Archive for the ‘Taboo language and slurs’ Category

Larkin and the Gray Lady, again

May 17, 2017

I’ve been on break from remarking on some of the obsessions of the New York Times — its periodiphilia, its taboo avoidance, and so on — but I’m moved to return to the second of these topics because the Gray Lady has managed to reproduce, in deail, one of its previous encounters with taboo vocabulary, a tussle with poet Philip Larkin’s “This Be the Verse”.

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Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit: three cartoons for the 1st

May 1, 2017

It’s May Day, an ancient spring festival — think maypoles and all that — so, the beginning of the cycle of the seasons. (Everybody knows the Vivaldi. Try listening instead to the Haydn, here.) And it’s the first of the month, an occasion for still other rituals, including one that calls for everyone to greet the new month, upon awakening, by saying “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit” (or some variant thereof). There’s even a Rabbit Rabbit Day Facebook community, with this page art (not attributed to an artist):

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The three-rabbit variant is the one I’m familiar with. (I got it as an adult from Ann Daingerfield Zwicky. Since she was from the South, I thought it was a specifically Southern thing. But today I learned, from an astonishingly detailed Wikipedia page, that that is very much not so.)

Today also brought a Facebook posting from my friend Mary Ballard, to whom the whole inaugural-rabbit thing was news, and, by good fortune, three cartoons from various sources: a Bizarro I’ve already posted about; a Mother Goose and Grimm with an outrageous bit of language play; and a Calvin and Hobbes reflection on the meaning of the verb read.

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The maiden, the monster, and the hero

April 15, 2017

In the LGBT precinct of Facebook recently, this Jim Benton cartoon (eventually this posting will be about Benton, but first the folktale scenarios):

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The basic scenario is Beauty and the Beast: a beautiful maiden (that is, a virgin), often a princess; and a monster, a grotesque creature, either literally an animal (a gigantic ape, a dinosaur, a mutant lizard, a dragon, whatever — but male) or a man animalistic in form, sometimes in nature as well. The monster desires the maiden: to devour her (literally), to despoil her (sexually), or merely to love her (romantically).

A third character, the Knight, figures in an extended scenario: a hero, a handsome and virile young man, often in armor, often a prince, whose role is to challenge the monster in battle and overcome him, thereby rescuing the maiden — for himself; she is his prize. In the extended scenario, two males are rivals for the maiden.

In Benton’s version, the hero challenges the monster, demanding that the monster deal with him rather than the maiden. And so the monster does. Sometimes in a love triangle, the rivals become lovers. (Combat between men is sometimes a route to mutual respect, male bonding, and friendship; in this case, the relationship goes one step further.)

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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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Risible (faux-)commercial name

March 13, 2017

From a posting by Randy Murray to the Facebook page‎ “THE ERRORIST MOVEMENT – Correct grammar, with humour”, where he comments, “apostrophes mean so much”:

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At first glance, this ad would seem to fall into four big topic areas on this blog: dubious commercial names; It’s All Grammar; vulgar slang; and phallic play (in particular, word play). To which I add: the conventions on the form of hashtags, e-mail addresses, and web addresses (URLs). But first, I have to tell you that this particular Dick’s Pizza is a fabrication.

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pain in the X

March 9, 2017

A recent One Big Happy:

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Higher vs.lower, in several senses. The two families of pain in the idioms are high vs.low on the body and high vs. low in tone. (They’ve been around for about a hundred years, but apparently didn’t catch fire until the 1930s.)

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More piggery

February 26, 2017

Yesterday on nipples, a further adventure with the sexual snowclonelet X pig — in particular, nipple pig, nippig, titpig, referring to a man who is enthusiastically into papillary stimulation with other men, giving or getting. This has now led me to other, non-sexual, instances of the snowclonelet, as in these occurrences of the food-enthusiast (rather than sex-enthusiast) snowclonelet ice cream pig:

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dying

February 17, 2017

Today’s Zippy:

On Henny Youngman and his famous one-liner “Take my wife … please”, see the Youngman section of this 9/8/12 posting.

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The rarest of slurs

February 8, 2017

Yesterday’s weird slur bulletin from Iowa (hat tip to LJ Yanney on Facebook): in the Des Moines Register, “Adel lawmaker accused of using gay slur” by Molly Longman:

A central Iowa lawmaker has been accused of using a gay slur while making fun of a former political opponent at a public forum over the weekend.
State Rep. Ralph Watts, an Adel Republican, said in an interview Monday that the critics are wrong about the slur: They misunderstood a homonym.
“It was not a slur,” Watts said.
A video taken at the Saturday forum at the Adel library shows Watts referring to business owner Bryce Smith — the Democrat whom Watts defeated in November to win his seventh term in the House — as either “Red Ryder” or “red rider.”
The terms sound the same and are one letter apart. But the meanings are drastically different.
One Iowa, the Des Moines-based advocacy group, said in a news release Monday evening that “red rider” is a slur used to describe a gay man.
A “Red Ryder” is the brand of BB gun Ralphie asked for in the film “A Christmas Story” before his mother told him, “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
… Watts said later Monday that he didn’t know the term “red rider ” was a slur.

Hardly anyone else does either. If you sling a slur in a wasteland, does it sting?

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fudge

January 31, 2017

(It starts with tasty stuff, but eventually there will be some distasteful stuff. Be prepared.)

Yesterday it was Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies, which drew a giggle from me (because I have a dirty mind), So let’s start with fudge and brownies, the foodstuffs.

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