Sperm, sperm, wonderful sperm, and all that jizz

(Some may find the topic distasteful; take the title as a gauge of the content to follow.)

Another essay on the seminal-ejaculatory vocabulary of vernacular English, following on the discussion in my “Face work” posting of the 27th: on the seminal N sperm (not in the earlier posting) and its verbing; more on the seminal N and ejaculatory V jizz; and a note on the SquirtJet word spew.

The title. Ok, the fun first. Two pieces of off-color word play, chained together.

“Sperm, sperm, wonderful sperm” is buffoonery on Monty Python’s “Spam, spam, wonderful spam” (already a deeply silly sketch and song, featuring British drag-housewives, hearty singing Norsemen, and of course canned processed meat product):

(#1)

And “all that jizz”, a play on the musical film title All That Jazz, itself a play on the ambiguity between jazz as the name of a musical genre and the jazz ‘nonsense; stuff’ in the slang idiom (andall that jazz, with a whiff of sex in uses of jazz to refer to fucking and to cum (and in director Bob Fosse’s high-energy homosexuality).

The film (from Wikipedia):

(#2)

All That Jazz is a 1979 American musical film directed by Bob Fosse. The screenplay by Robert Alan Aurthur and Fosse is a semi-autobiographical fantasy based on aspects of Fosse’s life and career as dancer, choreographer and director. The film was inspired by Bob Fosse’s manic effort to edit his film Lenny while simultaneously staging the 1975 Broadway musical Chicago. It borrows its title from the Kander and Ebb tune “All That Jazz” in that production.

On relevant senses of jazz from GDoS:

jazz 3 in fig. uses. (a) (orig. US) misleading, untrue, empty or preposterous talk, nonsense [1st cite 1917]; (b) (US) anything, stuff … 4 (US) semen [1st cite in 1932, from Alan Walker Read’s collection of mensroom graffiti]

all that jazz [sense 3a above] (orig. US) that sort of thing [AZ: similar to stuff, junk, shit], usu. following a list of proper nouns …and all that jazz. [1st cite 1958 E. Frankel. Band of Brothers: “I’m a sucker for tradtion, Captain. You know, ‘Marines never say die,’ and all that jazz.”]

Seminal-ejaculatory sperm. On the N sperm in OED2:

Etymology: < Old French esperme (French sperme), sparme, or Latin sperma (hence also Italian sperma, Spanish esperma, Portuguese esperma), < Greek σπέρμα, < the stem of σπείρειν to sow.

[main sense:] The generative substance or seed of male animals (esp. of vertebrates). [1st cite from Chaucer; generally scientific or at least formal]

But it’s been extended to (generally playful and slightly off-color) slang uses, exploited for its assonance in the compound sperm-burper (‘someone who performs fellatio’; ‘male homosexual; as a general term of abuse), and verbed in the rhyming phrase sperm the worm ‘to masturbate’ (all as reported by GDoS, all from 1993 or later).

The N has been more widely verbed in vernacular uses, notably in several examples of He spermed my ass ‘he ejaculated internally in my anus, that is, he came in my asshole’, from the gay male area of the Nifty website.

[Extended digression on the Nifty (nifty ‘particularly good, skillful, or effective’ (NOAD2)) lgbt site: “Nifty Erotic Stories Archive. Established 1992. Over 235,000 stories by over 10,000 authors.” Further fascinating information from Wikipedia:

Nifty.org was used as a source for one million words of gay male erotic narratives, and a comparison million words of lesbian erotic narratives, by Paul Baker of Lancaster University, in a study of “the identity constructions and language use of those who are viewed as ideal sexual partners; important themes or narrative patterns within the texts which reveal the discourses of sexuality that the authors have accessed; [and] the language that gay consumers/creators of erotic texts find to be sexually arousing”.

[reference footnote:] “Querying Keywords Questions of Difference, Frequency, and Sense in Keywords Analysis”, Journal of English Linguistics, Vol. 32, No. 4, December 2004, pp. 346-359. This study included by [Paul] Baker, under the title “As big as a beercan. A comparative keyword analysis of lesbian and gay male erotic narratives”, in Public Discourses of Gay Men, London, New York, Routledge, 2005, … reissued unchanged in 2013

The Nifty gay male categories:

adult friends, adult youth [i.e., adult + youth], athletics, authoritarian, beginnings [of sexual attraction], camping [and outdoors], celebrity, college, encounters [quick tricks], first time, high school, historical, incest, interracial, masturbation, military, no sex, non-English, relationships, rural, science fiction or fantasy, urination [and raunch], young friends [sex between kid friends]

The stuff appears pretty much as submitted, so it ranges hugely in the niftiness (both quality and effectiveness) of the writing, but it is a splendid source of vernacular language, including both British and American usage (and sometimes even from different regions in the UK and the US), and the usage of both younger and older men.]

Notes on jizz. Jizz (both N and V) has gradually become my favorite item of slang in the seminal-ejaculatory zone; it’s got spunk.

OED2 under jizm gives the spelling variants chism, chissum, gism, jissum, jizzum, jisum, jissom, jizz (go for the monosyllable in sex talk, I say), and admits that its origin is unknown. Otherwise:

slang (orig. U.S.) 1. Energy, strength. [1st cite 1842] 2. Semen, sperm. Often regarded as a taboo-word [1st cite 1899; notable quote 1968 John Updike Couples: “Georgene would wash herself before and after. Said his jizz ran down her leg, too much of it.”]

(The shift from ‘energy, strength’ to ‘semen, sperm’ is straightforward, with cum seen as the essence and symbol of male energy and strength.)

[Added 11/30. The verb jizz got a boost from the comedy sketch “Jizz in My Pants” by the group The Lonely Planet, which garnered lots of attention when their “Dick in a Box” sketch appeared on Saturday Night Live; see my 12/30/15 posting on this blog. “Jizz in My Pants” has a narrative-present V. The guy describes some apparently innocuous encounter that sets him off: so and so happens “and then I jizz in my pants”. So now we have Andy Samberg, star of this sketch, in a visual meme:

(#3)

Sometimes the verb is converted to a narrative past: “and then I jizzed in my pants”.]

The SquirtJet item spew. SquirtJet is my (recently devised) name for a class of English words not yet conventionalized in use both as ejaculatory Vs (referring metasphorically to the act of ejaculation) and as seminal Ns (referring to the product or result of that act); the examples I gave in my “Face work” posting are spurt, shower, squirt, jet. It’s not always clear which is basic and which derived synchronically (squirt feels more V-like to me, jet more N-like, but those are just subjective impressions), so I prefer just to label them as SquirtJet words.

SquirtJet Vs tend to resist straightforwardly transitive uses, in examples parallel to He shot/jizzed/spunked my ass ‘he ejaculated on(to) my ass/buttocks’ or ‘he ejaculated in(to) my ass/asshole’ — things like He spurted/squirted/jetted my ass. But maybe such examples will eventually, um, come.

In any case, spew (encountered as N in my Nifty explorations) is yet another SquirtJet word. No doubt there are still more I haven’t noticed.

One Response to “Sperm, sperm, wonderful sperm, and all that jizz”

  1. Ellen Says:

    Also note the spelling “gyzym” — brought to my attention by a fan writer I admire who uses that as a handle[*] — which appears in Ginsberg’s “Howl”:

    “… who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a candle and fell off the bed, and continued along the floor and down the hall and ended fainting on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness …”

    [*] Her self-intro: “HEY THERE. I’m gyzym, which makes me that girl your mother warned you about, assuming your mother thought to caution you about long-winded Jewish bisexual writer-types who accidentally named themselves after semen. You can call me Jizz or Jizzy; don’t worry, everyone else does.”

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