Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.
The Author: Brad Wright & Jonathan Glassner
Work in Question: Stargate SG-1
The Profanity: “Mit’ka”
Science fiction television has always struggled with representing alien languages. Often times, we see the challenge of creating them subverted by a universal translator trope allowing the actors to speak so the audience can understand. It saves time and prevents every episode from becoming a rehash of Arrival. (And let’s face it, few shows can achieve a Darmok.) As a plot device, it’s handy. But the introduction of a translator always means there’s a bit of a plot hole, and it usually comes in the form of a faux-profanity.
Aris Boch: The System Lords think that you are a pain in the mit’ka.
Col. Jack O’Neill: Neck?
Season 3, Episode 7, Dead Man’s Switch
Even played for laughs, it’s reasonably clear what “mit’ka” is replacing. As far as an alien language goes—in this case, Goa’uld—it’s a sufficiently decent direction feeling unique and obscure enough to come across as natural. But it’s not really accentuating parlance in any unique way—it’s a one-to-one replacement. And, since Goa’uld is supposed to be a precursor to Demotic/Coptic/Egyptian, that’s fine. It works even if it’s not doing something unique. Funny enough, Stargate SG-1 never thoroughly explains how all the aliens or ancient humans speak English, even taking this into account, I do find it interesting that the “universal translator” of SG-1 can transpose everything butt (👀) “mit’ka.”
🤬 Previous Raunch Reviews
- “Merlin’s Beard” from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series
- “Drokk” from John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra’s Judge Dredd
- “Skin Job” from Hampton Fancher & David Peoples’ Blade Runner
- “Frag” from J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5
- “Gorram” from Joss Whedon’s Firefly
- “Prawn” from Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell’s District 9
- “By the Firsts” from K. M. Alexander’s Bell Forging Cycle
- “Smurf” from Raja Gosnell & Jordan Kerner’s The Smurfs (2011)
- “Dren” from Rockne S. O’Bannon’s Farscape
- “Quiznak” from J. Dos Santos & L. Montgomery’s Voltron: Legendary Defender
- “Smeg” from Rob Grant and Doug Naylor’s Red Dwarf
- “Burn Me” from Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time
- “Slitch” from Robert A. Heinlein’s Friday
- “Yarbles” from Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange
- “Cuss” from Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox
- “Feth” from Dan Abnett’s Gaunt’s Ghosts from Warhammer 40k
- “Shazbot” from Garry Marshall’s Mork & Mindy and Dynamix’s Starsiege: Tribes
- “Seven Hells” from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire/Game of Thrones
- “Mudblood” from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series
- “Frak” from Glen A. Larson’s, Ronald D. Moore’s, & David Eick’s Battlestar Galactica
- “Jabber” from China Miéville’s Bas-Lag series
- “Storm it”/”Storms”/”Storming” from Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archives
Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made-up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.