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Abigail DeWitt: How Trump Killed My Taste for Profanity

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The top critical Amazon review of my last novel, Dogs, laments that “there was unnecessary use of the ‘F’ word.” The novel is from the point of view of a pot-smoking, shoplifting teenager in the 1970s. What did the reader expect? I laughed and figured I was in good stylistic company: I’d once heard Junot Diaz criticized on NPR for his “language,” and the radio host wasn’t talking about the rhythm of his sentences. In fairness to my Amazon critic, it isn’t only when I’m inside the mind of a fictional character that I’m drawn to profanity. I’ve loved swearing since I was a little girl. My father, who taught me to love good writing, swore like the Navy veteran…

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When Words Turn into Magic in Novel ‘Ninth City Burning’

in Fiction by
Ninth City Burning

In Ninth City Burning there is a close and very special relationship between language and magic. Words are semi-magical things in themselves—intangible, weightless, and yet capable of real and drastic effect. Words have the power to wound, to uplift, to alter opinions and perceptions, and, when spoken by the right people under the right circumstances, change the world. Phrases like “I now pronounce you husband and wife” (or, if we’re being grim, “I hereby sentence you to death”) alter the state of reality simply by their utterance. It’s like—well, magic. And so it should come as no surprise that, with a little extra effort, language can be made to perform magic of the true, supernatural variety. The simplest example is…

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Video: Missed It? Interview with Linguistics Guru David J. Peterson and The Art of Language Invention

in Nonfiction by

An insider’s tour through the construction of invented languages from the bestselling author and creator of languages for the HBO series Game of Thrones and the Syfy series Defiance From master language creator David J. Peterson comes a creative guide to language construction for sci-fi and fantasy fans, writers, game creators, and language lovers. Peterson offers a captivating overview of language creation, covering its history from Tolkien’s creations and Klingon to today’s thriving global community of conlangers. He provides the essential tools necessary for inventing and evolving new languages, using examples from a variety of languages including his own creations, punctuated with references to everything from Star Wars to Michael Jackson. Along the way, behind-the-scenes stories lift the curtain on how he…

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