Archive for the ‘Taboo language and slurs’ Category

Knob in a red top

March 18, 2015

On Facebook yesterday, Chris Waigl posted the beginning of this story from the (UK) Independent, dated today:

James May calls Jeremy Clarkson a ‘k**b’ after Top Gear star suspended by BBC

Top Gear presenter James May has defended his co-presenter Jeremy Clarkson following his suspension, by calling his colleague “a k**b” but saying he “quite likes him.”



January 24, 2015

Passed on to me, this 2007 Phil Selby cartoon:


A take-off on door-to-door evangelizing, by (in particular) Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, using the pun Jesuscheeses to move things to the world of mice, who are famously fond of cheese.


Taboo time in Paris

January 15, 2015

On the 13th in the NYT, a piece by Rachel Donaldo on the news from Paris: on-line, “Charlie Hebdo’s New Issue Features Muhammad on Cover”, in the print edition, “Still Mourning, but Printing a New Provocation: Muhammad on the Cover”, with a section on Gérard Biard, one of the satirical paper’s top editors:

As the newsroom sprang to life on Friday afternoon, Mr. Biard reflected. “They killed people who drew cartoon characters. That’s it. That’s all these guys do. If they’re afraid of that,” what’s their god?, he asked, inserting an expletive for emphasis.

Presumably the interview was in French, translated here for an American readership, so the inserted expletive would have been foutu and not fucking.

I tried to check how this was reported in the French press, and couldn’t find anything with a reference to the attackers’ god, with or without an expletive (though I did listen to a pretty long interview with Briard). But maybe I just missed it.

My puzzle about the NYT version is not the suppressed expletive — that’s just Timesian modesty, often commented on in this blog — but why the paper chose to mention the expletive at all, when it doesn’t seem to me to add anything to the story. So the paper ended up calling attention to the expletive they chose not to print.

Annals of euphemism

December 20, 2014

A Clive Goddard cartoon from the January 2015 Funny Times:

On the left, a woman shopping for products to use during menstruation, euphemistically called sanitary products. On the right, an unsavory guy shopping for god-knows-what — but whatever it is, it’s unsanitary ‘unclean’.


Kicked in the mascot

December 12, 2014

Today’s Mother Goose & Grimm:

The Mascots — Ronald McDonald, Colonel Sanders, Tony the Tiger, Yellow the M&M, and Cap’n Crunch — view their fallen teammate, Mr. Peanut, with dismay.


Press release modesty

December 5, 2014

From Sim Aberson, a link to an NPR story of December 3rd: “The Ant’s Pants? Oxford Dictionaries Adds 1,000 New Terms” by Bill Chappell, The overview:

With terms like mahoosive and al desko, the editors of say they’ve made the largest quarterly update in their history, adding definitions for 1,000 words.

We’ll clarify that while the digital service is affiliated with Oxford University, it’s officially separate from the venerable dictionary.

The new additions range from pop culture (“xlnt” and “permadeath”) to business-speak (“algorithmic trading”).

And they include three definitions with taboo avoidance in them:

ish, n.: (US informal) used as a euphemism for ‘sh–t’

PMSL, abbrev.: (vulgar slang, chiefly Brit.) p–ing myself laughing (used to express great amusement)

WTAF, abbrev.: (vulgar slang) what the actual f–

Not NPR’s doing: the list on their site is taken verbatim from the press release.

But on the actual site (assembled by lexicographers), the definitions use the taboo vocabulary: shit, pissing, fuck. The modesty is for press releases. Just in case children or the easily offended are reading the releases, I suppose.

It happens

November 14, 2014

From Ann Burlingham, a piece of modest taboo avoidance in her own home town of Perry NY. In the Daily News (Genesee, Wyoming, and Orleans (NY) Counties) today: “It happens: Stolen car found in Perry manure lagooon”, beginning:

Perry — A car reported stolen Monday from Creative Food Ingredients, 1 Lincoln Ave., was recovered Friday morning from a manure lagoon of a Perry farm.

Another contribution to the variations on the formulaic expression shit happens. Earlier entrants:

“X happens” of 7/11/11: Chick Happens, Lit Happens

“More X happens” of 8/5/11: Sit Happens [of a dog]

“SOS” of 8/19/11: Ship Happens [a sinking ship]

[Added 11/15: pit happens would have been a possible caption for the Perry photo. Plenty of other possibilities more widely afield: wit happens (cf. lit happens); Schick happens [the razor]; fit happens [in a gym]; nit happens [lice]; Mitt happens [Romney]; etc.]

Giving offense, or the Right to Trample

October 26, 2014

The most recent Wondermark:

Giving and taking offense is a very complex matter, but this strip mocks an extreme case, where someone straightforwardly behaves with contempt for others, including using slurs. And then complains that those who take offense are threatening his rights.

Flashers abroad

October 11, 2014

This seems to be Sex Saturday, though I have plenty of other things I’m anxious to post about today. But here goes, with a story from the weekend edition of the (San Francisco Mid-Peninsula) Daily Post, headlined: “Cops: Flasher strikes again: Fourth incident in a week” (by Angelo Ruggiero). About a flasher (possibly more than one) operating locally.

One recurrent feature of the Post‘s stories is the euphemism pleasure onself for masturbate (itself a technical or medical term avoiding genuinely vernacular expressions). As here, from today’s story:

The women, in their 20s, looked out the window [of Peet’s Coffee in Belmont] onto El Camino and saw a man parked at the curb and pleasuring himself, said Capt. Pat Halleran [of the local police].


Two from Out

September 20, 2014

Yesterday, it was The Advocate; today, it’s another LPI publication, Out (or OUT) magazine, again with two pieces of interest for this blog in the latest (October 2014) issue: one on straightsplaining, one on gay bookstores.



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