One thing I’ve noticed in SF series that annoys me is what I call Sudden Vocabulary Syndrome: characters accidentally getting their vocabulary retconned. Halfway into a trilogy the author decides it would be really cool if rabbits were called “smeerps”, and as of the start of Book Two everyone is saying “smeerp”, never acknowledging that Book One has several uses of “rabbit”. Or, a character coins the term “smeerp” to refer to those hoppy things with long ears she keeps seeing, and it catches on, and the author eventually forgets that this hasn’t always been the in-universe term. Even good, famous authors can fall victim to SVS:
– Around book 4 or so of The Dark Tower, Roland introduces his ka-tet to words like “ka-tet”. Fine. Except that from that book forward, ka-tet is suddenly such an integral part of his vocabulary and culture that it beggars belief that he hasn’t brought it up this whole time. (In fact, I used to call SVS the less-generic “Ka-Tet Syndrome”). “Palaver” becomes a reoccurring character at this point, too, and it’s at least just as jarring. Roland speaks English, and palaver is a legitimate if obscure English word. Even if for some reason he was deliberately not speaking about ka-tets until now, palavar should have been as much a normal part of his vocabulary as “hello” or “gunslinger”.
– In The Curse of Chalion, the first book of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Five Gods series, a man not having his soul taken up by the gods is a major, shocking event. The main character is all, “t-t-that’s impossible, I’ve never heard of anything like this before, if his soul’s not with the gods that must mean it’s floating around sundered somewhere” and when he finds out that ghosts exist he refers them as sundered, too.
Paladin of Souls, the second book, uses sundered also, but the MC is a character from the first book, she could have gotten it from the first MC, I’ll give her a pass. The fact that the priest she travels with knows about rites for helping dead people move on, I’ll give a pass to, too- sundering can be rare enough that the priesthood knows about it, but the average layperson doesn’t.
So. Book three, The Hallowed Hunt. It takes place in a different country, two hundred years before CoC. And everyone seems to know about sundering, and that after a certain amount of time it’s irreversible. The “t-t-that’s impossible” moment is about how it hasn’t happened in a certain case.
There’s also a series of Five Gods novellas about a shaman named Penric. Maybe four or five of them in, people start cursing using “sunder” in place of “damn”. I already thought the Penric stories felt phoned-in and inconsistent, but that was the point where I went, “[del]Dammit[/del] Sunder it, LMJ, really?”
– Brandon Sanderson decided that “cool” sounded too modern for The Stormlight Archive, and he needed a substitute. Unfortunately, he apparently came to this decision while writing Oathbringer, SA #3. First he put in a scene where two lower-class guys tell a sheltered upper-class lady that knives are “deevy”, and then have to explain to her what that means. Already I was wondering why none of the more rough-and-tumble characters had ever been seen using deevy before.
Then, near the end, a character named Lift uses deevy. Aside from the fact that we’ve seen Lift before, she’s from the other side of the continent than the knife guys. She speaks an entirely different language. Why would she use the same slang that they do?