Wankpuffin. Arsebadger. Addle pate. Ferme ta gueule. Joder. Fuckety bye.
September 6, 2018 1:40 PM   Subscribe

(Obviously NSFW) Esquire: "Google searches for 'cockwomble' levelled out to roughly 20 or 30 a week in the UK in the first half of this year, but then spiked in the 70s in mid-July." Pleated jeans: 18 British swear words. Mirror: "...to which Manon replied: "Yeah, well it's you [Noel] fast asleep and Sandy is f***ed off because you’re late." Listen and Learn: 10 Old English swear words. indy100: British swear words ordered in terms of offensiveness. Malcolm Tucker is upset. Talk in French: 20 French curse words. The Culture Trip: 15 Spanish swear words. And the intersection of Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Wire. [Previously and previouslyer]
posted by Wordshore (30 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite


 
I immediately thought of this Hollow Men sketch.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:46 PM on September 6 [1 favorite]


Câline de binne, those aren't French curse words.

These are French curse words, câlice tabarnak.
posted by GuyZero at 1:48 PM on September 6 [5 favorites]


Doh! I missed out the most obvious link of all in the post. From 2010: "Metafilter mods Jessamyn West and Josh Millard recite selected insults from this Ask Metafilter thread."

I really am a useless fuckwit.
posted by Wordshore at 2:06 PM on September 6 [6 favorites]


These are French curse words, câlice tabarnak.

Only in Quebec, whose culture began diverging from France before the French Revolution, and where Catholicism remained more culturally powerful.
posted by acb at 2:09 PM on September 6 [3 favorites]


Wordshore, the tags on this post are amazing.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 2:12 PM on September 6 [11 favorites]


this is relevant to my interests, you ^%%^&%%&*^%^@$^@$@^&$#&^#%&^%&%trumpetfucknozzle
posted by lalochezia at 2:13 PM on September 6 [1 favorite]


The only french swear word that is really needed is 'putain'. All the others are things to learn once you have the entire rest of the language down.
posted by srboisvert at 2:21 PM on September 6 [1 favorite]


Malcolm Tucker had some of the greatest lines, but this is my very favorite.

"That's it, is she fucked then?"
"Like Caligula's favorite watermelon."
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 2:24 PM on September 6 [3 favorites]


The British tendency to invent babytalk slang is fascinating. Partly because the accent is often touted as being "superior" or more intellectual over here, despite to me it sounding quite the opposite. Mostly, though, it's just funny. Hearing or imagining real adults calling each other some of these things just tickles me, the words rarely sound malicious or even insulting, often just like a weird babytalk wordsalad as if you had just a really rude, cussin' baby around. It extends to other things too, not just insults are subject to the infantilization.
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:14 PM on September 6 [1 favorite]


British people are babyish, GoblinHoney? Cool story, bro.

Here's my favourite English language examination of another country's swearing:
I particularly like how recursion – the syntactic process that gives us “this is the cat that chased the rat that ate the malt … ” – applies to these noun phrases, giving us Pute de merde de chien (“Bloody dog!”) and Putain de bordel de merde!, loosely translated as “For fuck’s sake!”
posted by ambrosen at 3:33 PM on September 6 [4 favorites]


Only in Quebec

yes, thus the link to the article titled "13 Quebecois Swear Words that Confuse the French", ostie de colon
posted by GuyZero at 4:09 PM on September 6 [2 favorites]


Also, the idea of there being a canonical list or enumerable hierarchy of British Swears sounds a bit odd; British Swearing seems to be not so much a fixed list of words as a fluid, generative process, a sort of universal grammar of profanity layered with irony and self-deprecation, recombining profanities with innocent words like a fuel-air explosive of Pythonesque absurdity. And sufficiently advanced British Swearing will omit the profanity altogether, letting it suggest itself by context (i.e., the way prefixing anything with “absolute” or “utter” will immediately cast it into the nearest semi-plausible obscene innuendo, i.e., “you utter faucet”*

(Also, “bloodclaat” is originally from Jamaican patois, and its profanity power comes from Rastafarianism's somewhat unprogressive menstrual taboo; a less offensive word is “bumbaclot”, which translates into American as “asswipe”.)

* I was amused to find that, near where I worked recently, there was a barber shop called the Absolute Barber Shop, which sounded like something you might exasperatedly call someone who inconvenienced you through thoughtlessness.
posted by acb at 4:43 PM on September 6 [17 favorites]


The only french swear word that is really needed is 'putain'

The Polish/Slavic cognate is kurwa, which is also commonly used as punctuation.
posted by acb at 4:50 PM on September 6 [3 favorites]


> The only french swear word that is really needed is 'putain'

Or maybe the only word you need....
posted by invokeuse at 4:58 PM on September 6 [1 favorite]


Once, in (US) grad school, a Liverpudlian classmate of mine turned to me in a moment of frustration and just shouted “BALLS. BALLS ON TOAST.” This changed me forever.

I grew up in a corner of Canada where everybody used “fuckin’ “ as a sort of rhythmic filler word that connected all the other parts of the sentence together.

A couple of years ago, I moved to the UK and became acquainted with Northern English and Scottish insults and honestly I don’t think humanity will do better.
posted by LMGM at 7:51 PM on September 6 [3 favorites]


My best Canadian insult is "Get in the fuckin' clue canoe, ya rumchucker!" The rumchucker will then likely call me a "toquefuck" and we get on with the field party/bare knuckle brawl/open heart surgery, or whatever Canuck ruckus we got going.
posted by moneyjane at 9:32 PM on September 6 [4 favorites]


Wordshore, the tags on this post are amazing.
...Brexit.
posted by winterhill at 3:56 AM on September 7 [5 favorites]


I grew up in a corner of Canada where everybody used “fuckin’ “ as a sort of rhythmic filler word that connected all the other parts of the sentence together

My husband is from Northern Ireland, and I swear he and his friends use swearing as a form of punctuation.

I now think single-word swearing is for amateurs, for really good swearing it's like a pick-n-mix where you assemble the most offensive phrase you can in the heat of the moment. And it's creative! I will defend it as an artform.

I was amused to find that, near where I worked recently, there was a barber shop called the Absolute Barber Shop, which sounded like something you might exasperatedly call someone who inconvenienced you through thoughtlessness

There is a placing near me called Genting Casino, and I always think it makes "genting" sound like a polite way to say fucking or something.
posted by stillnocturnal at 4:13 AM on September 7 [2 favorites]


I am reminded of legendary restauranteur Georges Perrier, of whom it was said that he swore like a drunken sailor constantly in his kitchen -- but the staff took no notice unless it was in FRENCH. English swearing was to break tension; swearing in one's native language, however, COUNTS.

Also, there's my system of swearing at video games. If my wife hears me swear in short, one-word bursts, she knows that I am in normal operating mode. If she hears randomly generated streams of non sequitur profanity, however, that's when it's time to calm her Idiot Husband down.

"son of a ratbastard asshole shitbag mother fucking piece of" "Honey? Decaf."
posted by delfin at 6:32 AM on September 7 [2 favorites]


I am trying (and failing) to understand how "fanny" can possibly be considered more obscene than "son of a bitch" or "arsehole"... this is the kind of language barrier where an innocuous word can get you in deep trouble.

F'r example, a colleague of mine (from Chile) once told me about the time he asked for a straw in another Spanish-speaking country, only to find himself being threatened with immediate and forceful ejection from the bar. Turns out the word he used for "straw" was local slang for fellatio, and the (female) bartender did not take it well.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:58 AM on September 7 [1 favorite]


I heard that the term “ratbastard” was actually coined by L. Ron Hubbard in one of his pulp novels.
posted by acb at 12:51 PM on September 7 [1 favorite]


This is the first time the tag for “fud” has been used properly as far as I can tell.
posted by gnuhavenpier at 2:23 PM on September 7 [1 favorite]


Ctrl-F pimhole

ಠ_ಠ
posted by farlukar at 3:03 PM on September 7 [1 favorite]


That Esquire piece is absolutely spot on, especially You know who'd call someone a cockwomble? Marcus Brigstocke.

Though you can pry 'piss wizard' from my hot, wet hands - suppose I'll have to start emphasising the space between the words.

Similarly, there seems to be a nice backlash brewing against those 'every Scottish term of abuse you can think of randomly piled together' type insults that you see collected by Buzzfeed after every Trump protest - 'Get tae fuck an bile yer heid ya pure bawbag glaikit roaster fud bam nugget. Also yer da sells avon an yer maw punts cooncil.' Ugh. Even as an English person I can tell how desperate and mannered that stuff is. (Compare and contrast with Janey Godley's perfectly succinct 'Trump Is A Cunt'.)

I am trying (and failing) to understand how "fanny" can possibly be considered more obscene than "son of a bitch" or "arsehole"

It isn't more obscene, in the UK at least - it's barely even a rude word, equivalent to numpty, prannet or ninny. I mean, you can tell a small child to stop being a fanny without anyone batting an eyelid, but calling a small child an arsehole would be awful.
posted by jack_mo at 3:57 PM on September 7 [3 favorites]


What you people need is Roger's Profanisaurus.
posted by Paul Slade at 5:05 PM on September 7 [1 favorite]


People may enjoy How to Behave Badly in Renaissance Britain by Ruth Goodman (of Tudor Farm and other such programs).
posted by poxandplague at 7:49 PM on September 7 [1 favorite]


The problem is that they're not. This is decidedly un-Tuckerish and suffocatingly twee stuff. Despite the apparent coarseness, this 'inventive' swearing is on the same continuum as swing dancing and having Live Laugh Love wall decals in your kitchen, suitable only for New European readers who really, really, really like Blackadder and call each other 'sir' on Twitter.

Oh thank god for this article. The suffocating prevelance of these twee compound swears online has grated on me for years, and I've never been able to have my annoyance at it corroborated. For people who think Stephen Fry is a genius. Argh. I feel so seen.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:55 PM on September 7 [1 favorite]


Jack_Mo, totally agree that since Scottish Twitter blew up, undoubtedly due to some genuinely very funny fuckers in the original core, it's been swamped with the most ancient, hack jokes simply put through a weird Google Scots Translate to freshen them up. This hit a nadir for me lately when one tweet was literally just "Chinese people sound like ching chong ching" but in faux Scots which apparently made it... charming and fresh and not massively racist?
posted by ominous_paws at 12:05 AM on September 8 [1 favorite]


hack jokes simply put through a weird Google Scots Translate to freshen them up.

Yeah, that Scottish Disney princess thing that did the rounds recently was a great example of this. E.g., look at the fucking state of this tweet:
MEHBEH if YE had a fookin BAHS-NAHS that YE were PASHINATE abuit then ye wyd NOO wat et takes ta rune a fookin’ BAHSNAHS but ye doont! Suh doont ahct lyk ye noo wat aym talken abuit!
Fookin'! Read aloud it sounds like someone from Boston - the American one - doing an impression of Liam Gallagher doing an impression of the Swedish chef off the Muppets.

There was an interesting thread in response to the meme, resting on the idea that 'Scotland is both colonised and colonising', and the fact that non-Scots often fail to understand that the language of Scottish Twitter is explicitly urban and working class.

Yours, a middle-class English-accented man who naturally says/enjoys saying Scots words, because I used to live in Glasgow/am a vile colonial oppressor. If you need me I'll be catching up on Fags, Mags & Bags, enjoying a knowing chuckle when someone says 'fud' or references a town I once passed through on the train to Edinburgh. ;-)
posted by jack_mo at 5:21 AM on September 8 [4 favorites]


What a load of Shotts, jack_mo
posted by GeckoDundee at 2:27 PM on September 8 [2 favorites]


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