Archive for the ‘Insults’ Category

Name that cellist

November 9, 2013

Yesterday’s Pearls Before Swine has Pig misunderstanding more expressions — this time a name:

Yo mama (literally ‘your mother’) is of course the beginning of ritual insults, and can stand on its own as a all-purpose insult.

Yo mama and Yo-Yo Ma are both built from the syllables yo and ma, in that order, with one of them doubled. So they are formally very similar.

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Trash talking

December 20, 2009

On the front page of the NYT sports section today: a piece (“The Last Word in Trash Talking”, by Greg Bishop) about Jets linebacker Bart Scott, who

talks trash freely and incessantly, all day, on any topic, on matters from petty to profound.

… Scott views trash talking as an art, or science. He has developed and refined his method. He has studied loquacious athletes [and pro wrestlers] from years past. And he has practiced, from the first day he tugged on a uniform all the way to Sunday, when he will unleash another torrent of mostly unprintable barbs on the Atlanta Falcons.

For Scott, trash talking is a weapon of intimidation, designed to throw opponents off balance. He starts with research on things he can use to distract them:

He scours ESPN, Google and scouting reports, which include pictures. He wants to understand the opponents he will talk to, understand what angers them, what makes them tick. He looks for police incidents, problems with wives or girlfriends, expanding stomachs, funny faces.

He then goes on to

mixing fact with fiction. Scott wants his barbs to be believable, but he often uses exaggerations, or lies disguised as truth, for maximum effect.

Scott is always prepared:

“I keep ammo on everybody, even if they never joked on me,” he said. “Because I will never be caught off-guard. No one will ever out-talk me. Ever.”

For obvious reasons, there aren’t many direct quotes in the story.

I don’t know if trash talking has been studied systematically, by sociolinguists, scholars of discourse, and the like. There’s a huge amount of material about verbal harassment, verbal abuse, and threats, but mostly from practical and legal standpoints.

Short shot #24: douchefag

November 30, 2009

A recent Language Log posting of mine on the rise of douche as an insult (directed at people) elicited a number of comments on the older, longer insult douchebag. And now (I suppose predictably) we have the portmanteau douchefag, which I came across in a feature in the December 2009 issue of Details magazine but which seems to have been around for a while.

(Details is aimed at cool guys, both straight and gay.)

The piece is entitled “The Rise of the Douchefag” — announced on the cover as “Introducing the G-Bag: A Guide to the Gay Douchebag” and summarized inside this way:

The fist-bumping, Bluetooth-wearing dude’s dude isn’t the only tool in the box. Meet the douchefag–a plucked, preened party boy who’s taken being gay to new depths of tackiness.

After that it’s a side-by-side snarky comparison between Gay and Gay Douchebag, with items like:

Bleaches teeth VS. Bleaches anus

Dead lifts to shape his butt VS. Buys shapewear to dead lift his butt

Buys a Beckham jersey on eBay VS. Buys Beckham’s underwear on eBay

Posts sleeveless pictures on Connexion VS. Posts pantsless pictures on Manhunt

It goes on and on.


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