell
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While I do like the little touch in how Mr. Sanderson portrays such curse words I did feel he overplayed it in the case of Steelheart.  I found it kind of odd that the new curse words had already completely eclipsed the old even among those people who would have been adults long before Calamity even showed up.  In all his other stories the cultural origin of the curse words is long established for centuries if not millennia. In Steelheart the cultural basis has only been around for around twelve years.  It just seemed a bit jarring to me that the curse words of the old society would have been so thoroughly supplanted.  At the very least I would have expected some older people doing a bit of eye rolling at the young peoples vocabulary on occasion.

Calamity spoiler:

Yet somehow groovy is still in use.

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I used to be in the camp of people who found the language shift a little too sudden, but now that I think about it, languages evolve quickly and all the time. Think about how many words have come into existence because of the Internet in the last few years. Five years ago nobody would've thought that "to swipe right" will be used as a synonym for "to like". Google has been around for, what, a couple of decades and its name is already as a verb ("to search (online)") more often than as a noun. 

 

So yea, I can see a few words making their way into the post-Calamity Reckonverse over the course of 20 years or so.

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Or the fact that "like" is a countable noun these days.

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It also just seems strange to me. I can deal with Calamity becoming an expletive, and maybe sparks too, in Newcago, but slontze? where on earth did that come from?

And unnecessary. Like why replace all our words, even the 'soft' curse words like damnation, or hell?

 

 

While I do like the little touch in how Mr. Sanderson portrays such curse words I did feel he overplayed it in the case of Steelheart.  I found it kind of odd that the new curse words had already completely eclipsed the old even among those people who would have been adults long before Calamity even showed up.  In all his other stories the cultural origin of the curse words is long established for centuries if not millennia. In Steelheart the cultural basis has only been around for around twelve years.  It just seemed a bit jarring to me that the curse words of the old society would have been so thoroughly supplanted.  At the very least I would have expected some older people doing a bit of eye rolling at the young peoples vocabulary on occasion.

 

I agree, it is strange. I mean, Prof seems to be in his forties, and the other adult Reckoners must be in their 30s (I think Cody was in his 20s though, he was youngish wasn't he?) so they've lived most of their lives pre-calamity.

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You know.... it's kinda funny.... my last name happens to be "Sparks" so when they first started saying it, I realized. . . "My name is now a curse word..." :huh:

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You know.... it's kinda funny.... my last name happens to be "Sparks" so when they first started saying it, I realized. . . "My name is now a curse word..." :huh:

 

I am now imagining you as the star of an awkward Reckoners skit. :P

 

 

"Sparks!"

 

"Yes sir?"

 

"I stubbed my toe!"

 

"Well I'm sorry, but what am I supposed to do about that?"

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To those arguing that the new words are acceptable, I think you're missing the point. I don't think anyone is (or at least, I don't think most people are) saying that the new words are too odd to believe. I think that the weird part is that they've replaced all the old swear words. New language does pop up all the time, but that doesn't mean we suddenly forget all the words we used to use. The fact that slontze and sparks are pretty much the only swears in the whole series. However, to be fair, I just looked it up and they say "hell" fairly regularly (in Firefight, at least; I didn't check Steelheart). So maybe they did keep some of the old swears, and we just notice the new ones so much that it seems the old are gone.

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In the Reckoners they can't use real swear words, because those are books targeted to younger audience. There would be many problems with publishing if there were f*cks flying everywhere :) I belive that everyone in the Reckonverse still uses the good old F-word, it's just off screen.

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I don't know that I agree with that. There's been plenty of books labeled "teen" or "young adult" that I've read that had "f*ck" in it.

 

Additionally, and sort of as a side note, I really dislike the idea that books have to be targeted towards a certain age range of readers. What makes this a teen book? The main character's age? Kaladin was 19 when Stormlight Archive started, which is practically the same age. How old was Siri, in Warbreaker? 16? Neither of those books are considered young adult. So is it lack of explicitly adult content? If so, that's kind of ridiculous. It implies that only teens and young adults can be the "target audience" of literature that doesn't contain explicit content, which is just flat-out wrong. Does including explicit material in a book make it better somehow, and therefore only suitable for more experienced and mature readers? Not in the least.

 

Sorry, I don't mean to go on a rant but this sort of thing always bugs me.

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I don't know that I agree with that. There's been plenty of books labeled "teen" or "young adult" that I've read that had "f*ck" in it.

 

Additionally, and sort of as a side note, I really dislike the idea that books have to be targeted towards a certain age range of readers. What makes this a teen book? The main character's age? Kaladin was 19 when Stormlight Archive started, which is practically the same age. How old was Siri, in Warbreaker? 16? Neither of those books are considered young adult. So is it lack of explicitly adult content? If so, that's kind of ridiculous. It implies that only teens and young adults can be the "target audience" of literature that doesn't contain explicit content, which is just flat-out wrong. Does including explicit material in a book make it better somehow, and therefore only suitable for more experienced and mature readers? Not in the least.

 

Sorry, I don't mean to go on a rant but this sort of thing always bugs me.

Funny thing about that: I was at the bookstore today, and looking in the young adult section because I wanted to check how much "Firefight" and "The Rithmatist" cost, and there was a copy of "The Hero of Ages" there as well. However, there was also a copy of "The Hero of Ages" in the adult fantasy section. The only difference between the two is the cover: The copy in the adult section had the cover with Vin and Elend standing back to back, while the copy in the teen section had the cover with Vin standing atop of a dead koloss. (The second one offends my sensibilities as a Sanderfan, since Vin doesn't have an obsidian dagger and her hair is tinged red, but ANYway,) What struck me as strange was that Vin looked 25-30-ish years old on the one in the adult section, while she looked like she was 12-15-ish on the young adult version.

      In any case, random anecdotes notwithstanding, I think that the difference is that young adult novels are more marketed at teens, so they deal more with themes that teens will identify with, and also always use first-person viewpoint for some reason.For instance, if "The Hunger Games was marketed and written for an adult audience, I imagine that it would deal more with how the games are terrible and can't be stood for, as well as themes pertaining to that, instead of it that being a backdrop to Katniss and her quest to find Peeta. I think that were it written for adults, the backdrop and center-stage roles would be reversed. 

Mockingjay spoilers

 

 

 

Also, the twist at the end of the last book, where Coin is evil and stuff probably would have been fueled less by Primrose getting exploded and more about how what Coin was doing was wrong to the morals of the book, seeing that Primrose was more a a thing personal to Katniss, whereas the rest was more about hunger-gamesing being horrible.

 

 

 

Finally, I think that most books are written with what kind of book they want to be (Middle-grade, young adult, adult, children's, whatever.), and some things that would be deemed inappropriate for that age group would not be included in the final copy.

 

P.S. I could go on about some other books, but I won't subject you to that. I have a bad history of being ill-disposed to/despising young adult novels. 

Edited by Evil_Reptile
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I can't speak for anyone else, but personally, I've always loved the cursing in Brandon Sanderson's works.

...Which is strange, because I myself never use any curse heavier than "drat," and I've been known to gasp and dramatically faint if even the mildest obscenities are uttered in my presence.

But that is all beside the point. What I'd like to draw attention to is the fact that most of the curses found in the Bandersnatch's worlds are clearly connected to an element of the setting. People on Roshar say "storm it," people on Scadrial say "rust" or "Lord Ruler," and people on Nalthis will exclaim "colors!"

In the Fractured States you can find many people cursing by the name of Calamity, but two other profanities we find in the setting are "slontze" and "sparks," which bear no obvious connection to the world or its quirks. So where did these words come from? In the case of "slontze" in particular, what is it's in-universe etymology, and how did Brandon come up with the word?

I relate to everything you said in that opening.

Slontze could be just like "jerk" or other similar words, or it could have been an Epic who died in a really dramatic/comical/stupid way before everyone stopped fighting and so it has been verb-ed into someone who is Epic-ly and dramatically stupid. (I also like the "mush for brains" and sun/Calamity theories.)

Edited by Seana
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Funny thing about that: I was at the bookstore today, and looking in the young adult section because I wanted to check how much "Firefight" and "The Rithmatist" cost, and there was a copy of "The Hero of Ages" there as well. However, there was also a copy of "The Hero of Ages" in the adult fantasy section. The only difference between the two is the cover: The copy in the adult section had the cover with Vin and Elend standing back to back, while the copy in the teen section had the cover with Vin standing atop of a dead koloss. (The second one offends my sensibilities as a Sanderfan, since Vin doesn't have an obsidian dagger and her hair is tinged red, but ANYway,) What struck me as strange was that Vin looked 25-30-ish years old on the one in the adult section, while she looked like she was 12-15-ish on the young adult version.

      In any case, random anecdotes notwithstanding, I think that the difference is that young adult novels are more marketed at teens, so they deal more with themes that teens will identify with, and also always use first-person viewpoint for some reason.For instance, if "The Hunger Games was marketed and written for an adult audience, I imagine that it would deal more with how the games are terrible and can't be stood for, as well as themes pertaining to that, instead of it that being a backdrop to Katniss and her quest to find Peeta. I think that were it written for adults, the backdrop and center-stage roles would be reversed. 

Mockingjay spoilers

 

 

 

Also, the twist at the end of the last book, where Coin is evil and stuff probably would have been fueled less by Primrose getting exploded and more about how what Coin was doing was wrong to the morals of the book, seeing that Primrose was more a a thing personal to Katniss, whereas the rest was more about hunger-gamesing being horrible.

 

 

 

Finally, I think that most books are written with what kind of book they want to be (Middle-grade, young adult, adult, children's, whatever.), and some things that would be deemed inappropriate for that age group would not be included in the final copy.

 

P.S. I could go on about some other books, but I won't subject you to that. I have a bad history of being ill-disposed to/despising young adult novels. 

I just feel like, as an adult, I can still enjoy and relate to a "young adult" book, because it's something I went through and an age I once was. Similarly, as a teenager I had no problem enjoying and understanding adult level books either. I just have trouble understanding why a book would be "targeted" towards one specific age group, when people of any age can enjoy it.

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I just feel like, as an adult, I can still enjoy and relate to a "young adult" book, because it's something I went through and an age I once was. Similarly, as a teenager I had no problem enjoying and understanding adult level books either. I just have trouble understanding why a book would be "targeted" towards one specific age group, when people of any age can enjoy it.

I think that the targeting thing swing the other way on this one. While, yes, adults can still relate to these things since they were once teenagers, some teenagers may dislike a book that was written for adults because they don't relate to as many of the things in the book as they would in a teen book, since they don't have the experience of being an adult and relating to different values and emotions.

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Sorry for arriving so late to this discussion, maybe it is not related with the author's intention, but I'm Spanish and here "sparks" is used as an exclamation (really old-fashioned, I think that even my parents have never used such word). So it didn't seem odd at all to me, but it might just be a coincidence.  By the way, the translation would be "Chispas"

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