Archive for the ‘Insults’ Category

That bastard mongrel half-breed, the tromboon

July 25, 2018

To yesterday’s posting “Hybrid referent, portmanteau name” (mostly about the flumpet, with a bit on the fluba), Robert Coren added a comment about Peter Schickele / P.D.Q. Bach and his invention, the tromboon:

(#1)

The tromboon is a musical instrument made up of the reed and bocal of a bassoon, attached to the body of a trombone in place of the trombone’s mouthpiece. It combines the sound of double reeds and the slide for a distinctive and unusual instrument. The name of the instrument is a portmanteau of “trombone” and “bassoon”. The sound quality of the instrument is best described as comical and loud.

The tromboon was developed by Peter Schickele, a skilled bassoonist himself, and featured in some of his live concert and recorded performances. Schickele called it “a hybrid – that’s the nicer word – constructed from the parts of a bassoon and a trombone; it has all the disadvantages of both”. This instrument is called for in the scores of P. D. Q. Bach’s oratorio The Seasonings, as well as the Serenude (for devious instruments) and Shepherd on the Rocks, With a Twist. (Wikipedia link)

Here I’m focusing on that’s the nicer word: just what did Schickele think (in 2008) was a less nice, more offensive, way to refer to a hybrid (more specifically, to someone of mixed race, which is probably where the insult vocabulary for hybrids is going to come from)? Specifically, what does an old white guy addressing a mostly white audience think might be a more offensive way to refer to hybrids? (A young black guy would probably insult a half-black half-white guy by calling him white.)

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Rubber and glue

July 23, 2018

The June 26th One Big Happy, with an updated version of a bit of childlore:

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It starts out traditionally, with a retort to insult beginning “I’m rubber and you’re glue…”, but then it takes a modern-tech social-media turn (while preserving the glue … you rhyme).

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The profane domain

May 7, 2018

… and pornlinguistics.

Recently on Facebook, from Dan Everett and then Rob Pensalfini, calls for research in what I’ll call the profane domain of linguistics:

Dan: How about a pop-up book on the interaction of pornography and linguistic relativity?

Rob: It’s about time for a revival of McCawley’s field of pornolinguistics (and scatolinguistics, while we’re at it).

Dan is a frequent presence on this blog; Rob is new (and I’ll introduce him below). Rob asks about the profane domain, under the name “pornolinguistics and scatolinguistics” (a label I seem to have been responsible for, in 1967, in a moment of careless playfulness). Dan asks about linguistic aspects of pornography (I’ll put pop-up books — they already exist — and linguistic relativity aside in this posting), a topic several commenters thought must be barren, though I’ve found quite a lot to say about it on this blog.

So: on the profane domain, other names for it, and resources on this blog about it. And then on pornography in a similar vein.

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He meant to say “supine”

February 11, 2018

Wilson Gray on ADS-L on the 6th:

“She was lying on her back, when she was stabbed, in the prone position.”

He meant to say, “in the supine position,” of course.

There’s no “of course” here. No, that is almost surely not what the speaker meant to say; I’d wager he intended to say exactly what he did say. It’s just not what Wilson thinks the speaker should have said. (Or he’s mocking people who talk this way, though I failed to detect any raised eyebrows in what he wrote so briefly and dismissively.)

We have here a widespread vulgar confusion, a failure to distinguish

between inadvertent errors, things that are “wrong” for the person who produces them, and advertent errors, things that are ok so far as the producer is concerned but “wrong” from the point of view of at least some other people. (Faced with [the first], you call in the psycholinguist; faced with [the second], you call in the sociolinguist.) (Language Log link)

On top of that, Wilson has the sociolinguistic facts wrong, through a confusion between ordinary language and technical language: supine is a technical term for a bodily postion (lying flat on one’s back), used in certain specific domains (anatomy, sport, and shooting, in particular); in those domains, its counterpart (referring to lying flat on one’s belly) is prone, but in ordinary language, outside these specific domains, prone can refer to lying flat in general, and supine isn’t used at all.

The mistake here lies in assuming that technical, domain-specific (medical, botanical, technologcal, etc.) vocabulary is the true, correct, uniquely valid scheme for naming. From my 7/27/15 posting “Misleadingly named animals”, on zoological names:

The terminology “true fly” and “true bug” (etc.) here arises from the attitude that the naming practices of biologists are the only valid (true) naming schemes — what I’ll call technicalism. In the case of fly and bug, technicalism is remarkable from the historical point of view, since the specialized use of these nouns represents a decision to use perfectly ordinary vocabulary as technical terminology by drastically restricting its reference.

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Xmas follies 2017: the clothing

December 15, 2017

Inspired by office groups gathered for holiday celebrations in local restaurants, with lots of participants in seasonal sweathers, variously festive, garish, raunchy, or ridiculous. It turns out that the Ugly Christmas Sweater is a thing: large retailers like Macy’s and Target sell the things under that name, and there are companies specializing in them. Here, for example, is an UCS that incorporates another Xmas follies theme: the shirtless men of Christmas:

(#1) Blizzard Bay Men’s Shirtless Santa Ride Ugly Christmas Sweater

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Gay slurs in New Zealand

August 16, 2017

… with quotations from a Stanford linguist.

The story: “Garry Mallett’s explanation of the F-word falls short” by Jeremy Olds yesterday in the NZ website Stuff (stuff.co.nz), about fag(got), beginning with events in Hamilton City NZ (south of Auckland on the North Island):

OPINION: It’s unclear why Hamilton City councillor Garry Mallett believes pink is a “homo colour”. Perhaps he thinks it’s effeminate; perhaps he thinks it’s cute.

Whatever the case, when Mallett described a pink piece of paper from an agenda last week as a “homo colour”, before using the word “fags”, his comments were perceived as homophobic by his colleagues, including councillor Angela O’Leary.

While he apologised for his language this morning, Mallett was last night defending his comments, saying gay people are comfortable with the labels, and to think otherwise is to be “sucked into this politically correct vortex,” The Spinoff reported.

“Many homosexuals freely and willingly identify with these words. Indeed, to some extent, homosexuals have ‘commandeered’ these words such that many non-homosexuals feel uncomfortable using them,” he said.

Ah, the right to use fag openly and proudly as a slur, threatened by the pansies, fruits, and fairies who have begun reclaiming fag for their own use.

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The taunt

August 8, 2017

Today’s One Big Happy has James reciting a piece of American childlore, the taunt “X is a friend of mine” (where X is a name, preferably a trochaic one, like Ruthie, to fit the trochaic tetrameter pattern of the verse):

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A cornucopia of pop culture references.

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Macho Muffler Man vs. the elite geek

June 2, 2017

Today’s Zippy pits Griffy against a familiar figure in the strip, a Muffler Man roadside fiberglass figure — in this case a lumberjack figure, selling tires rather than mufflers, but still part of an automotive theme:

Not just selling tires, but presenting himself as hypermasculinely disdainful of analytic academics.

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hockey puck

April 11, 2017

From the Bloomberg site on 4/6/17, a death notice: “Don Rickles, Comedian Who Turned Insults Into Art, Dies at 90”, by Laurence Arnold, which notes:

“The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang credits Rickles, circa 1963, with repurposing ‘hockey puck’ to mean ‘a stupid or useless person.’”

There’s some question about when Rickles first used the insult to address someone, but no one seems to have asked

🏒Why hockey puck?🏒

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More British slurs

July 17, 2016

A follow-up to yesterday’s posting on “oiks, yobs, and prats”, about British social slurs, especially in the tv series Midsomer Murders: Facebook comments from John Wells (on the slurs in my posting, plus chav) and Don Steiny (on the status of cunt in British (also Australian) English).

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