Archive for the ‘Taboo language and slurs’ Category

On the euphemism watch

January 22, 2019

The Daddy’s Home cartoon (by Anthony Rubino Jr. and Gary Markstein) for January 20th:

Doubly peculiar euphemisms heck and gosh: they’re replacing straightforward religious uses of hell and God, rather than transferred uses in cursing; and in any case the taboo associated with these cursing uses has ebbed to such a degree that euphemizing them has a decidedly quaint feel.

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Worst year ever

December 25, 2018

(Warning: tons of dirty words for the holidays.)

The title of the Scenes From a Mutiverse cartoon on the 23rd (here), in which two (gender-marked) alien creatures reflect on the horrid year that is coming to an end and announce extraordinary resolutions for the new year: he resolves to stop storing personal possessions inside his body, she resolves to eat bees, that sort of thing. But my focus here is on his first two words: a foul oath, a compound expletive, interjection, or exclamation. Which will lead us to the excesses of punk rock in Scotland.

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Taboo book notice

December 13, 2018

… that is, a notice of a book on taboo language: The Oxford Handbook of Taboo Words and Language, ed. by Keith Allan, publisher’s site here.

Cover art: Namarrgon the Lightning Man (aboriginal rock art from Western Arnhemland); he comes to earth as a lightning strike and brings the fierce tropical storms in Western Arnhemland during the monsoon season (notable testicles are a common feature of representations of him)

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Meaty faggots

December 12, 2018

My friend Aric was astonished yesterday to come across this food product:

Pork me: a classic presentation of faggots, in a brown gravy, accompanied by peas and mashed potatoes

No doubt he would find the following news bulletin (from Wikipedia) remarkable:

The “nose-to-tail eating” trend has resulted in greater demand for faggots in the 21st century.

Aric is American and gay, so of course pork faggots — being British and devoid of sexual associations (beyond those attending on any sort of meatball) —  are neither familiar nor salient to him.

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Reciprocity in the profane domain

November 16, 2018

At the request of colleagues who are working on reciprocal and symmetric expressions in English, yesterday I scanned in a classic paper on the topic, which is also a classic paper in profane-domain linguistics (aka scatolinguistics ‘the linguistics of dirty talk’): Quang Phuc Dong’s “A note on conjoined Noun Phrases”. Having gone to the trouble, I’m reproducing the scans here so that they will be generally available through this blog.

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Panda Puffs and Fruity Pandas

November 4, 2018

A few days ago, on the 1st, another adventure in sugary breakfast cereals (and their names and their mascots): “Sweet stuff”, with a section on Trix Fruity Shapes. From the conglomerate General Mills, with a hyperactive rabbit mascot and the — to some ears — suggestive fruity in the name, plus enough sugar to make the stuff eligible to be labeled candy.

Now, thanks to a visit to the cereal section of my local Whole Foods, I can report on lower-sugar alternatives from two small environmentally earnest companies — still with adorable mascots and cute names. On the panda watch: Panda Puffs (from EnviroKidz) and, I suppose inevitably, Fruity Pandas (from Wild Kratts). Yes, fruity poofs, playful and good for you too.

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Annals of euphemism: degrees of avoided expletivity

November 4, 2018

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?

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Sweet stuff

November 1, 2018

Three candy bulletins from the last month: the news (which came to me from Scott Schwenter on Facebook, reporting exultantly from Pickerington OH) that Trix Fruity Shapes (from General Mills) are back on the shelves; today’s Wayno & Piraro Bizarro cartoon with cotton gin ‘gin(-flavored) cotton candy’; and the Sunday 10/28 NYT Magazine Candy Issue.

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Revisiting 20: X Places

November 1, 2018

The Scenes From a Multiverse of 10/9, entitled #NOTALLPLACES:

A riff on Michael Schur’s sitcom The Good Place, with Kristen Bell (as Eleanor, apparently sent wrongly to the place after her deathGood Plae modality is harsh.) and Ted Danson (as Michael, the designer of the place). Also a comment on social media (Twitter vs. Facebook).  And of course on the nature of reality and our perceptions of it.

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Chic peas and more

October 13, 2018

The fall special at Dan Gordon’s (on Emerson St. in Palo Alto), as it first appeared on the menu, about a month ago:

Summer Stew $16.95
smoked pork / cippolini onions / chic peas / prunes / red rice

(with the very notable spelling chic peas and with the misspelling cippolini for cipollini). But now the ingredients list reads:

smoked pork / cippolini onions / chickpeas / dehydrated plums / red rice

(with the notable dehydrated plums). Actually, all four ingredients have linguistic interest.

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