10 Dialogue Verbs that Only Work in Parodies

After finishing my previous post about said bookisms, I was suddenly overwhelmed with ideas for further said-bookism-related writings. Thus, I determined to set out another, lighter list. The verbs here are bad, but they are in a special category of bad, one where the only response to such ridiculous wording is to burst out laughing.

When used seriously, these words kill the mood. But if used in a parody, they could be hilarious.

#10: Questioned

I put this one on the bottom of the list because it seems a bit subjective, but I do think it could be very funny if handled correctly. The thing about this word as a dialogue tag is that even though it’s technically a valid grammatical option, it reads like the author didn’t know any interrogative verbs and thus turned “question” into a verb to compensate. I know that that is in no way what it is, but for some reason that interpretation has stuck with me, and it makes me giggle a little every time I see this word in a dialogue tag. It could be pretty funny if someone wrote a parody of poor writing where they pretended it was the case by adding some bizarre malapropisms like “exclamationed” and “speeched.”

#9: Cajoled

I wasn’t really sure whether to include this one at first, because I thought it might be possible to use it effectively. Then I remembered that every time I’ve seen it used and not winced, it was in the prose rather than the dialogue tags. Even people with chronic cases of Thesaurus Syndrome seem to avoid having characters “cajole” their lines. Combined with the funny sound of the word, it makes for good parody material. Ideally, the writer would completely ignore all connotations of the word and just use it as a synonym for “said,” alongside several other bizarre and obscure words with funny phonemes.

#8: Verbalized

In contrast to the “it just sounds kind of funny” feel of the previous two entries, this one has more of a “so stilted and clinical that it’s funny” appeal to it. I can just imagine someone writing a parody of overly-technical styles where characters “verbalize,” “vocalize,” “communicate,” and “pronounce” their lines. For best results, combine with overly-verbose and bizarrely specific descriptions, such as calling puzzle pieces “interlocking cardboard chips” and giving a precise measurement of each character’s hair length.

#7: Dribbled

I have never seen this word in a dialogue tag, but thinking about it makes me picture the character melting. Perhaps it’s a mark of how strange my mind is that I find that funny. Since the connotations of the word are rather sappy, I think it would work well in a romance pastiche, mocking the drippy dialogue between the main couple. Just make sure to only apply it to really, really saccharine lines.

#6: Yakked

Oddly enough, I have seen this word used in a dialogue tag… in the infamously bad fanfic My Immortal. This may be a very strong argument for the “troll” side of the “real vs. trollfic” debate, because “yakked” is a silly verb, and I’m pretty sure that not even an incompetent fanfiction writer would use it seriously. It does have a really funny sound to it, though. Yakked. Yak yak yak! Say it with me, guys: yak! Yak yak yak! Yak yak yakkity yak yak yakked! Yak! Yak yak yak! You have now lost the ability to register “yak” as a legitimate word.

#5: Blubbered

In a bizarre twist of language, a great number of crying-related verbs sound kind of funny to me, largely because of their present-tense homonyms or homophones. “Bawl” sounds like “ball,” “wail” sounds like “whale,” and “blubber” is, of course… blubber. I think this one stands out to me because I register the noun “blubber” as a “sortamatopoeia”; that is, if whale blubber made a sound, “blubber” would be it.

#4: Exploded

In my previous post, I mentioned how the dialogue tag “burst out” made me picture the words bursting gruesomely from the character’s chest. This word is similar. Whenever a character “explodes” a line, I picture them literally exploding, often to hilarious effect. Seeing that effect used consciously in a parody would make me laugh my ass off.

#3: Enunciated

Though similar to “verbalized,” this word has a particular feel to it that I find inexplicably humorous. Just sit back from your computer for a moment and enunciate the word “enunciated.” For best results, make sure to overemphasize the stress a little more than strictly necessary. It sounds funny, right? Come on, this cannot be just me.

#2: Ululated

Ululation was a favorite joke of Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman in How NOT to Write a Novel, though even there it never ended up in a dialogue tag. Personally, I think this would be a great parody of the “sound” tags, e.g. “hissed” and “snarled.” While it is technically possible to hiss, snarl, moan, or sigh a line if the wording and length are suitable, I’m pretty sure it would be impossible to ululate a line… and since both the act of ululation and the word “ululate” seem to be funny in and of themselves, well, bonus!

#1: Ejaculated

Admit it: you knew this one was coming. Oddly enough, I’ve seen “ejaculated” in dialogue tags more than any other word on this list, except perhaps “questioned.” This is probably because some works can actually get away with it; that is, older ones, written before the word “ejaculated” was associated with, er, penile emission. However, despite its drop in commonality in the present day, it does make its way into modern stories; for example, I recall one particularly hilarious example from Harry Potter, where Professor Slughorn “ejaculated” Snape’s name. I love J. K. Rowling, but that was ridiculous. I suppose it just goes to show that even great writers can make the occasional goof. Really, the only place you should see “ejaculated” in the modern day is in a parody, especially a parody sex scene. Of course, if you aren’t writing parody, never use this verb anywhere close to the sex scene if you value your reader’s immersion.

10 of My Least Favorite Dialogue Verbs

Allow me to set a scene. A young aspiring novelist sits in their single-digit-grade classroom, listening intently to their teacher’s advice on writing effectively. One thing in particular stands out to them: the idea that they should vary their word choices. After all, who wants to read a piece full of generic terms like “really big” or “very bad?” Better by far to use interesting, attention-grabbing descriptions, like “enormous” or “terrible.”

Some time later, our young writer sits down to write a story. Eventually, they get to a section of dialogue and notice that the word “said” occurs pretty much every line. “This will not do!” they think, and begin coming up with ways to weed out the “said”s. By the end of the night, their dialogue looks something like this:

“But what if they catch us?” Amanda wondered.

Todd shrugged. “I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” he remarked.

“That’s just like you to say,” groaned Izzy. She twiddled her thumbs for a second, then added, “Amanda’s right. If the monitors catch us in the secret passage, we need a plan.”

Todd rolled his eyes, but mumbled, “Okay.”

“I think we should split up,” Amanda stated. “They’ll have a harder time following more than one —”

“Bad idea,” interrupted Kevin, looking up briefly from his Rubik’s cube. “That just gives them more chances to catch one of us.”

This, of course, is poor writing. Dialogue tags are not meant to draw the reader’s attention, but to point out who is speaking. The word “said,” which goes largely unnoticed by most readers, performs this job admirably, and its replacement often has unpleasant results. By placing attention-grabbing words in their dialogue tags, the writer essentially takes the reader’s focus away from their characters and puts them on the writing, and by extension themselves. Eventually, this adds up to make the writing look overwrought and the author pretentious.

In literary circles, such verbs are known as “said bookisms,” and generally regarded as a red flag for an amateur writer. Of course, the presence of said bookisms doesn’t mean a work is bad, but it usually indicates that the text is in need of an editor. There are, of course, places where unconventional verbs can be used effectively, but they should still be used sparingly… and some particular verbs should never be used at all.

So here, I present ten of my least favorite verbs to see in a dialogue tag. While the category of said bookisms also delves into adverbs and the occasional accompanying action, the verbs are usually the ones that slap me in the face.

#10:  Uttered

Hello, pretension. I seriously cannot read this word in a dialogue tag without rolling my eyes. I think the problem with it is that it’s always used to make whatever a character says IMPORTANT or DRAMATIC, which in turn makes me picture the characters chewing the scenery and milking the giant cow. If an author needs to force drama by putting “uttered” in the dialogue tags, they clearly aren’t doing their job right; and if the dialogue would be dramatic without the “uttered,” then there’s no reason for it to be there. “Stated” is similarly unnecessary, but somewhat less pretentious, as are “spoke” and “told.”

#9: Grunted

It was difficult to figure out which “noise” dialogue tag to put here. “Hissed” is a common example of a much-abused dialogue tag, but there are at least cases of it being used appropriately. “Snorted” is roughly the same, although it is much more difficult to find its good instances. “Grunted,” on the other hand, is one that I don’t think I’ve ever seen used well, because how exactly does one “grunt” a line? Like “gasped,” “grunted” could only really work on a monosyllable; however, the act of grunting seems like it would drown out pretty much anything.

#8: Burst Out

I actually read this in a published work once. The resulting facepalm left my forehead aching for several minutes. “Blurted out” and “forced out” are bad enough, but they at least sound like something you could do with dialogue, and could be okay in the right circumstances. “Burst out,” on the other hand, makes me picture the words erupting from the character’s chest in a shower of gore, like the xenomorph in Alien. It’s pretty much impossible to take it seriously.

#7: Proclaimed

Pop quiz: is your character a political figure enacting a new law or making an important announcement? If not, don’t use “proclaimed,” and if so, no, the answer is still “don’t use ‘proclaimed.'” This fits in with “uttered” as a word often used to force drama, but has the added benefit of making your dialogue sound like a legal brief. Other words with the same effect include “disclosed,” “alleged,” “attested,” and “notified.” “Announced” is in a similar category, but as much as I hate it, there is very occasionally at least some excuse for that one.

#6: Trilled

This particular bookism may be somewhat subjective, because for me, it comes with an association. I have almost always seen this verb used for dialogue from a character type I absolutely despise: the annoyingly perky girl whose author was aiming for The Pollyanna or a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but missed the mark and created a caricature straight out of the Valley of Saccharine Hell. Trilling one’s lines seems to be a symptom. Other verbs to watch out for include “chirped,” “chimed,” and “lilted.”

#5: Chortled

I considered several “laughing your lines” verbs for this slot. I’m not entirely sure how one goes about laughing, chuckling, chortling, giggling, cackling, or snickering a line, especially if said line is longer than a few words and still easily understood by the surrounding characters. I think the factor that made “chortled” stand out is the fact that it’s just a weird, unappealing word. This is the kind of word that won’t just pull a reader out of the scene to roll their eyes at the over-embellished dialogue tags; this is the kind of word that will make a reader cringe.

#4: Realized

If your character realizes things out loud, that’s fine, but please don’t state it outright like this. Using “realized” as a line of dialogue is basically a sneaky way of telling rather than showing. Give us a facial expression or a character tic: a flash of the eyes, a sudden smile, or a wave of one hand as the realization hits. The same goes for tags like “remembered” or “recalled.”

#3: Averred

This one represents the category of “words that at least 90% of your readers will have to look up in the dictionary.” It’s annoying enough when an author uses such words in their prose; using them in the dialogue tags as well is just crass. Other words in this category include “demurred,” “asseverated,” “expostulated,” “descanted,” “promulgated,” “hectored,” “expatiated,” “adduced,” “propounded,” and “remonstrated.”

#2: Smirked

Nobody can smirk a line of dialogue. They also cannot sneer, grin, flutter, smile, frown, cringe, grimace, or shrug said line. If you’re going to use an unconventional verb in your dialogue tag, it should at least be a verb that can be used for speech. At least “chortled” and “grunted” are sounds.

#1: Hesitated

At this point, I wish to make a statement: while not all of the “other examples” I have mentioned are things I have seen in published works, the headliners are. So yes, I have seen this dialogue tag “in the wild,” and not just in a published novel, but in a bestselling one. I suppose that goes to show that “bestselling” does not mean “best quality,” because I’m pretty sure that this became a dialogue tag on account of a typo… or at least, I would like to think it did. The fact that it happened more than once might throw a wrench in that theory. Regardless, I don’t think anyone reading this has to be told why “hesitated” is a terrible dialogue tag. To add to the horror, I have seen this same mistake made with “paused.”

Why I Won’t Self-Publish

With the sudden proliferation of ebooks in the past decade, the doors have been opened wide to authors who wish to self-publish. Many who could never afford to have their book physically printed have been able to publish their books with minimal difficulty. Adding to the appeal of online self-publishing is the fact that most companies, such as Amazon and CreateSpace, offer the authors a much higher percentage of the royalties than traditional publishing companies.

There are, of course, success stories. The Martian started out as a series of posts on the author’s blog, which was later compiled into an ebook and released online. It was then picked up by a publishing company, and went on to inspire a big-budget movie that raked in over 500 million dollars in profits. Fifty Shades of Grey began life as Twilight fanfiction, until its writer changed the names, self-published it as an ebook, and was, again, later picked up by a mainstream company. While its reception was notably cooler (and, in my opinion, for good reason), it still pulled in a ridiculous amount of cash. The Inheritance Cycle began with Christopher Paolini’s parents creating their own publishing company to self-publish his book, before it was, yet again, picked up by a big-name mainstream publishing company. Its movie was, er, less lucrative, but nonetheless got made.

However, when it comes to my writing, I absolutely refuse to self-publish.

What I want to make absolutely clear at the outset is that this is not a simple case of garden-variety snobbery. I don’t consider myself above self-publishing, nor do I consider self-published works to be automatically bad. I may detest Fifty Shades of Grey, its sequels, and its movies with the burning intensity of an O-type blue supergiant, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Martian, both the book and the movie. Heck, did you guys know that The Joy of Cooking was originally self-published? My family and I make recipes out of that book all the time; it’s fantastic.

That said, there is a correlation between self-publishing and a noticeable lack of polishing. Self-published works often hit print without getting the attention of a professional editor. At best, the author gets beta readers and takes their suggestions to heart. At worst, the book is almost completely unedited, and tumbles forth into the world seething with errors.

In many cases, such books were largely unsalvageable even before you factored in the grammatical errors: hackneyed plots, aimless author tirades, etc. However, the examples of self-publishing that really make me sad are the ones that had potential. These are writers who have laid out an interesting plot with distinctive characters and a well-thought-out world, but lack the technical ability to bring it to life without a thousand grammatical errors along the way. With a bit of help from a professional editor and a good few rounds of rewriting, these books could be really good, and that’s what makes me sad.

Basically, this kind of book is the literary equivalent of a premature baby.

I actually happened upon one of these earlier this month. I had recently become acquainted with the YouTube channel Terrible Writing Advice, which I absolutely loved. I highly recommend it; the guy clearly knows his tropes, and it’s fun to watch him mercilessly mock overused characters, settings, and plot devices.

The guy who made the channel, J.P. Beaubien, self-published his book. Out of curiosity, I bought it. I had not been aware of the book’s self-published nature beforehand, but as soon as I opened up the Kindle edition and started reading, I could see it clearly as day.

Aeon Legion: Labyrinth is a book that I desperately want to love. It has interesting themes, a rather good plot, some nice Take Thats at overused tropes, female characters who are actually written as people rather than “x type female character,” and freaking Ancient Greece references everywhere. It hits all my soft spots dead-on! But it has not been sufficiently edited, and it shows.

I want to love this book, but I can’t, because every time I read it the grammatical errors jump out of the page and slap me in the face. One thing that particularly annoys me is Beaubien’s apparent aversion to hyphens, which results in such constructions as “clean shaven” rather than “clean-shaven,” and “pear shaped” rather than “pear-shaped.” I suppose this wouldn’t be such a problem for people who don’t have the same grammar hang-ups as I do, but the point here is that if this book had gone through the editing and rewriting process inherent in traditional publishing, these mistakes would not be there.

Ultimately, most of my reluctance to self-publish comes from the fact that I want my books to get all the professional polishing they need before releasing them to the reading public. I know that I’m a good writer. I’ve been told such by friends, family, teachers, and peers alike, and my history of high scores on tests of writing ability back all of them up. I scored 800 on the verbal and writing sections of the SAT, for Athena’s sake. But that does not give me license to let my book pass into the world unedited. If anything, it means that I should be even more cautious, because overconfidence can be truly fatal to one’s prospects for success.

Another reason I’d like to avoid self-publishing has to do with marketing. I am good at writing and coming up with ideas. I can spend hours in my room coming up with languages and sketching out minutely detailed maps of my fantasy nations. However, I am not good at marketing. My brief attempt at being a Let’s Player is proof enough of that; I never broke twenty subscribers. Publishing my book through a company would not only ensure that it gets professionally edited, but that it gets marketed by people who know what they’re doing. To me, that’s worth a chunk off the royalties.

If you’ve written a book and you want to self-publish it, I won’t stop you. I would, however, encourage you to think long and hard about whether it’s the best thing for your book. Sometimes, we really do need the company’s help.

I’m Pretty Sure Rowling Didn’t Read “Cursed Child”

It’s the only way I can preserve my opinion of her as a good writer, really. I know she outlined the thing, but there’s no way she gave it a once-over after the playwrites were done with it.

Considering how much I loved Harry Potter throughout my child- and teenhood, I suppose it’s somewhat surprising that I haven’t looked into Harry Potter and the Cursed Child until recently. I only had the vague ideas of “it’s a play,” and “Rowling didn’t actually write it herself.” At this point, I know that she provided an outline, which the playwrites used to write… this. I can only assume that the outline was very bare-bones, because the story of this play is utterly confused, and a lot of the plot points and reveals are bizarre in the extreme.

I think I’ll break down some of my issues with this into parts. Yes, this will contain spoilers.

How Many Plots Can You Have?

Go read a summary of this play, if you think you have the plot-discerning abilities. I’ll wait.

Right. You’re done? Okay, on a scale of one to ten, please rate how convoluted that plot was. Personally, I’ll give it about an eight. It’s not on the level of Lost, but it’s pretty bizarre.

This is quite inherent in time-travel plots, but it goes beyond that. We have, besides the time-travel, plots about school politics, family dynamics in the Potter household, family dynamics in the Malfoy household, Harry and Draco interacting as adults, a new Death Eater plot, and a completely unforeshadowed and canon-breaking character who I cannot imagine J.K. Rowling ever thinking was a good idea.

All these plots would be confusing enough in a novel, but in a play they are absolutely insane. Forget the whole “part one” and “part two” issue; I’m surprised there aren’t at least five “parts” to this thing!

Harry Potter + Play = Highly Impractical

Building off of the point above, I am utterly confused as to how you could go about portraying Harry Potter onstage. I’ve heard that the tickets to the original London show cost about £800, which, while exorbitant, isn’t exactly surprising, because the special effects budget for this play must be absolutely massive.

Sorting That Makes No Sense

Scorpius Malfoy should be a Ravenclaw. I know that a significant part of the plot is dismantling the house stereotypes, and that not everyone bookish goes into Ravenclaw (just look at Hermione Granger!), but I cannot see any traditionally-Slytherin traits in this kid. I can, however, see a metric shit-ton of Ravenclaw. Any character who says the line “my geekness is a-quivering,” as absolutely cringe-worthy as that line is, has no business being anywhere BUT Ravenclaw. Sure, he’s a Malfoy, but blood doesn’t have to dictate your house. Heck, just look where Albus ends up.

Not that that makes any more sense, though. Remember that epilogue in Deathly Hallows, where Albus was telling James “no, no, I won’t be in Slytherin”? That bit  He sounded utterly horrified. Now, consider how much the Sorting Hat considered putting Harry in Slytherin. Harry said “not Slytherin, not Slytherin,” and the hat listened. It does take the student’s choice into account. So, with the idea of his family’s disapproval hanging over him, how the hell did Albus not end up requesting “not Slytherin,” and if he did, why would the Sorting Hat ignore him?

Heck, I’m Just Gonna Blockquote This…

“Albus Severus,” Harry said quietly, so that nobody but Ginny could hear, and she was tactful enough to pretend to be waving to Rose, who was now on the train, “you were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin, and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew.”

“But just say —”

“— then Slytherin House will have gained an excellent student, won’t it? It doesn’t matter to us, Al. But if it matters to you, you’ll be able to choose Gryffindor over Slytherin. The Sorting Hat takes your choice into account.”

“Really?”

“It did for me,” said Harry.

*stares pointedly at Cursed Child*

The Dialogue Is So Bad

Remember that “my geekness is a-quivering” line I mentioned earlier? It’s not the worst line in the play. The dialogue here is clunky and bizarre, and I can only hope that the actors ad-lib a bit when they perform this.

What Have You Done To Hermione?

I’m actually fairly okay with Hermione in the main timeline. I’m not a huge fan of the Hermione/Ron ship, but I’m not a Harmonian either, so as long as it makes some sense, I don’t really have a vested interest in who she ends up with. I love the idea of her becoming Minister of Magic, because she absolutely could, and a damn good one at that.

One thing I am quite surprised by is the idea that she would have children before the age of thirty. I understand that wizards come of age at seventeen, but that’s only one year before the rest of us, and the average age at first birth is somewhere in the late twenties. I can’t really picture Hermione being an early mom, even if she is married to a Weasley. Still, that’s more of a quibble with the epilogue, and we’re not here to quibble with the epilogue, we’re here to quibble with Cursed Child.

In the first alternate timeline, Hermione goes from being Minister of Magic to being a grumpy, student-hating Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. I cannot picture this at all. I could picture Hermione becoming a professor, but there is absolutely no way that she would be that mean, and even less way that she would be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts. That was her worst class, for fuck’s sake! It was the only O.W.L. on which she didn’t get an “Outstanding” grade. If Hermione became a professor, I would expect her to teach Charms or Arithmancy, which are her favorite subjects in the books, or perhaps Transfiguration.

What makes it worse, though, is that the reason given for this change of future is that she didn’t marry Ron and have Rose and Hugo. This is just utterly baffling to me, not to mention how ridiculously sexist it sounds. Hermione Granger is perfectly capable of pursuing her goals on her own. Furthermore, as you may have garnered from my above comments, I never got the impression that marriage and family were anywhere near her first priorities. This is absolutely out of character, and I cannot stand it.

This kind of thing makes me wonder whether the playwrites have actually read the Harry Potter books. It also is one of my reasons for believing that Rowling didn’t edit Cursed Child, because if she did, why the bloody hell would she leave THIS BULLSHIT in?

Speaking of Careers…

Harry being an Auror makes a bit more sense. However, I honestly would have liked to see him become a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Remember how awesome he was at teaching Dumbledore’s Army back in Order of the Phoenix? He’s clearly got a great deal of talent as an educator; it’s a pity to see that go to waste. Oh well, maybe he’ll go back to teaching once he’s got some Auror-ing under his belt.

Ron, though… I’m not sure exactly what they were doing with his career history. I suppose I can understand him going to work at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes somewhat, but it still seems kind of odd to me.

Honestly, I think a Ronald Weasley career progression that would have made me happy would be if he overcame his stage fright/performance anxiety and went on to play Keeper for the Chudley Cannons, especially if his mad skills brought them their first win since 1892. Harry might have better prospects in professional Quidditch, considering how talented he was as a Seeker, but I honestly can’t see him going for that as a career choice. Ron, though… I could absolutely see it.

Literally Everything To Do With Delphi

Here it is, folks. The moment you’ve all probably been waiting for. The moment when I discuss the character who made thousands of fans slam the book shut with an enraged cry of “BULLSHIT” and proclaim Cursed Child to be nothing more than glorified fanfiction.

Delphi Diggory/The Augurey/Delphini Riddle is the daughter of Bellatrix Lestrange and Lord Voldemort. That already sounds like the description of a character from a fanfic. The livejournal community Pottersues lists a staggering 153 fics involving a Sue who is related to Voldemort, most of which are rated “Toxic” on the Sue-O-Meter. Further cementing Delphini’s Sue-ness is her unusual hair (silver and blue) and her apparent irresistibility to certain male characters. She pretty much comes off as a poorly-written Villain Sue that should be languishing unread in a fanfiction.net portfolio that hasn’t been opened since the writer was thirteen years old.

I honestly have no idea how this character ended up in canon. If Rowling thought her up, then what the bloody hell was she thinking? All evidence in the novels suggests that though Bellatrix is completely obsessed with Voldemort, the Dark Lord himself has no interest in sex or reproduction. That’s a good thing, too, because who the fuck wants to think about the words “sex” and “Voldemort” in the same sentence? I guess you might if you have a kink for noseless guys, or if you’re in a very specific niche of the “scaly” section of the furry fandom, but for most people, this is… NO. Just… NO.

I’m not saying that there is no circumstance in which this character might work, but all of them would involve radically changing her backstory. For instance, if she wasn’t actually Voldemort and Bellatrix’s daughter, but had been raised to think she was by Death Eaters in need of a figurehead, that would be absolutely fascinating. It wouldn’t break canon, and it would show off exactly how insane the Death Eaters who raised her were, that they took this kid and built her up as the heir to their leader’s legacy, making her think that all these horrible things that Voldemort did were good and that she should aspire to continue his work.

Likewise, if Bellatrix had actually had a child with her husband Rodolphus, but presented the child as Voldemort’s out of her twisted love for him, that could have been interesting as well. It would have shown how deep her insane obsession went.

Alternately, if you really wanted to stick with Voldemort and Bellatrix as her actual biological parents, why not have this be entirely Bellatrix’s idea? Since Voldemort is completely uninterested in things like children and *gag* sex, have Bellatrix impregnate herself via magic. It’d be bizarre and creepy, but since when is Bellatrix Lestrange anything other than bizarre and creepy? Plus, the magical nature of Delphi’s conception could then be used to explain her odd hair color. It would make far more sense! Heck, this one could even work with the plot of the play, where the clinching factor in establishing Delphini as Voldemort’s daughter is the fact that she speaks Parseltongue.

Moving on, we can also discuss the fact that Delphi’s bizarre backstory not only breaks canon in terms of warping characters OOC, but also in terms of raising a rather inconvenient question: when the fuck was Bellatrix pregnant?

Bellatrix Lestrange escaped from Azkaban in January of 1996, and died in the Battle of Hogwarts on May 2, 1998. The fanmade Harry Potter wiki further notes that Delphini was conceived after the battle of the Department of Mysteries, which occurred in mid-June of 1996. This gives us a window just shy of two years.

Now, we must factor in Bellatrix’s stated positions and in-text appearances. Her appearance with Narcissa early in Half-Blood Prince is irrelevant; it occurred in July of 1996, so if she was pregnant at the time, she certainly wouldn’t have been showing. Bellatrix apparently taught Draco Malfoy Occlumency for the rest of that summer, as evidenced by Snape and Malfoy’s conversation on Christmas. Bellatrix’s next appearance comes in Book 7, where she joins her master and fellow Death Eaters in attempting to attack Harry while he is moved out of the Dursleys’ house. She is not visibly pregnant during this battle. She does not appear again until the trio are brought to Malfoy Manor in March of 1988, at which point she is, again, not visibly pregnant.

Thus, we have something of a window: Bellatrix must have been pregnant at some point during Book 6, where we don’t see her. The problem with this is that she spends most of this time in Malfoy Manor, where Draco and Lucius would have noticed her becoming pregnant and giving birth. I would be willing to accept an explanation that has her magically hiding her pregnancy, but if that’s the case, I would really like to know about it. Yes, I do complain about writers leading their audiences by the nose, but there is a certain point of “you can infer it” that just gets really annoying, and “to patch a Fridge Logic hole” is right about it.

I could also touch on Bellatrix’s age (mid-to-late forties), but that seems unnecessary at this point. Plus, it’s entirely possible for a woman to not enter menopause until her fifties… even if she did spend a lot of time in Azkaban, where the terrible conditions could wreak havoc with one’s reproductive system.

Back to the other side of the family, I’m not sure why Voldemort would allow his child to exist, even if he did have any interest in creating one. Voldemort wants power and immortality. Having a person walking around who could reasonably claim to be his heir would thus be extremely counterproductive to everything he aspires to. If Voldemort was trying to rule the world with Delphini running around, he would constantly have to worry about her attempting to gain some of his power, or even usurp it if she got ambitious enough. From Voldemort’s sociopathic perspective, it would be far better to just kill her.

Finally, I want to take a moment to quibble with this character’s name. I suppose “Delphini” is fine; going with the Black family theme naming, it’s a shortening of the constellation Delphinius. However, her nickname of “Delphi” is utterly bizarre. I understand that there’s the connection with future-telling, which connects her to her alter ego of “the Augurey,” but the name “Delphi” actually comes from the ancient Greek word “δελφύς,” which means “womb.” It may only be a nickname, but having a female character whose name literally means “womb” makes me incredibly uncomfortable.

In Conclusion

Remember that godawful Spider-Man musical? The one that gave several actors injuries and was pretty much a laughingstock of Broadway? This feels like the Harry Potter equivalent of that, although perhaps less of a disaster physically.

I don’t think I’ll ever see this play performed.

Grammatical Analysis of Trump Tweets

WARNING: CONTAINS POLITICS

In what is perhaps an ill-advised action, I just spent a little bit of time scrolling through Donald Turpis’s twitter page. It was a bizarre experience, kind of like looking into the mind of someone who can only think in the language of advertisements and possesses views that could be charitably described as “archaic.” Of course, I do not tend to be charitable when discussing the Terrible Toupee-Beast, so I would characterize them as “stupid, ill-informed, racist, misogynistic, bigoted, and generally horrible.” The poor grammar is basically the piss icing on a cake of shit.

A quick disclaimer before we begin: as I find it impossible to combine the words “Trump” and “President” without becoming violently ill, I will be referring to Donald Turpis by a variety of creative euphemisms throughout this piece. (Turpis, by the way, is a wonderful Latin word meaning “foul, ugly, base, and/or shameful.” It’s basically a catch-all negative that catches all of Trump’s identifiable traits. If you want to be particularly uncharitable, consider swapping it out for the superlative, “Turpissimus.”)

One annoying tendency of this offspring of the Annoying Orange and a Troll doll is that he loves to end his Tweets with an exclamation point. I’m not going to go through his entire Twitter page to do an exact count, because that would take aeons, but if I had to guess, I’d say it’s probably just over half of them. Often, the exclamation is applied to a single word, which appears like an extra hashtag at the end of the Tweet. “Jobs!” he shoves in, after rambling about his economic policy. This, of course, results in some of the hallmarks of Trump tweets, e.g. “Sad!” and the recent staple “FAKE NEWS!”

America’s least intelligent half-domesticated orangutan also hits on one of my personal pet peeves: rampant misuse of the em-dash, often using a hyphen in its place. I have already written about my distaste for the em-dash, but in that post, I neglected to mention how doubly annoying it is when a hyphen or en-dash is incorrectly substituted for an em-dash. It effectively takes one of my grammatical Berserk Buttons and multiplies, no, exponentiates it.

Of course, these aren’t the only grammar failures that America’s number one racist grandpa commits regularly. He bifurcates words, sometimes with a space (e.g. “main stream” instead of “mainstream,” “business women” instead of “businesswomen”) and sometimes with a hyphen (e.g. “non-sense” instead of “nonsense”). He often leaves out spaces after ellipses, sometimes leaves them out before or after his hyphen-dashes, and occasionally even misses them between words… only to have them show up in other tweets, where there are extra spaces. Speaking of ellipses, some of his have extra dots. Worst of all, though, is the way he will occasionally seem to shift subjects in the middle of a sentence. These particular lapses in grammar are to the point where I’m not entirely sure what, precisely, went wrong. Perhaps he had to edit the thought to keep it within the character limit and clarity suffered for it… or perhaps he lost his train of thought halfway through, like he always does when he talks.

Finally, the style of his tweets can only be described as “advert-esque.” Emphasis is dropped haphazardly with no regard for how its overuse will dull its effect, and description is confined to generalities and superlatives. In the world of America’s sentient sack of crooked money, nothing is ever “kind of bad.” It’s either just generally “bad” or “A DISASTER.”

As an illustration of Donald Turpis’s terrible grammar and bizarre style, I present you with the text of this tweet, posted on February 20th. To avoid popping a blood vessel, I’ll just focus on the grammar and do my best to ignore the atrocious content.

Give the public a break – The FAKE NEWS media is trying to say that large scale immigration in Sweden is working out just beautifully. NOT!

This gem does not contain all of our first Cheeto president’s grammatical failings, but it does contain a good number of them, and could benefit greatly from a good look by an editor. So, let’s pick it apart!

Firstly, “give the public a break” is an odd turn of phrase. I understand what he was trying to do here, but when you say something similar to a common saying, you run the risk of sounding like you don’t speak English. Plus, I’m pretty sure that most of the public would like a break from YOU, Donald, not from the “fake news media.”

We then get a hyphen-dash. This should, of course, be an em-dash, though my own personal idiosyncrasy would lead me to recommend an exclamation point, ending the sentence without the need for said em-dash. That would also eliminate the need to get rid of that capitalization on “the,” because it would at least be beginning a new sentence. As-is, it’s a random and ungrammatical capitalization.

Of course, then we get the entirely-capitalized “FAKE NEWS.” This is intended to be for emphasis, but considering how often Mr. Monopoly’s tacky uncle uses CAPSLOCK in his tweets, it really isn’t that emphatic. Overuse of capslock just makes one look like a blowhard, which in this case is fair, since the Drumpf is a blowhard.

The rest of the sentence is largely okay grammar-wise. Then, of course, the bloated orange sea cucumber goes and tacks on a “NOT!”

These guys have, like, the BEST hair compared to Donald Toupee.
Very hip with the kids, Donald.

Yeah, I think that speaks for itself.

My conclusion? Before anyone runs for president, they should be tested for grammatical competence. Any leader of our country ought to have far better communication skills than Donald Turpis has displayed.