Eight Days in Spring

Tuesday to Tuesday, linguistics on the march to take over the comics: the Zippy strip of Tuesday 3/29 (on names and things) and the xkcd cartoon for today, Tuesday 4/5 (on esthetic responses to words: from word attraction to word aversion). (Warning: the word aversion discussion will take us to a sexual act, typically between men, that I will discurse on in intimate detail, in a way that’s utterly inappropriate for kids and the sexually modest.)

Well, it’s not Seven Days in May. It’s more than seven days, it’s not yet in May, and no governments are threatened with being taken over. So it’s probably safe to go out, even if there are linguists in the streets.

From Wikipedia:

Seven Days in May is a 1964 American political thriller film about a military-political cabal’s planned takeover of the United States government in reaction to the president’s negotiation of a disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union.

Name-dropping. A Greek temple, an electric guitar, and a mushroom walk into a comic strip, where — oh, Cratylus! — they encounter a colloquium on linguistics and philosophy.

(#1) Things, labeled and unlabeled; — on (conceptual) categorization and labeling, as we say on this blog

Griffy thinks that everything has a name; Zippy wonders about that (the lingphil points go to Zippy here: unlabeled referents abound). The two together wonder whether there could be things — well, things in the mind, (conceptual) categories — without names (yes yes — unlabeled higher taxa abound too, and animals show clear evidence of recognizing various categories that must have been developed from experience.)

Linguistics Degree. The title of xkcd #2602:

(#2) On Facebook and elsewhere, linguists (and some others) immediately began bargaining over desirable words: serendipity, serendipitous, buttress, snorkel, affectedness (word attraction)

The felch digression. (Warning: this is the grossly dirty stuff, so kids and the sexually modest should leave now.) Notable in the FB discussion was this plaint from Rob Pensalfini, who broke out in word aversion because he got a really icky word (my response follows):

RP: I demand to speak to the manager! I ended up with felch

AZ > RP: Oh dear. It seems they got to you quite late, and the only words they had left were for bottom feeders. (I can’t tell you how many years I’ve been waiting for an occasion to use that line.)

RP > AZ: happy to help out

Now, on felch, in my 9/7/19 posting “Big sexy prime birthday gay ice cream”:

The creators of South Park went to some trouble to seed all sorts of hugely gay stuff in the shows. For example: Big Gay Al sings in a production number, and the piano used in the number is very briefly shown to be a Felcher — like a Steinway, or a Bechstein — an allusion to a bit of vulgar sexual slang; from GDoS:

verb felch: (usu. gay) to lick out the semen from the anus of someone who has just enjoyed anal intercourse; the semen is then spat into the partner’s mouth [cites from the mid-20th century on]

(In my experience, that last step is optional; lots of guys really like to swallow the cum; I certainly did.)

In any case, this is double your pleasure, double your fun: it’s rimming plus semen play (that is, asshole-licking plus cum-sucking), both activities that are engaged in for sexual pleasure.

There’s a Page on this blog on postings about cum and its appreciation, including in various forms of cum play. As for rimming, from NOAD:

verb rim: [with object] vulgar slang lick or suck the anus of (someone) as a means of sexual stimulation.

[And now a digression within a digression, on the emotional, psychological, or symbolic values of the act of rimming. The watchword here is It’s Just Stuff (Page on this blog here): there are features of the world, and then there are the uses or functions to which they can be put, their social or cultural associations, the ideas they evoke, and so on — all the things that these features can (in certain sociocultural contexts) point to, convey, or evoke. (Hang on; this stuff really is going to be relevant to felching and my joke. D’ya remember the bottom-feeder joke?)

Stuff is perceptible, and includes, among other things: linguistic variants (at all levels), paralinguistic features, gestures, postures /  stances, physical objects (which can be taken to be symbolic), and also acts / actions.

Rimming is the act of applying tongue and/or lips on an anus. It’s reasonably common in man-on-man sex (though nowhere as common as standard gay porn would suggest, where it’s a routine way station on the path from man kissing man to man fucking man). I have rimmed guys and (more often) been rimmed by them.

This very same act can, however, be understood emotionally in several quite different ways: as an act of submission (what you probably think of first when you hear ass-licker); as an act of humiliation (shaming the rimmer for engaging their mouth with someone’s organ of defecation; no matter how clean it might be, it’s still a place of contamination); as an act of sexual service (affording the rimmee with the warm pleasure of having their anus stimulated by a mouth and tongue); as an act of pleasurable penetration (pleasurable tongue-fucking); as a way of preparing the anus for fucking by opening it up and and lubricating it with spit (since I liked to get fucked, some men would do this for me, oh yes, thank you); or as an act of bodily violence or dominance (aggressive tongue-fucking).

Believe it or not, this isn’t the end of the list. In all of the acts above, the anus might be cleansed and fresh (washed and rinsed by hand, spray-cleaned, or douched) or natural and funky, without preparation, and conceivably dirty, even very dirty. That opens the way for acts in which the emotional value of the act comes in part from the taste and smell of an unprepared anus — which can range from an earthy mustiness to stronger sulfurous, bitter, sweetish, meaty, cheesy, fermented, and more intensely umami tones.

These are acts in which the shit elephant in the room isn’t dismissed or denied. Instead, it’s either accepted as a fact of life (rimming naturally, you might say) or actively embraced as a source of satisfaction in itself, and eaten: for its taste; as providing humiliation through disgust; as an extreme form of submission; as bonding in full intimacy with the rimmee’s body; as an ordeal or test to be surmounted; as pleasure in extreme naughty dirtiness; and no doubt for other values. (These are my recastings of some commentary from gay scat sources, with self-described scatboys / shitfags / toilet fags talking about their own sexual practices. The good news for investigative linguists is that these extraordinarily dirty acts are often accompanied by a lot of really dirty talk, even though the toilet fags have their mouths full a lot of the time.)

Now, here’s the thing: felching is going to be on the funky end of the rimming scale; first that ass gets fucked, possibly pretty deeply, then it gets lubed with cum, so there are a lot of bodily effluvia sloshing around down there, and that’s what the felcher gets in his mouth. Whatever pleasure the felcher gets from his act, there’s no denying that the act has to be towards the higher end of the disgust, or ick, scale, maybe in the neighborhood of eating a really stinky cheese. (This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s wildly not to many people’s taste.)

Disgust at felching, aversion to the label. So Rob Pensalfini was miffed when he got the word felch on linguistics graduation day. My guess was that they got to him quite late in the ceremony, so the only words they had left were for bottom feeders. From NOAD:

noun bottom feeder: 1 an aquatic creature that feeds at the bottom of a body of water. 2 [metaphorical] North American informal someone who profits from things cast off or left over by others.

Now add to this an innovative sense: [3] a felcher, someone (usu. a gay man) who feeds on (male) bottoms ‘buttocks’ after anal intercourse.



6 Responses to “Eight Days in Spring”

  1. J B Levin Says:

    I’m certain this was a typo: “serendity. Serendity is a very active community with over 700 members! We have tons of fun and interesting people to talk to from all over the world. Get help with homework, practise language skills, find new people to play games with, new friends, share your art, use fun and cute emotes, enjoy a variety of bots and participate in fun events!” [about a server on discord.]

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Well, *of course* serendity was a typo, as was the seredipitous that immediately followed it. Both a consequence of my damaged and disabled right hand, and both now corrected. But it would have been kinder to tell me about my error in e-mail rather than reminding me of my deficiencies in public. I would normally now delete your comment, rather than leaving it in the record for posterity forever, but you added this bit on another occurrence of Serendity, so I’m leaving it.

      Look, the physical task of preparing these texts for posting is extremely tedious and time-consuming, in fact literally painful (and there are no meds that could help). Virtually every time I try to type and it comes out ad, and I might not catch the error until the third or fourth re-reading of the text. Please do not laugh at my stumbling.

      • J B Levin Says:

        It was not my intention to put this forward as any item of mockery, far from it. I fully expected you to correct it and delete the comment as you had before. One thing I have learned is that you frequently show me words I have missed in 70+ years of speaking the language. I suppose I was calling attention to myself for checking that it wasn’t a new word before saying it was a typo. But the last thing I want to do is laugh; I may be unable to appreciate the extent of your difficulties, but I do marvel at your output and the thought and research that goes into it every day.

      • arnold zwicky Says:

        Reply to JBL: thank you. But let me ask you again to ease my tasks a bit by sending typo notes to me by e-mail (arnold dot zwicky at-sign gmail dot com).

  2. Mark Mandel Says:

    Do you have access to any speech recognition software? I was for 12 or so years senior linguist at Dragon Systems, developers of the first fully functional general purpose automatic speech recognition system. ASR does as a rule require examination and possibly correction of its output, generally after each phrase or sentence, but that usually requires a lot less keyboard activity than typing the whole thing. I used it a lot, and it was especially helpful when I developed carpal tunnel syndrome. Dragon Systems is unfortunately no longer in existence — near the beginning of the century they were bought out by a bunch of scammers which wound up being called Nuance — but there are a number of programs in use.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      People have made this suggestion again and again, but it’s not the answer for someone with my kind of disability *whose profession is writing* (and I mean one hell of a lot of writing). The problem is in your remark:

      ASR does as a rule require examination and possibly correction of its output, generally after each phrase or sentence

      This is a total killer for fluent writing. An absolutely necessity for various forms of severe disability, yes, but it slows down what you can write by orders of magnitude.

      I’m not asking for help with my disability; I think I’ve adjusted things as much as I can to accommodate it. What I’m asking is that people exhibit some generosity in *accommodating to me*. (Don’t make me give my Disability Rights Lecture; you really wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.)

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