Strange Charmed Life Reaction and bad language

Bill Edminster bedminst at
Tue Apr 10 20:55:55 EDT 2001

  The phrase "cuss words" has the tone of being very country or somewhat 19th
century.  Mark Twain or Zane Grey would have used the term.  I think it would be
used with self-conscious irony and intentional quaintness.

"Dorian E. Gray" wrote:

> Philip said...
> >
> > > "cuss words" is a new term to me.
> >

  I don't understand how "arse" could be shocking unless it's the shock to an
unwary American that anyone could mispronounce such a simple word.  Of course,
"ass" no longer carries the offensive weight it once had and the unfamiliar
pronunciation might give it new power to offend.

> I think "cuss", like "ass", is mainly American.  The rest of us say "curse"
> and "arse", but the latter, at least, seems to really shock Americans.
> OTOH, they don't at all appear to mind "bollocks", "wanker", etc. (maybe
> they don't understand them?) and tend to get very confused by "balls".
> (Yeah, I'm generalising, but generalising about the Americans I know.)

  "Bollocks" and "wanker" are very unfamiliar words to Americans, I suspect.  In
fact, I've only been assuming that "bollocks" = "balls" = testicles.  "Balls" is
the normal informal term for testicles in my experience, so I'm not sure what's
confusing.  Of course that assumes I've guessed correctly about your use of the

  I'm starting to have doubts about the meaning of everything and that reminds
me of when I was in grade school and decided that my parents had to be Russian
spies, speaking in a secret code, because nobody could ever be having
conversations that boring on purpose.

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