A Guide to Swearing in The Blacktongue Thief - Tor/Forge Blog
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A Guide to Swearing in The Blacktongue Thief

A Guide to Swearing in The Blacktongue Thief

When taking a trip to another country, it’s often a good idea to brush up on basic and useful elements of the region’s lingua franca. Much the same for touring the dangerous and magical lands within a fantasy novels, only there’s no need for ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ No, what’s most important are the BAD WORDS. Christopher Buehlman, author of The Blacktongue Thief—now available in trade paperback!—has very kindly provided a detailed guide on that most crucial part of fantasy language: SWEARING. Check it out here!

Buehlman_Blacktongue Thief_Galtish Swearing



The quite literally blacktongued sons and daughters of Galtia, a conquered province of Holt, may well call to mind the Irish, Welsh, or Scots of our own world. Like their otherworldly gaelic cousins, the Galts have a gift for language both sacred and profane. Here’s a taste of it: 

Kark (noun) 1. A wet fart 2. A devious or undesirable person. 3. An inconvenience or mess.

  • He’s a right kark, that one, I wouldn’t loan him a copper shave.
  • They were just mending things when he started bragging about all the women he might have had and made an utter kark of it.

To Kark (verb) 1. To soil oneself or one’s garments. 2. To ruin, to diminish something or someone. 3. To embarrass oneself; to lie, boast, or spout nonsense; to speak uninterestingly or repetitively; to fail.

  • Barran came over last night and drank so much burnwater he fell asleep on the supper bench and fair karked his britches.
  • You’ve karked your mother’s sword, letting it rust so.
  • I’ve listened to you kark long enough; you weren’t even there. 

Karkery (noun) 1. A clusterfuck, circus, catastrophe. 2. Shenannigans, foolishness.

  • The battle of Orfay was karkery of the worst sort; they ruined us.
  • Enough karkery, we have to finish these candles by week’s end. 

Sprumlet (noun) 1. A tuft of pubic hair. 2. An inconsequential person. 3. An endearment.

  • Hitch up your trousers, you’ve a sprumlet.
  • I won’t waste words on a sprumlet like yourself, go and fetch your mother.
  • You’re a good kisser, sprumlet, I think I’ll keep you.

Knap (noun) 1. A female or otherwise soft breast.

  • Since the bairns I can’t get my knaps in that corset.
  • He drinks so much beer he’s got knaps on him.

Kip (verb) 1. To peck (as a bird). 2.To engage in casual sex.

  • Yah, I kipped her, but I’m not looking for a moonwife.

Slipper (noun) 1. A coward; particularly one who ‘slipped the muster’ and hid, feigned disability, or intentionally became pregnant to avoid the carnage of the goblin wars. Note: Only use this to a person’s face if you’re ready to back it up with fists or a knife.

  • Both of her sisters went into the Regiment of Flails, but that slipper kipped riverboys to keep her belly round.
  • When the other lad took a poke at him, Mickle showed himself a slipper and beat heels.


CHRISTOPHER BUEHLMAN (he/him) is an author, comedian, and screenwriter from St. Petersburg, Florida. His novels include Those Across the River and The Suicide Motor Club, and his plays include The Last Neanderthals: A Paleolithic Comedy and Hot Nights for the War Wives of Ithaka. His latest book, The Blacktongue Thief, is on sale now.

Order The Blacktongue Thief Here:

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