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July 30 2007

A gorram article about swearing. An interesting article on swearing which references Firefly.

Interesting topic. But no mention of Farscape? That's fahrbot.
Well, I read the first sentence, and it's just flat out false, so I had to rant.

We do NOT learn our primary language in school; that's completely absurd.

We learn almost everything we know about language by being around users of language, and by using language, and because our little pea brains are, as they say "wired" to pick up whatever languages happen to be around us.

Sorry, but it just needed to be said.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming....
Oops! That was the SECOND sentence.
Swearing around the Office

An informal poll of HSW staff revealed the following 'alternatives' to swearing -- the words we say when swearing would be inappropriate:

Darn it
Funky tut
Jeep 'n eagle
Son of a monkey
Jeezy creezy
Sweet cheeses
Tartar sauce
Oh, biscuits
Zip -zap

My mother used to "swear" using all those religious-figures-including-saints-names (like Kathy Griffin's mother) - like "Jesus, Mary and Joseph" and "Saints preserve us" and "Jesusmaryandallthesaints".

And I frakkin' love "Jeezy creezy" - which I learned from our Queen Wonderlandwiggins at Goners, and now overuse daily.

But are some of those on the list U.S./regional or sumpin' ? ("the brains of people who pride themselves on being educated respond to slang and 'illiterate' phrases the same way they do to swearwords.")

I ain't done never heard anyone use Funky tut, Shang-a-lang, Zip -zap, Tartar sauce, Sweet cheeses, Oh, biscuits, Jeep 'n eagle, Son of a monkey or Mother-scratcher as expletives around the office or anywhere else.

I have, however, heard: spit, shoot, crap, heck, jeez, gosh, crackers, oh, fudge and so on...
tehabwa said:

We do NOT learn our primary language in school; that's completely absurd.

Yeah, but the article actually says "most other language rules", which is true.

Oh, and QuoterGal, I had a roommate who never swore and definitely said Tartar sauce. And fudge, of course. But my personal fave of hers was "Sugar, honey and iced tea!"
Where was she from? I don't doubt at all that people use those phrases; I'm just trying to learn what comes from where... I'm from the two U.S. coasts, and I know all too few from the mid-West, so wouldn't mind picking up a few.

In so-called RL, I swear like a sailor myself, so for online, I've developed a whole new set of sanitized expletives so as not to be offensive to those who get put off by the genuine article. I especially love the old-time and sorta backwoodsy ones like dagnabit and consarnit - I dunno why, but they almost give the same satisfaction as using something more... well, Anglo-Saxon.
The greatest of them all, of course! was Father Ted......feck!!!!!!!!
I haven't read the article yet, but the subject of language, particularly what we collectively choose to label "cursing" is one I have a strong opinion on.

See, a given word only means what it does because we all agree it does. So if I were to use "fudge" in an expletive manner, and everyone obviously knows what I'm ACTUALLY saying, than how is that any different than just saying "fuck" and being done with it?

And of course that's ignoring how stupid I consider the entire notion of "bad words" to begin with...
Yeah, I've never heard of any of those (Tartar sauce?) either.


What I use is "Barf!" (in extremities, it's "mega cat barf")
Yeah, but the article actually says "most other language rules", which is true.

Hmm, not convinced about that either. I think that's still from other people, we just don't know what they're called until we learn about them in school. Even pre-school, kids have a reasonable grasp of most aspects of grammar (maybe excepting irregular verbs, tenses and plurals, but that's mainly down to experience of usage). In other words I think we partly extract 'rules' from our use of language, we don't just (or even mainly IMO) apply external rules to our usage (or if we do they're learned from parents before they're learned at school).

My Mum passed on the use of 'sugar' to me and my sibs, it's handy because you have the first phoneme to decide if 'shit' is inappropriate and correct yourself. 'Fiddlesticks' is another one i've heard a fair bit in the UK (only heard of about 5 or 6 of the euphemisms on that list though - shoot, dagnabit, jebus, poop, darn and oy - though I didn't realise 'oy' was a euphemism, I thought it was just a mild Yiddish exclamation).

I kind of agree with Haunt too, in that, to me, 'f*ck' or 'feck' or 'f-bomb' or the like still plants the work 'fuck' in people's brains so i'm not really sure who it's serving (personally I always - almost subconsciously - translate those as I read anyway). I know people are doing it to try to be more polite/less offensive but, to me, it's still, basically, swearing. So why not just swear ? Then we can all enjoy it guilt-free ;). Also true that words only have as much power as we give them and not just swearwords (I actually struggle to say 'nigger' out loud for instance and just typing it then made me uncomfortable, if I wasn't making a deliberate point I'd edit it to 'n-word' and such is its power that almost all English speakers would know what I meant even then).

Favourites ? I like 'fucktard' as an insult (even though, or rather because, it's not that PC). Like stringing swear words together too (inspired, I must admit, by the gloriously expressive opening of 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' and it's string of 'fuck's and 'fuckity fuck's followed by the hilariously mild 'Bugger' ;). I also reckon 'prick' may be due for a resurgence, very underrated swearword 'prick', think it's the hard 'k' that makes it.

(I keep the 'big gun' back most of the time though and even then almost never apply it to people, mainly because I want to have one word that I still consider 'proper' swearing for those occasions when nothing else will quite cut the mustard)
I think fucktard is wonderful. I save it for monstrous idiots.

And for some reason, I really like calling someone hateful a "crap weasle."

I'm not fond of swear-euphemisms, either - I've just adopted it as a time-and-grief-saver, because people are already gonna spend so much time objecting to what I say. I'd rather have them cut to that chase and skip all the standard objecting to my "swearing."

I will remember to my dying day the hilarious & priceless look on my Mother's face the first time she used "Fuck" in my presence... I was in my 40's and yet she was still appalled that she said it in front of me...

I also think they have more power when used a tad sparingly, and I wish I could remember that when talking about our government here...
I could be wrong, but I think the stringing swear words together thing may partially be a German influence. They tend to make big compound words out of all words, cusses being no exception.
Haunt, I wonder the same thing myself. I try to avoid "fuck" - it really bothers my dad, and I sympathise with his reasoning - that it twists a good thing into a bad thing.

Oy and oy vey aren't euphemisms for anything; they're just Yiddish exclamations.

I'm a "crippity crap" girl myself. Or sometimes I just say "expletive".
Isn't "Tartar Sauce" from Spongebob? That's the first place I ever heard it used, and my 11 yr old says it all the time.

I like Fuckwit (thanks, Bridget Jones), and agree with Saje that Prick isn't used often enough (though in my house it has been known to get quite a workout. You're shocked, I can tell...). Sonofabitch is great if you say it really fast with emphasis on the last syllable, and thanks to the aptly-named Al Swearengen, the old nugget Cocksucker has rejoined my vocabulary.

I saw this article on FARK, and was going to post it because of the Ff reference, but didn't think it was mentioned enough. Glad someone did. Fun thread!
On the subject of favorites...


Syphilated cum-bubble

...oh, and favorite all-purpose run-on potty mouth line? "Fuck me in the goat ass".
Wanna get into stringing, do we?

OK, here's my fave -- OK, I'm too chicken to actually type in here, but

"Rooster"-"using a straw" son of a mother "fornicating" bitch

The cadence is

da da-da DA of a da-da da-da DA

It's my own invention; I'm very proud.

Basically, it's just son of a bitch as a scaffolding for the, uh, other two expressions.

It's a very satisfying thing to say.

About the "we don't learn language in school" thing: 3 year olds know the rules (in the sense of using the rules).

Irregulars are kinda interesting. A kid who for months correctly says "brought" and "went" will suddenly start saying "bringed" and "goed" for a while, before switching back.

What's going on is, at first, you mimic what you hear.

Then, around 3, you unconsciously grasp the rules. You apply them even to irregulars for a while.

Without instruction, you go back to treating them as irregulars.

But when you look at before formal grammar education kids, they use rules to construct sentences (they don't utter words in any old order, and they conjugate, mostly correctly).

They can't tell you the names of parts of speech, or diagram sentences, but they have internalized the rules, and use them correctly, on the whole.

About euphemisms: my grandmother was fond of "fiddle-faddle" -- among other things. (Dunno why, she was quite the cusser, and didn't usually hold back, but now and then would clean it up.)
Wow, just seen the first paragraph of Jane Esp's blog from yesterday. Synchronicity or what, reckon there must've been something in the air. I'd mention great minds thinking alike but then somebody would only chime in with "Ah, but fools seldom differ" (and that'd be unfair. To Jane and tehabwa at least ;).

That's really interesting about kids 'discovering' a rule and then sort of retro-actively mis-applying it to words they were using correctly previously, jibes with experience too. So it takes them a while to realise that there is such a thing as irregular verbs and that they have to treat them as exceptions ? Not looked into it but do the artificial languages (e.g. Esperanto) avoid irregular verbs completely ? Wonder if their rules are easier or harder to 'extract' ? Shame you're not really meant to experiment on people ;).

I do like 'asshat' though I doubt i'd use it in casual conversation (and 'arsehat' doesn't sound as good). Cock-smoker's pretty good too, I use 'donkey chuffer' a fair bit ('chuff' is a slang word for fuck over here, as well as, in context, meaning generally happy e.g. "He was chuffed to bits with his new jigsaw").

septic cock-bag
motherfucking-shit-fucker - not inspired but boy, satisfying ;)
shite - with the 'e' and so the 'y' sound it always sounds harsher
And yeah Willowy, fuckwit's an oldie but goodie

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