Sidestepping the taboo item

Two instances of taboo avoidance today: one from today’s Dilbert, one from a tv ad for DraftKings (a fantasy sports site).

The DraftKings ad (with “you could win a shipload of money”) can be viewed here.

The raging pedant in the Dilbert is named Dick, thus smuggling into the strip the vulgar slang dick ‘stupid or annoying person (especially a man)’ (which NOAD2 takes to be a variant of dickhead in this sense). This is a mild enough slur that it’s used regularly on some television shows (for instance, Supernatural, where it seems to function as a milder version of asshole).

The shipload of money (for shitload of money) on DraftKings is a phonologically-based euphemistic avoidance, a very ostentatious one in fact, similar to the use of booking for fucking in the Booking.com ads discussed here. It seems to have been picked up by others in the fantasy sports world, for instance here:

Quote: that fantasy football sucks and has been ruining the game.

[Comment] Not if you win a shipload of money and have bikini models in your pants. Otherwise, yes, no question. (link)

This tweet suggests that the ad has been cleaned up (while preserving the nautical theme):

Draft kings changed their commercial from “you could win a shipload of money” to “you could win a boat load of money” FCC wasn’t happy haa (link)

But I’m seeing the original, untouched, on TNT.

5 Responses to “Sidestepping the taboo item”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    There’s also the Kmart “ship my pants” ads, discussed here: https://arnoldzwicky.org/2013/04/14/ship-my-pants/

  2. Alon Says:

    ‘A boatload of money’ still has taboo undertones, suggesting ‘buttload’ — though /oʊ/ for /ʌ/ is a more distant substitution than /p/ for /t/, and the different relative frequencies make the naughty reading less likely.

  3. Barbara Says:

    The Verizon Wireless commercials about “half-fast” Internet speed also come to mind.

  4. honestadman Says:

    Saw the “shipload” spot today on fox sports. Apparently the word hasn’t gotten out to everyone. Hard to believe the FCC cares about this given all the vulgar language and obvious sex scenes they allow now on network television. Just silly really. And, is buttload more acceptable than sh*tload as a play on words? I have to congratulate the agency for getting over on the FCC with that fix.

  5. Nearly sweary ads – Strong Language Says:

    […] Arnold Zwicky wrote in his blog […]

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