My story is set in ancient Sumer, and I have a teenage (side) character who has a typical temperament meant to evoke his age. Had the setting been more modern, I would have had him use slurred together words like "Wassup?" and a light dose of slang. However, both of those may sound too modern for the age, and pull the reader straight out of the 2250 BC setting. I have gotten this feedback from a friend of mine before.

What can I do to alleviate this issue, and are there alternative tactics? I would also be interested in other ways to make teenagers sound teenage, that are independent of time setting.


1 Answer 1


As probably nobody is familiar with ancient sumerian slang, my best suggestion would be to invent some relevant speech patterns or idioms. (And, maybe, if the side character is very different from your MC, maybe these "teen slang" idioms confuse your MC/are a noticeable quirk of SC. Having your MC be unfamiliar to them how they speak makes sense, as the audience might not necessarily understand what he means immediately, either.)

I don't think there is a way to come up with slang like "Wassup" or "on fleek" or teen slang like that that will feel natural and accurate to the time period. But you could try "That's the best thing since the wheel!" (as a time-relvant comparison of "the best thing since sliced bread", for example, if that makes any sense, though the wheel might be a bit basic of a suggestion.)

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