kripke you are god

The Great SPN Meta Scavenger Hunt: Round 2  - The Exclamatories, Expletives and Key Words/Phrases Listicle

(or TL;DR - “Suck as it may, our perky nipples are defcon screwed with signs of douchery, so shut your cakehole, you whackjob, before I make your posh spice ass have a code brown moment and use you for an angel condom. Asshat.”)

[No abstract here because writing them is hard and f*ck that sh*t it is 4 am.]

Introduction:

Thanks to @elizabethrobertajones​ for kickstarting my “SPN Character Voice Database” project with this challenge. The verbal creativity and qualities of each character’s “voice’ has always been one of the things that has greatly entertained me about Supernatural. So, in attempting to write SPN fanfic, I am pretty obsessed about making character’s dialogue *sound* right. @chiisana-sukima​  and I were chatting recently about our struggles to ‘write’ the boys swearing convincingly (I make then swear lamely and she has to take swears out) and BOTH of us are struggling with making Sam swear right (tip – turns out, that’s because he doesn’t very much). [I think this is the presenting problem or sorta the research question, but again, 4 am and not getting paid so ;P]

In the spirit of scientific investigation, I have begun to address this problem in a typically “academic” way – I collected and analyzed unique character language patterns data for all 12 of the initial SPN episodes (using Excel and everything). Analysis consisted of *highly subjective* qualitative and quantitative methodologies using the rubric below (thanks to @k-vichan​ for the rubric framework from their “Dean the Action Hero” entry)

Review of Existing Research:

As far as I know – this research is unique in fandom – if someone has already done this, PLEASE let me know so I can do something ELSE with my time.

Definitions of Key Terms:

  • Exclamatory – ‘throw-away’ words which, if removed from the sentence, have no real effect – they are there for punctuation, character flavor, etc. and often start or end a sentence. Includes ‘pet words’ for people like son, boy, douche, Giraffe, etc. For my purposes, I did NOT count ah, well, alright or OK, because EVERYONE USES THEM ALL THE TIME in this show. Some words counted in this category ONLY if they were NOT used ‘correctly’ in context – examples (correct usage in brackets):  Hell (the place), God (the person/entity), hey (to get you to turn around), c’mon (to get you to come with someone) and man (to indicate a male person).
  • Expletive – swears, substitute swears and blasphemes (technically all exclamatories, but in a class by themselves). These were casually assigned ‘strength’ by how much I got in trouble for saying them when a kid (words like friggin’ were counted for strength as if they were the swear they replaced). We were not a religious family so blasphemes were all counted as lamer than more scatological swears.
  • Key Words and Phrases – Crack stuff said by characters that ‘define their voice’ – things that make them uniquely them. Fun phrases and sayings. Includes innocuous stuff like “Seriously?”, “You’ve gotta be kidding me,” and chick. Sometimes a colloquialism was counted, like ‘ain’t been’ because it seemed unique to the character. NOTE: Cas is a special case here – his entries tended to be overly formal words no one else ever really says OR cases where he starts to use human idioms at ALL.

Method:

Re-watched all initial episodes over the course of 5 days and recorded all entries in the above 3 categories by character, with extras grouped as a block. Then grouped all recurring characters of note in a “friends and family” group for easier analysis, creating 4 main groups: Dean, Sam, F&F and Xtras. These four groups were then analyzed in the following categories and assigned scores by one completely biased reviewer.

  • Quantity - actual # of items recorded across ALL characters. Repetitions were counted individually.
  • Variety - (scale of 1-5) measures how unique and interesting items are for this episode, as well as ‘strength’ of expletives.
  • Originality - 5 points per item that made me chuckle or raised my eyebrow the 1st time I watched the episode
  • Sam vs Dean - % of Sam items to Dean items as an integer.
    Sam hardly swears, so we want to give him lots of credit for when he DOES do so. This also serves as a measure of ‘balance’ in verbal creativity for the episode.
  • Family & Friends - (scale of 1-5) QVO (see above) across other core characters (+1 bonus point if Cas had ANY)
  • Xtras - (scale of 0-5) QVO across any Xtras
  • Impress me – 5 points per character whose performance REALLY stood out to me (purely subjective, don’t argue with the researcher)

Controlling for Bias:
@chiisana-sukima and I also discussed how the writer for each episode had a lot to do with language, so we’ve included that data in the results. Other items that may affect the data include a) how much silence there was built into the script, b) how MANY characters appeared in the episode, and c) how plot affected the character (Demon!Dean, Demon!Bobby, Leviathan!Cas, dead-hallucination Bobby-in-Sam’s-head, etc.). For my purposes, if they LOOKED and tried to ACT like the character, their words were categorized for that character. But, essentially, I didn’t sweat this stuff and did whatever I wanted, because no one is paying me, so there.

Results:

SO – no surprise this is stupidly long and full of illustrative screencaps. Read below the cut for the Fun stuff! {Oh, and pre-emptively: “Screw you, my math is perfect.”}

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