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the demise of the fuck
October 22, 2003 5:39 PM   Subscribe

Further verification that fuck is fucked. The gradual emasculation of a word once obscene.
posted by the fire you left me (54 comments total)

 
Is it no longer obscene? And if it isn't, what is?

"liberal" is climbing the ladder toward unspeakable these days.
posted by scarabic at 5:49 PM on October 22, 2003


Card-carrying liberal, scarabic. If you're not carry your card...
posted by billsaysthis at 5:51 PM on October 22, 2003


billsayswhat?
posted by scarabic at 5:54 PM on October 22, 2003


"liberal" is climbing the ladder toward unspeakable these days.

Only in their persecution complex induced dreams. Trust me those in power find you far too meaningless and ineffectual to consider unspeakable, but hey enjoy your wishful thinking.
posted by jonmc at 5:56 PM on October 22, 2003


disregarding the humorless, I use the f-word incredibly casually myself, especially in my spoken English. It offends neither me, nor my friends, nor my family, nor my coworkers. I can't think of much of anyone in my world who is offended. I attended a conference recently where the word was used early and often.

And yet, I and mine still make an effort not to use the word around children, and god forbid one of them should bust out with the f-daddy. Why? I don't really get it, and it must be quite confusing for them too.
posted by scarabic at 6:02 PM on October 22, 2003


wtf?
posted by quonsar at 6:18 PM on October 22, 2003


I can honestly say that I love to say Fuck. That is fucking all.
posted by angry modem at 6:18 PM on October 22, 2003


I have used swear words less often as I grew up, and I think I have a good explanation ready for my kids. Nothing moral about it: there's extra-special zip and power in taboo words. So it's worth keeping some taboo just to have them around. And if you use them all the time, they lose that extra-specialness.
posted by freebird at 6:21 PM on October 22, 2003


"Nigger is far more taboo than fuck or even cunt."

the whole article was done on a wager to see if they could get this by the editor.
posted by quonsar at 6:22 PM on October 22, 2003


nigger, and even mad, are quite taboo.

Mad?? That's... that's crazy talk!
posted by languagehat at 6:26 PM on October 22, 2003


Well, in the UK, don't they use "cunt" and "twat" the way some people in the US use "dick" and "asshole"?

hmm, cunt, twat, and asshole aren't in mefi's dictionary.
posted by xian at 6:26 PM on October 22, 2003


somewhere, somehow or another, i just know johnnydark is behind this post.
posted by quonsar at 6:29 PM on October 22, 2003


if you use them all the time, they lose that extra-specialness

True. I still get pretty good mileage out of cockass, come to think of it. It is simultaneously noun and adjective, which occasionally makes possible the unholiest of unholies: cockass-cockass.
posted by scarabic at 6:31 PM on October 22, 2003


The Anatomy of Swearing

It argues that the power of the word comes from the taboos of the day. Just as "Bloody" and "Damn" lost their power as society became less concerned with religion, "Fuck" loses it's power as we become less upset over sexuality. Today, the ultimate words of offensiveness come from the topic that is the most sensitive: race.
posted by 4easypayments at 6:32 PM on October 22, 2003


WHAT.
THE.
FUCK.
posted by moonbird at 6:51 PM on October 22, 2003


the ultimate words of offensiveness come from the topic that is the most sensitive

Ah yes. That makes all kinds of sense. So does this mean that to get attention from now on, we need to say:

What. The. Gay. Married. Aborted. Welfare. Mother. Under. God. Matt?
posted by scarabic at 7:06 PM on October 22, 2003


So does this mean that to get attention from now on, we need to say:

What. The. Gay. Married. Aborted. Welfare. Mother. Under. God. Matt?


I've actually heard kids go "what the gay?" instead of "what the fuck?". Of course, now instead of sounding vulgar they end up sounding just plain stupid.
posted by krazykity16 at 7:14 PM on October 22, 2003


WHAT.
THE.
FUCK.


?????
Profit!
posted by me3dia at 7:26 PM on October 22, 2003


You shouldn't say fuck.
No you shouldn't say fuck.
Fuck no!
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:26 PM on October 22, 2003


I think we are all shooting ourselves in the foot. What are we going to do when swearing is blase and tv is straight porn? It may turn out that someone should have warned us that the zest of breaking convention wasn't a renewable resource.
posted by rudyfink at 8:02 PM on October 22, 2003


When you get down to it, "fuck" is just a verb.

The "where" and "with what" are the fun parts.
posted by groundhog at 8:13 PM on October 22, 2003


Well I love swearing, and I'm particularly fond of the words fuck and cunt, of which the latter is, at least within my social milieu, far more offensive. A usage which I have recently adopted is to replace fucking with cunting, as in "it took cunting quarter of an hour just to get a beer!"

I have always assumed a priori that the social rehabilitation of such words would simply give rise to new, more offensive words, but there don't seem to be any replacement cuss-words rushing to fill the void (words such as nigger or paki (mentioned in the article) are limited in their applicability) ... perhaps rudyfink is right? It's a scary thought.
posted by nomis at 8:25 PM on October 22, 2003


I say swear creatively or don't swear at all, you weasel-dicked cuntocopters.

Also, didn't we have this exact same thread like a few weeks ago? It was pretty dumb then, too.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:33 PM on October 22, 2003


I can't think of much of anyone in my world who is offended.

You must travel in very limited circles indeed, then.

It was pretty dumb then, too.

Yep.
posted by rushmc at 8:39 PM on October 22, 2003


An old friend of mine blessed me with this expletive: bloody Christ fuck
This for my money is perhaps the rudest thing a person in Christendom can say and also the funniest (second only to ass-canteloupe).
Is that hyphenated?
posted by nasim at 9:00 PM on October 22, 2003


I prefer to sling them together like Jules Feiffer: You ballbusting, castrating, son of whore bitch cunt!
posted by dobbs at 9:25 PM on October 22, 2003


Why did the poster call the gradual acceptance in society of a curse word its "emasculation"? That makes no sense. The Guardian article actually went to great pains not to use such a loaded term.

To say that society has stopped being quite so offended by the word means that the word no longer has its balls? Well, hell. Women fuck, too! In fact, I know a shitload of women who like fucking in all its glory. And I know most of those women would never consider "fuck" to be a verb describing what a man does to a woman. Because hell, yeah, women fuck men all over the place - righteously - if they know what the fuck they're doing.

So anyway. I love the linguistic fun in the Guardian article. But the poster irritated me with the "emasculation" thing.

Now you can have your fucking thread back.
posted by acridrabbit at 9:27 PM on October 22, 2003


Belgium, man, belgium.
posted by keswick at 9:39 PM on October 22, 2003


What a bunch of ass wanking cockmongers.
posted by Ptrin at 10:08 PM on October 22, 2003


"what the fucking fuck" was still memorable for its impact when used in 6' under last year.

Factor your fucks for maximum effect.
posted by BentPenguin at 10:21 PM on October 22, 2003


An old friend of mine blessed me with this expletive: bloody Christ fuck. This for my money is perhaps the rudest thing a person in Christendom can say and also the funniest (second only to ass-canteloupe).

Nasim: the Argentinians often exclaim "Concha de Dios!", which means "cunt of God!".

My first novel, btw, was called O Amor É Fodido and, though it made #1 for several months, was sold ready-wrapped and under the counter in the more traditional bookshops of Portugal; i.e. most of them.

A rough translation would be "Fucking Love". The bestseller chart listed it as O Amor É ******.

This was in 1994, so not so long ago.

Some fucker, I now see, seems to have put the whole fucking novel online.

*dials his lawyers Sue, Grabbit and Run*
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:52 PM on October 22, 2003


Hrm, perhaps "Niggerfucker" might work? Or Pakifucker for those in the UK. I know I would be quite offended.
posted by delmoi at 11:07 PM on October 22, 2003


"Cuntscab" and "Bloody fucking mother of Christ" are personal favs.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 11:21 PM on October 22, 2003


What's so wrong with "spastic"?
posted by kickingtheground at 11:32 PM on October 22, 2003


Compounding or elision is the way forward. Fuckshitwanker is always a personal fave & covers a decent gamut.
posted by i_cola at 12:28 AM on October 23, 2003


I, for fucking one, welcome my new fucking sentence enhancer!
posted by grefo at 5:36 AM on October 23, 2003


Mad?? That's... that's crazy talk!

Every now and then, something like this throws my comfortable Aussie-living-in-the-UK assumptions out the window. I'm used to various mundane Australian English words having sniggering or taboo connotations here... 'pants', 'toilet', and even (as I learned when raving to friends about an Australian film of that name) 'chopper'. But 'mad', taboo? As taboo as 'nigger'? That's mad.

What does the BBC do when it repeats the 'Mad Gerald' episode of Blackadder? Bleep out Rik Mayall saying, 'Yes I'm very mad thank you. Maaad. That's a word I know. I say that every day. I say, "Good morning Mad Gerald, how are you today?", and then I say, "I'm completely mad today thank you", and then I say, "Oh so there's not much change there then is there Gerald?", and I say, "No, well you'd be mad to expect any wouldn't you?", then I say, "But I am mad. I'm Mad Gerald..."'?

And what about repeats of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World? Will it be retitled, for family viewing, 'The World is Fucked, Fucked, Fucked, Fucked'?
posted by rory at 5:37 AM on October 23, 2003


From The Boondock Saints:

Rocco: Fucking... What the fucking fuck! Who the fuck fucked this fucking... How did you two fucking fucks... FUCK!
Conner MacManus: Well it... certainly illustrates the diversity of the word.
posted by bunnytricks at 6:01 AM on October 23, 2003


Smurfy!
posted by jennyb at 7:30 AM on October 23, 2003


Some fucker, I now see, seems to have put the whole fucking novel online.

Uh-huh. If you go to the linked site and try to read the book, you get this:

Para ter o prazer de ler esta obra de Miguel Esteves Cardoso é favor:


comprar o livro!


Or, in the Universal Language, "If you want to have the pleasure of reading this work by Miguel Esteves Cardoso... buy the book!"

Muito fucking divertido, Miguel.
posted by languagehat at 8:14 AM on October 23, 2003


Oh, for the love of fucking.....
posted by elwoodwiles at 9:06 AM on October 23, 2003


Rory: I'm used to various mundane Australian English words having sniggering or taboo connotations here.
I wonder what the root of that problem is. I reckon we should just root around, see if we can root it out.
What's that Rory... Snigger... Snigger. I don't understand... What's so funny.
posted by seanyboy at 9:33 AM on October 23, 2003


Maybe fuck shouldn't be so fucking persecuted, after all.
posted by Dasein at 9:37 AM on October 23, 2003


I didn't say it was a bad thing, seanyboy. I chuckle at the cross-cultural implications of non-Australian business names with the best of 'em.

But I still can't believe that 'mad' is now considered taboo in the UK. Guardian, I want proof, not just some insinuation that it demeans the mentally handicapped. Three-letter words dating back to the 13th century shouldn't be ejected from the language just because some newspaper article says so.

If all they mean is that it isn't polite to call the mentally ill 'mad' to their face, that's one thing; but to suggest that the word 'mad' has become as inherently taboo, or almost as taboo, as 'nigger' is quite another. Are they mad? What kind of madness is this? Are we living in some kind of madhouse?
posted by rory at 10:05 AM on October 23, 2003


Good timing on the article--just yesterday, around 6 p.m., I was mildly (but pleasantly) surprised to hear the uncensored version of Nookie on a local radio station.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:15 AM on October 23, 2003


Wait...you sonically assaulted by a limp bizkit song...and were pleasantly surprised?
posted by kickingtheground at 2:21 PM on October 23, 2003


my fave usage (use "stoner" voice for maximum effect):
"...so he says, 'Fuck the fuckin' party, the fuckin' party's fucked,'...I mean, how does he come up with that shit?" from Eric Bogosian's "Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll."
posted by Badmichelle at 2:27 PM on October 23, 2003


I feel obliged after noting Rory's comment to remind everybody how sniggeringly amusing the term fanny pack is to those of us who speak dialects other than US English.
posted by nomis at 3:50 PM on October 23, 2003


".......the one magical word which just by its sound can describe pain, pleasure, hate and love - fuck falls into many grammatical categories, as a transitive verb, for instance: 'John fucked Shirley.' As an intransitive verb: 'Shirley fucks.' It's meaning is not always sexual; it can be used as an adjective, such as 'John is doing all the fucking work'; as part of an adverb: 'Shirley talks too fucking much'; as an adverb enhancing an adjective: 'Shirley is fucking beautiful'; as a noun: 'I don't give a fuck'; as part of a word: 'abso-fucking-lutely' or 'in-fucking-credible'; and as almost every word in the sentence: 'Fuck the fucking fuckers.' "

Fcuk! That's one fucking flexible word.
posted by troutfishing at 10:06 PM on October 23, 2003


But I still can't believe that 'mad' is now considered taboo in the UK

It's not. I don't understand why anyone would say it is.
posted by Summer at 2:47 AM on October 24, 2003


Thanks, Summer. A relief to know I'm not going mad.
posted by rory at 3:24 AM on October 24, 2003


I have to say that the word 'cunt' is still a taboo in the UK. Twat is not.

You all know where I work by now, and the word is even rarely used in our office, appart from in the 'stories'. Strange.

[george carlin]Fuck the fucking fuckers[/george carlin]
posted by twine42 at 6:25 AM on October 24, 2003


Used with enough vitriol and sincerity I think 'cunt' is still capable of being very, very hurtful.
posted by Summer at 8:08 AM on October 24, 2003


The canonical example of the use of 'fuck' for every possible part of speech in a single sentence is the alleged utterance of a soldier whose rifle jammed in a firefight:

"Fuck! The fucking fucker's fucking fucked!"

Used with enough vitriol and sincerity I think 'cunt' is still capable of being very, very hurtful.

I don't see why vitriol and sincerity are required. It's about the only swear word I'd be shocked to hear, or reluctant to say in a mixed-company group of friends.
posted by kindall at 9:22 AM on October 24, 2003


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