Saturday, 22 June 2013

Something beginning with C

The other day I had the biggest laugh that I’ve had since, oh, I don’t know when  (well, actually I do: since reading your comments on Chas’n’ a multitude of Daves, if you refer to the previous post…)  Anyway, I laughed aloud - a rare thing - when I read an email from a friend whom I respect and admire, in which they called me something beginning with C.  And I don’t mean my name.  Nor do I mean Chipmunk, Cherry-pie, Coo Ca Choo or anything else similarly Cute or Cheeky.  No. You know which word I mean.

It made me laugh because it was so out there and unexpected, and at the same time I was actually strangely honoured that someone felt so relaxed with me that they knew I wouldn’t take offence; in fact, quite the opposite.  I found it so funny and so outrageously perfect in the context (i.e. playful) that it had the best impact it could have had.  And it’s just one word.  What power!

It’s still a kind of last resort word, isn’t it? Still the one we rarely hear on TV and then only with a salutary caution beforehand about the “VERY strong language”.  It’s that ‘VERY’ which is the clue now, and we can take it from that emphasis that they don’t mean shit or piss or even fuck; the days of being pissed off at some fucking shit on TV are no longer worthy of warnings.

Thing is, I don’t mind the word, although I fully understand why it makes a lot of people uncomfortable.  I’ve thought for a long while that it’s a shame in many ways that slang for female genitalia is considered one of the most derogatory and pejorative in the English language, but then I suppose you could apply the same logic to a number of swear words.  I mean:  I’m quite partial to 'fucking', 'cock' and 'bollocks' in the right context (and you can take that any way you like ;-) )   I suppose the key is not to take any of it too seriously.  But the friend who used it to describe me, with the greatest respect, affection and (I imagine) a wicked gleam in their eye, also suggested that the word we're discussing here could be reclaimed in a totally different light.   How about if it replaced expressions for good things?  They proposed that it could be (and I quote) “… installed in urban slang as the new "legend!",  "dog's bollocks" "awesome!" or "sha-mazing!".  A brilliant night out at Kailee's sleepover would become "Mum, it was a right good ----" as would "A full English breakfast - that's just the ----!"

I’d join the campaign for its reinvention, although I do occasionally like to use it in its insulting role purely because of its current place in language - when you need something which goes that bit further than ‘wanker’ or ‘shitbag’ or ‘dickhead’.  I think the fact that it's only one syllable gives it clout too.  Phonetically it’s such a hard word:  blunt and consonanty.  When I use it in that way I am a million miles from thinking about its true definition.  But yes,  I do like the idea of changing its usage into something far more positive.  I think we could possibly slowly alter its application insidiously and virally over time, in the way that language constantly evolves and words like 'sick' and 'gay' have developed into different things over recent decades.  Every now and then, in emails, texts, blogs and conversations, we could just drop it in, casually, but positively, as if it's nothing unusual.  And I give you my blessing if you wish to use it in a comment here, as long as you mean it nicely, of course.

My only problem with that idea is that I still think we need one striking, extra-strong profanity that we can resort to when we want something powerful and extreme if we’re angry, an expression to shock when we crave some extra weight.  If it isn’t going to be that word, then what could it be?


And next week, I'll be discussing wholesome, cute, fluffy kittens. 
Maybe.



29 comments:

  1. You cant......

    Brilliant !

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    1. Thank you!
      And you can, if you want!

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  2. I can't think of a good word to replace it,which is a shame as it should be reclaimed. but im reminded of the seventies NEL pulp paperback Albion Albion where warring tribes of footie fans rule the UK and the biggest insult is to call someone a 'ref' or a 'reffin dick '. C you are, with total respect, a lovely cunt .

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    1. I quite like 'ref'! At least it's not an animal; I always thought it unfair that 'cow', 'pig', 'bitch' etc are used so negatively!

      As for your final word, Bel Mondo: thank you for saying it. It's a perfect example of positive use, because I feel truly, genuinely touched :-)

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    2. PS And that made me laugh!

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  3. You obviously didn't watch Deadwood? That word was in regular usage, in fact Al Swearengen frequently referred to his "employee" and girlfriend Trixie, as "The Loopy C---" so often that it was pretty much her character's name. Boy, I loved that show!

    I think the reason that word for the female genitalia is still taboo is because it's often not used in jest, it's used by morons to put people down precisely because of the female connection whereas anything to do with the male member has become almost joking and affectionate.

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    1. Oh no, I never watched Deadwood nor knew that (but I like the sound of it already!)

      I think you're right about the reason for the taboo. All the more reason for women to embrace it, in a similar stance perhaps to the black reclamation of "the N word"?

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  4. Deadwood aside, if nigger is taboo number One over here...cunt is One A.

    In fact, it may be worse. Nigger comes up all the time...whether it's hip hop, Tarentino, or somebody being fired over having said the word 30 years ago. Then you're faced with grown-ass people talking about the "N word" in hushed tones. I can't think of a better metaphor for the infantile way in which race is discussed in the U.S.

    Cunt has near mystical powers to offend...because it's just not used. To Yve's point, the character Swearengen, the Slimey Limey, was English born. Everybody knows what it means but, it's almost never used. Even in The South where we are hereditary English speakers and a lot of British colloquialisms survive it is never heard...unless you want to clear a room. So to speak.

    You might find it on a bathroom wall...along with the word nigger. Ha

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    1. Fascinating stuff, e.f., thanks. It does strike me as a very English word, and I'm sure its power to offend is being reduced over time here, so it's interesting to know that it is still 'One A' over there. I stepped lightly around the issue of 'nigger'... I don't know how to play it, I'll admit, it just doesn't come up in my daily life and the whole business of what is ok to say (or write) and what isn't just baffles me now. E.g. I heard a while ago that you "can't" describe someone as "stupid" now without it being considered offensive about genuine mental disability. Can you even say 'disability'? I don't know any more. And who makes the 'rules'? I'll just keep quiet. Or stick to 'cunt' :-)

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    2. This post is the dog's cunt.

      Not so long ago, Tiger Woods got in trouble over on your slab for saying he was "playing like a spaz." It caused a lot of confusion over here because spaz has no more cache than goofy. Spastic's not been in an official capacity. Now if he had said I was "playing like a retard" all hell would have broke loose. We don't say retard anymore...we say mentally challenged....when we want to make fun of each other. :)

      In the battle between reality and language, reality crushes language every time.

      Nigger's a good example. That is a word that has been imbued with a lot more power than it had 30 years ago. I don't hear the word as often as some probably think living in Mississippi. Mostly I hear it on my ipad....because I am a fag for the Hip Hop.

      I used to hear it some when I was a kid from older folks...usually without malice. It's always had the power to offend but it wasn't always meant to be offensive. Like redneck, or in my case, Cracker could be offensive at the wrong time in the wrong mouth. I am a bone fide Cracker and proud of it. My family came from England and Scotland hundreds of years ago to an unsettled south Georgia.
      If somebody from Atlanta was to say...
      "You can't tell them Crackers down there nothing." Fine
      If a yankee was to say...
      "Listen you Cracker" it would be go time.

      In the last thirty years or so...the word has been given a kind of magical power as identity and race have gained in power as political issues.

      Fucking retarded.



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    3. Brilliant, ef - all so interesting. 'Spaz' is an absolute no-no over here as you say. As a kid I used to have a neighbour called Sebastian and everyone called him that for short - it worked as a nickname, we children thought nothing of it, but we were then told we must never say it.
      I'd never even heard of the expression 'Cracker' in the way you describe it! Here it's a compliment. "She's a cracker!" "It's a cracker!" as in cracking good / great.
      So - thanks for your great cunt of a comment, you're a cracker :-)

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  5. As someone who needs, from time to time, to reel in the profanity I must say that 'cunt', if used only rarely is the most effective word I can think of to describe the people you really, truly despise. Of course, if you've often it becomes more or less meaningless, so must be reserved for the really big moments. If I ever use the word I really, really mean it.
    I see what you mean about a rebranding but I'd rather keep it the way it is.

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    1. Indeed - we need that one word. It does the job. And I like the word. But as you say it needs to be reserved for the big moments, so if its power becomes so reduced that it no longer works we'll have to come up with something else eventually. I reckon that ought to actually mean something unpleasant. Like, erm, I dunno "germ"? or "bile" ?!

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  6. When the time comes to replace the word in
    question, after your proposed rebranding is
    complete, I suggest we each reverse the
    process and upgrade a currently totally
    innocent word of our own choosing to the
    level of utterly profane. The beauty of this
    system is that whoever is on the receiving
    end of the 'swearing' will be aware of the
    intended insult, while an unassuming passer
    by should remain blissfully unaware, however
    passionate the delivery.

    As an example, when I was managing a coffee
    shop, I had to ensure that staff (myself
    included) refrained from swearing, however
    unintentionally, when in public earshot, so my
    rule was that the only acceptable word of
    frustration allowed behind the counter was
    'chuff'. It caught on very quickly and soon
    the air was.....well, not blue at all
    actually, with chuffing hell, chuff this,
    chuff that and, most popular of all, chuff
    off! Curiously, whenever we had a staff
    social evening where we could all let our
    hair down and use whatever language we
    pleased, it was interesting to note that, by
    and large, we all remained a bunch of
    chuffers!

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    1. Ha, ha, well there's an idea! And can I say that I'm really chuffed?

      'Chuff' does sound so innocent! It actually sounds rather nice. Could even be the name of a bird :-) (I think I'm getting confused with choughs and chaffinches and chiffchaffs...)



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  7. The essence is that cunt is both a thing of beauty AND used a derogatory insult.

    Whereas knobcheese is not...

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    1. I don't think I could even say that without laughing, which lessens the effect somewhat!

      But I am quite fond of the double-barrelled theme: "Arsewank", "shitfuck", etc. So many variations to be had :-)

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  8. Replies
    1. Thanks, OPC - fud for thought ;-)

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  9. "Chough" is a bird, it's like a Raven (it's pronounced "Chuff"...)

    ... anyway, didn't Del Boy use Chuff all the time, as in "Chuffing 'ell Rodney"? Some friends and I used to use the names of fashion designers as swear words for a few years. My favourite was "Vera Wang". Issey Miyake is a very good profanity if you have a Welsh accent as Issey sounds very similar to the Welsh for Jesus (Jesi) and Miyake just sounds great in that overblown accent.

    Getting upset at swear words is just stupid, what matters is the idea you want to express not the words you use to do it. If you aren't a Racist then using the word N*gger won't suddenly make you one, and c*nt doesn't make you a misogynist either.... I'm using the *** in case Homeland Security are scanning your blog BTW ;o) Who knows whats on the list of hot words they look for! ;o)

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    1. I'll always think of Del Boy for 'plonker'! And I like "Vera Wang"...
      Good point about saying something without intention doesn't automatically make you racist/misogynist etc but it seems ignorance (as in literally not knowing rather than just ignoring!) is no defence these days. I don't want to, but I do worry a bit about using 'incorrect' terms in case I'm wrongly judged. I know I'm not -ist in any way but I couldn't bear for someone to think I was, or that I'd have to defend myself, over an ill-chosen word or phrase... It's a bit of a minefield :-(

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    2. Yve's use of names as swear words brings to mind an unfortunately named 1970's footballer called Paul Kinnell. As in, 'what the Paul Kinnell is that?' One assumes he must have taken a bit of stick from the crowds at the time.

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    3. Oh dear, poor Paul Kinnell!
      I honestly did once know of a Mike Hunt...

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  10. Search for YPLAC On Twitter for an excellent application of the word.

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    1. Thanks for that, Furtheron. I will always park now with the greatest of care! :-)

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  11. Much like the vagina itself, it's expansive.

    The EDL are a bunch of cunts. Period (sic)

    Coldplay ? Bunch of cunts...

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    1. Choofin' 'eck. I finish my work, come in from painting sweet innocent pictures for little children, get a nice cup of tea, check my blog and now all I find is filth, filth, filth. Fucking filth.
      ;-)

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    2. Is that you, Bill Grundy ?

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    3. "What a clever boy" :-)

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