“Our unique corner of the afterlife was once part of our larger neighbor,” explained Damon, steering the New Arrivals Bus through Heck. “At first they considered the darnations typos, but over time we distinguished ourselves through mildly unpleasant torture of our clientele: rappists and pedophobes mostly, with your occasional grammar Nazi.
“Across our heckscape, the darned endure an eternity of daytime TV, Taco Bell, and N*Sync.”
Suddenly, a tire blew. “Dang it to H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks! Fu–” shouted Damon. He clapped his hands over his mouth.
Too late. A maw opened beneath the bus, and from it, the smell of fudge…
It’s been a while since my last microfiction, huh? Well, here’s something a bit goofy to start off your week!
Language and linguistics is an area of special interest to me, as both a writer and a professional in the world of literacy. One thing I find particularly interesting is the way “bad words”– that is, profanity or taboo words — operate in cultures around the world.
For example, I remember when I was learning my first non-native language, and how much we children loooooved learning all the naughty words in Italian. We would spend whole lunch breaks with our Italian-to-English dictionaries hunting down all the words we weren’t supposed to say in English, but were somehow okay in Italian because no one knew what we were saying.
There is something about separating the sounds and meanings that takes the sting out of those words.
I rather wonder if that’s why we have words like “darn” and “heck”, surrogate words that let us communicate frustration and anger without the full extent of the ill-will behind the words. After all, it’s not a very nice thing to wish hell or damnation on anyone.
But what if the intention carried over, anyway? What if all we’ve done is to wish a place called Heck into existence, and proceeded to darn everyone to it? And what if it’s filled with Grammar Nazis? Oh, the horrors!
What is your opinion on taboo words, and the funny things we say to avoid them? Got a favorite example?