Squawk Radio

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


I love language. I love words. I love finding just the right word for the right situation. The word that not only brings to mind a clear picture of a thing or a state, but also colorizes it with the emotion and personality of the point of view character.

No one makes better words to describe subtlties than the Germans.
Gewissenhiß? The bite of conscience! Zeitgeist? The spirit of the time. Ersatz? A replacement or substitute of inferior quality. And my favorite, Schadenfruede, the shameful and malicious joy one finds in the misery of others. Not that I've ever experienced this last but I imagine some people do...

One of the best ways to convey a person's personality is by the terms in which he thinks and speaks. Slang in particular. As a historical romance author, I compiled a twenty page thesaurus of regency slang. If I want to call some one freckled, I look up “complexion” and find “bran-faced,” if I look up “drunk” I find “foxed, jug-bitten, bosky, tap-hackled, ape-drunk, in alt, “ and “properly shot in the neck.”

But now I am writing contemporary novels and while my main characters are not teenagers or young adults, occasionally I find it necessary for one of them to make an appearance. This is when the trouble starts. I have a daughter who ought to be helpful in this area. Not so. Doodah is apparently as slang- challenged as her mother. All she can tell me for sure is that almost any word I attribute to the eighteen year old boy in the book I'm working on is wrong. “Lame,” is...lame. "Shady" is... lame, too.

What are your favorite words borrowed from another language, words you just can’t seem to translate adequately into English? And, for the love of heaven, share with me some SLANG! My teenage boy is ...lame.
Connie Brockway, 8:58 PM