Archive for the ‘Taboo language and slurs’ Category

Using an ethnic slur

November 23, 2015

Once again, the New York Times has tip-toed around a taboo word or (in this case) slur by paraphrasing a speaker, while signaling that the speaker used an item banned from the paper.

This time, it came in the story “Ben Carson Is Struggling to Grasp Foreign Policy, Advisers Say” by Trip Gabriel, which quotes Duane R. Clarridge, former CIA agent and adviser to Carson:

“Russian special forces are staying in the Titanic Hotel in Sulaymaniya,” the operative said, according to notes recorded by [Carson’s top adviser Armstrong] Williams. “They frequent an Irish pub in the hotel bar.”

“The jump from Erbil and Soviets [by which Clarridge must have meant Russians]” to the Chinese in Damascus “is a long leap,” Mr. Clarridge said, using an ethnic slur for the Chinese.

Two things here:


Clean underwear

November 6, 2015

A recent tv commercial ‘Clean Underwear’ for Charmin Ultra Soft toilet paper, featuring the four Charmin bears and their mother, skirts direct mention of feces stains on underwear (colloquially referred to euphemistically as skidmarks), while including a very slightly concrealed allusion to skids. A performance that some viewers found funny-cute and others found offensive. By going to this site, you can access a video of the commercial that loops through the thing again and again, until you shut it off.


Bullshido, bullshtein, and cork soakers

November 4, 2015

(All sorts of taboo language and sexual references.)

So I posted a brief notice of Mark Peters’s recently published bullshit lexicon, noting in passing the euphemism bullshine, which wasn’t among the many listed in the book. That has led me to a play on bullshit, the portmanteau Bullshido; through Michael Covarrubias, to the swearword malapropism bullshtein in the movie Johnny Dangerously; and through the malapropistic slur cork-soaker in that movie, to a hilarious SNL sketch “Cork Soakers”, where the expression is a comic double entendre. What a long strange trip.


Briefly noted: a bullshit lexicon

November 3, 2015

Published on October 27th, Mark Peters’s guide to the vocabulary of bullshit as a form of language use:

(That takes him into a certain amount of discourse on bullshit referring to animal excrement, but cow manure is not the point of the book.) (more…)


November 3, 2015

(Mostly about dance, but with a digression on a racial slur.)

In the November 2nd New Yorker, under Dance, a Joan Acocella piece, “Tap Routine: Donald Byrd considers the evolution of minstrelsy”. The background:

For bien-pensant people looking to enjoy the art of the past, there is probably nothing more bewildering — not the gaze-worthy nudes of Titian, not the beautiful dances created for Indian girls who had been sold to their temples as priestess-prostitutes — than the minstrel shows that flourished in America in the years surrounding the Civil War. Typically, these shows featured a lineup of a dozen or so men performing comic songs and skits based on “darkie” stereotypes, above all the image of black people as happy-go-lucky, lazy, feckless guys lying around and chewing on something or other. Minstrel shows seem even more deplorable in that they began as the creation of white people, performing in blackface and with big, woolly wigs. But such shows were also hugely popular with black people, who were soon producing their own versions, in which they, too, corked up and put on fuzzy wigs. We owe minstrelsy a great debt. It was the foremost precursor of vaudeville. The one and then the other were what regular people had by way of variety-show entertainment before TV, and therefore they were the arena in which clogging and jigging and other dances coalesced into what we now call tap dance.


David Hammons

November 2, 2015

Mostly about art, but with some ethnic slurs, visual puns, and symbolic flags.

In the November 2nd New Yorker a piece “A Tale of Two Cities: The Old Guard meets a new crop in “Greater New York.”” by Andrea K. Scott, about the current show at MOMA PS1. Illustrated by David Hammons’s “African-American Flag”, which stands in the courtyard at the entrance to the museum:


A version of the U.S. flag done in the three colors of the Pan-African flag: red, black, and green instead of red, whte, and blue.


X snob

October 31, 2015

First, I note a snowclonelet composite not discussed earlier on this blog: X snob, involving a specialized use of the noun snob. Then I summarize some ADS-L discussion of possible extensions of the snowclonelet, where it was suggested that the snowclonelet might in some cases be losing its pejorative tone.


French laundry, Hostess products, and incoherent ramblings

October 30, 2015

Today’s wry Zippy, with not much linguistic content (but it amused me):

A job. With a truck. French laundry? Hostess products? Or Zippy’s home brand of incoherent ramblings (which are often not as incoherent as you might think)?

Now about the French laundry…


Lame taboo avoidance

October 29, 2015

From the Washington Post on the 27th, the story “Lindsey Graham pours beers, contemplates marrying Carly Fiorina’ by David Weigel, beginning:

Boulder, Colo. — Low poll numbers almost kept him out of Wednesday’s “undercard” CNBC debate, but Sen. Lindsey O. Graham’s presidential campaign made it to Colorado — and took him into territory where few campaigns would tread. Graham (R-S.C.) was the inaugural guest at CNN’s “Politics on Tap” happy hour, its first celebrity bartender and its first participant in a twist on a somewhat salacious name game usually reserved for slumber parties.

The game has a variety of names — kill, fuck, marry;  fuck, marry, killfuck, marry, dumpmarry, fuck, kill — but all have fuck in them, and most have kill as well.


Pop-Tart blasphemy

October 27, 2015

This Pop-Tart commercial for their new Peanut Butter & Jelly line went past me this morning:

Well, I heard the peanut of peanut butter as penis, but that’s no surprise for someone of my inclinations. I noted it, to add to my file of mishearings, but decided not to post about it; I don’t post about each instance separately. But then along came the One Million Moms and their campaign to try to force Kellogg’s to withdraw the ad, or at least edit one line they found offensive because of its “foul language”. From their 10/15 posting, “Contact Kellogg’s Concerning ‘Jam It’ Ad”:

“No! Ah, Jam It!” The advertisement could have ended with “No!” but Kellogg’s chose to include a phrase that sounded just like a curse word.

It took me a while to see that they were talking about the blasphemous profanity Damn it! / Dammit!, which for me is the mildest sort of strong language. But they’re really serious Christians, who feel that children need protection from blasphemy, or allusions to blasphemy, in the media (in expressions with words like Christ, God, damn, and hell in them — OMG!).



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