Grawlixes (aka obscenicons) past and present
July 17, 2010 1:12 PM   Subscribe

"By 'grawlixes', I mean icons representing unprintable words, occurring within speech balloons belonging to characters who are agitated." – Gwillim Law. Via Ben Zimmer's post at Language Log on Obscenicons a century ago.
posted by Stan Carey (18 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
posted by loquacious at 1:15 PM on July 17, 2010


I'm not doing this right, am I?
posted by Navelgazer at 1:19 PM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

posted by Fizz at 1:20 PM on July 17, 2010

ah, the grawlix formerly known as Prince :)
posted by infini at 1:23 PM on July 17, 2010

Best use of grawlixes ever in my opinion.
posted by komara at 1:24 PM on July 17, 2010 [7 favorites]

You know who else used the swastika to signify something unpleasant?

I've seen it in American comics, is what I'm getting at here.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:38 PM on July 17, 2010

Like so.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:40 PM on July 17, 2010

posted by jtron at 1:43 PM on July 17, 2010

Ozy and Millie uses grawlixes in a fourth-wall-breakingly great (and cute) way.
posted by ZsigE at 1:49 PM on July 17, 2010

posted by mazola at 1:49 PM on July 17, 2010

It's interesting to see, in the second link, a predominance of shift-number keyboard characters around the mid-80s, even with the text being drawn and not typed.
posted by maus at 2:01 PM on July 17, 2010

If I were allowed to participate in Unicode Consortium meetings, I would so be introducing an agenda item based on this FPP. (It's probably good for Unicode that I'm not.) Related: I will be watching carefully for the first appearance of the new rupee symbol in a grawlix.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 2:28 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

this is interesting - mostly because it's actually easy to figure out what's being said
posted by pyramid termite at 2:31 PM on July 17, 2010

I'm surprised there hasn't been more controversy over the title of "$#*! My Dad Says", the upcoming sitcom based on the "Shit My Dad Says" twitter account, partly because the grawlixes "$#*!" very much resemble "Shit" (and if you haven't already heard about it, yes, it's for real and not a bad joke or mass hallucination and they got Shatner to star as Dad and they're using the promo slogan "The Shat Hits the Fan "). But maybe Dilbert's use of "$%@# *ӨU" that pyramid termite linked to is leading the way toward transparent grawlix awareness. (And besides I've heard of "fuck you money" before, so the idea is not new) Although if you wanted a more transparent grawlix, I'd recommend "£µ¢& ¥Øµ" or "£¿¢& ¥Ø¿" if the mu is a little too obvious, ₪Ø+#€®£µ¢&€®.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:27 PM on July 17, 2010

A classic from the sports pages (and the glory days of Fire Joe Morgan): "#$!&@* the heck?"
posted by micturator at 4:25 PM on July 17, 2010

I always loved the Tintin grawlixes, which I recognized at once from the Anglicized reprints I read as a child. Apparently they kept the original form even in translation.
posted by immlass at 5:12 PM on July 17, 2010

On July 4 this year, Beetle Bailey lampshaded the convention a little.
posted by kurumi at 5:46 PM on July 17, 2010

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