Annals of euphemism: degrees of avoided expletivity

From Georgia Morgan on 10/29:·

I guess if you want to use profane language in emails to your senators, you need to tone it down. I wrote “Mass gun violence events are becoming [f$%king] commonplace!” and my message was rejected by the Senate server as a security risk, but “[expletive deleted]” was OK. I’m guessing “freaking” would have passed muster also.

Ah, [f$%king] is insufficiently euphemistic in this context. I imagine [f**king] and [f–king] would also be out, but I wonder about

[f$%@ing], [f***ing], [f—ing]

And then there’s freaking, fracking, farking, the Good Place‘s forking, the antique frigging, and many more, all of them patiently logged one place or another.

And meta-expletive euphemisms like “[expletive deleted]”. And on and on, detailed in many many postings on LLog and this blog (I’ve posted dozens of times just about the practices of the New York Times).

But the idea that fucking, or anything really close to it, would be a security risk, that’s a novelty to me. One motherfucker uttered or written in public, and our nation’s tender belly is ripped open, exposing us all to hordes of godless pinko Commies! Who knew we were so vulnerable?

Yes, it’s monstrously complicated: what expressions certain people are expected to avoid, or to use, to certain others for certain purposes in certain contexts — and what conventional rationales are given for these practices. The word fuck is claimed to be degrading, to be intrinsically harmful to children and women, and simultaneously valued as an essential part of a suite of linguistic practices to be employed by certain people (largely men) in private to display power.

Meanwhile, there’s an expletive counter-offensive, as in the Andrew Christian FUKR Provocative briefs I posted about earlier today, and of course French Connection UK. From Wikipedia:

French Connection (also branded as FCUK or fcuk) is a UK-based global retailer and wholesaler of fashion clothing, accessories and homeware. Founded in the early 1970s by Stephen Marks who also serves as chairman and chief executive, it is based in London and its parent French Connection Group PLC is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

French Connection distributes its clothing and accessories through its own stores in the UK, US and Canada and through franchise and wholesale arrangements globally. The company became notorious for the use of the “fcuk” initialism in its advertising campaigns in the early 2000s.

2 Responses to “Annals of euphemism: degrees of avoided expletivity”

  1. Stan Carey Says:

    As an Irishman I wonder if fecking would slip by. I’m pretty sure (UK English) chuffing would.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      I don’t know if fecking would slip by, but in the US Senate, chuffing surely would, since (northern English, Scots, and Irish) chuff ‘fuck’ (lit. and fig.) seems not to be current in any part of the US.

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