Archive for the ‘Taboo language and slurs’ Category

From manure du jour to the Ascent of Man

June 19, 2015

It starts with today’s Bizarro, which turns out to have a history:

(#1)

The reporter challenges the presidential spokesman on the accuracy of his pronouncements, suggesting, with a euphemistic label that rhymes (in English), that it’s just bullshit.

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The Haddockian argot, and licorice

June 18, 2015

A recent Language Log posting by Mark Liberman (“Vigilance – Cleanliness”) reproduced a cartoon of Captain Haddock, Hergé’s character in Tintin, exclaiming nonsensically:

(#1)

That’s ‘thunder of/from Brest’ (the city in Brittany) and it’s not supposed to mean anything beyond exhibiting strong emotion in the Haddockian argot.

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Obscenicons

June 13, 2015

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm:

Ralph understands what symbols are, and even that in this context only symbols that aren’t alphanumerics count, but he hasn’t figured out that obscenicons are a conventional subset of these symbols.

Background on this blog in “The obscenicons vs. the grawlixes” of 8/1/10. Obscenicons are frequently discussed (as well as used) in cartoons; among the many examples on Language Log and this blog are a Zits and a Bizarro in this posting.

shag

May 3, 2015

Caught on tv, in the NCIS episode “Dead and Unburied” (#4.5) (2006). The team is examining a murder scene, studying the carpet intently:

Dr. Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard [the medical examiner]: Looks like sisal. It’s a naturally stiff fiber woven from the leaf of the cactus plant. It doesn’t matt, trap dust, build static, makes it ideal for carpeting. Personally, I prefer a good shag. [Gibbs and McGee just look at him while Palmer grins like a loon]

Ducky uses the noun shag referring to a type of rug, but everyone else hears the nominalization of the verb shag ‘fuck’. Merriment ensues.

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Armenian days

April 27, 2015

Some time ago I came to consciousness in the middle of the night to intriguing music from WQXR (classical music from NYC): a collage of melodies, many hauntingly semi-familiar. Hmm, Charles Ives? Not any Ives I recognized, and quieter and less assertive than you expect from Ives. Unfamiliar and charming.

Symphony No. 50 Mount St Helens by Alan Hovhaness. And that took me to Armenians in the U.S., especially to the west of Boston (near where I lived when I was in grad school); to the Armenian diaspora; and to the genocide, a hundred years ago, that triggered the dispersal of Armenians.

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Cluster Fucked

April 24, 2015

(Obviously heavy on taboo language, some of it about man-man sex, but no images. Use with caution.)

In mail today from TitanMen (the gay porn studio), an ad for the new video Cluster Fucked, about orgy scenes (and gangbangs). Samples on the TitanMen site for three group sex scenes, involving (for those of you who follow these things) pornstars:

Francois Sagat, Dean Flynn, Diesel Washington, CJ Madison, Brody Newport

Jason Branch, Jon Galt, Lance Gear, Nick Nicaste

Jessy Ares, Marco Wilson, Junior Stellano, Wilfried Knight

There are two senses for the noun clusterfuck or cluster fuck. From Urban Dictionary, in addition to the ‘orgy’ sense:

Military term for an operation in which multiple things have gone wrong. Related to “SNAFU” (Situation Normal, All Fucked Up”) and “FUBAR” (Fucked Up Beyond All Repair).

In radio communication or polite conversation ([e.g.,] with a very senior officer with whom you have no prior experience) the term “clusterfuck” will often be replaced by the NATO phonetic acronym “Charlie Foxtrot.”

And from the scholarly Jesse Sheidlower (3rd ed. of The F-Word), who doesn’t have Charlie Foxtrot:

  1. an orgy [from 1965 on]
  2. Military. a bungled or confused undertaking or situation; mess; (also) a disorganized group of individuals. [from 1969 on]

Both senses have the occasional variant Mongolian clusterfuck / cluster fuck.

The connection between the two senses? One clue is that a similar ambiguity arises for circle jerk ‘group masturbation scene’, ‘mess’ and some other items. From a posting of mine on 1/3/11:

Having just posted, on my X blog, on group sex in gay porn, I’ve returned to some material on circle jerk that I started collecting in 2004

… Tom Dalzell pointed out on ADS-L that HDAS (the Historical Dictionary of American Slang) has circle jerk ‘mess’ since 1973, and the compound seemed to him to be fairly common in that sense. And Doug Wilson noted a possible parallel to cluster fuck, goat fuck, pooch screw, etc. (especially in military contexts), in which “Instead of getting their job done, the participants are engaged in undisciplined,  undignified, useless activity: e.g., metaphorically, group sex or sex with animals.

Allusion

April 15, 2015

In Kevin Young’s April 12th NYT review of The Sellout by Paul Beatty, a comic novel on black life on the outskirts of Los Angeles:

There are more mentions of the N-word than on a Sigma Alpha Epsilon field trip. But like early Richard Pryor, Beatty seems to wish to take the word out of the shadows

The reclaiming of nigger is certainly of note, but this posting is about the allusion, to a Sigma Alpha Epsilon field trip. Either you get it or you don’t; it’s not something you can figure out.

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The power of foul language

April 10, 2015

Today’s Dilbert:

Alice’s swearing seems to have fried the boss’s brain: the power of words.

No WTF

April 10, 2015

Ellen Seebacher writes to note this piece of extremely ostentatious taboo avoidance in the NYT Style section on the 2nd, in Guy Trebay’s piece “Dear Winter Coat: Goodbye and Good Riddance”:

At issue … is the question of when that hopeful day [the first day of spring weather] will arrive. It snowed on the first day of spring on the East Coast and remained so cold for the week thereafter that Olive & Bette’s boutique on Madison Avenue posted a placard outside with a popular and unprintable three-letter Internet acronym. “After Tuesday even the calendar goes,” what the heck, or initials to that effect.

Ellen was astonished that the paper treats WTF as an unprintable obscenity: the initialism inherits the taboo status of the word the F stands for. It turns out the Language Log has been down this road.

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Sluts

April 3, 2015

Forwarded to me by Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky, this posting on tumblr, with:

She: What’s the boy word for slut?

He: hey still haven’t come up with one yet. But I’m sure they’re working on it.

The issue has often been taken up by feminist critics.

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