Strange Charmed Life Reaction and bad language

McMullin, Elise emcmullin at
Wed Apr 11 15:24:59 EDT 2001

Bill said...

>   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.

That's my favorite deployment. Lands sakes!

>   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.

Dorian wrote:
"Well, I don't know why it shocks people either, but it does seem to."

It always shocked me. Somehow it just sounds much more graphic and evocative
than ass, which often makes me think of donkeys. But I find being shocked to
be amusing, so don't mind me. On the other hand, I have a hard time being
amused by 'cow' because I always hear it in such spiteful contexts. I
suppose it could be funny....

>   "Bollocks" and "wanker" are very unfamiliar words to Americans, I
suspect.  In fact, I've only been assuming that "bollocks" = "balls" =
"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
of the term.

I've always found these colorful and funny. I remember an Aussie exchange
student telling me that 'wanker' was a supreme insult back home, but we were
15 so swearing was still relatively new to us all. Perhaps it is not so bad?
He also had a story about asking for a 'rubber' on the airplane when he made
a mistake filling out that declarations form. Heh heh.


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