The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'fuck'
Some prankster has been stickering the Barclays branding on London's rental bicycles (a.k.a. the Boris Bikes), prefixing the imperative "fuck" to the sponsor's name:
The latest salvo from the culture war: Canada's conservative government has scrapped a programme to help Canadian musicians and artists abroad because it was going to "fringe art groups that were unrepresentative or offensive", with one example being the electronica outfit Holy Fuck.
There are red faces in Staffordshire after a dining couple received a restaurant bill containing an obscenity. The computer-printed bill from Joe Delucci's restaurant in Lichfield contained, among its items, one reading "SUCK MY D___ F___ FACE", or something similar to these words, billed at £0.00.
The restaurant's owner apologised and explained that the message should only have been seen only by the kitchen staff, and should have never ended up as an item on the bill. In what context said message should have been seen by the kitchen staff has not been explained.
There's a fairly interesting paper on the status of the word "fuck" in US law, and the irrational power that word taboos have in our seemingly enlightened society.
A trilogy of events motivated me to start this project. The first occurred during my second year of law teaching. In my Professional Responsibility course, the lesson for the day was attorney racist and sexist behavior. The case I assigned from a leading casebook was liberally sprinkled with fuck, cunt, shit, bitch and the like. Sensitive to the power of language, I recited the facts myself rather than ask a student as was my norm. After the course was over, I was reviewing my student evaluations and discovered this: "I was a little disturbed by the way he seemed to delight in saying 'cunt' and 'fucking bitch' during class. I think if you're going to say things like that in class, you should expect it to show up on the evaluation."
Three legally trained minds--a law student, a law enforcement officer, and a federal judge--each heard the word fuck and suddenly lost the ability to calmly, objectively, and rationally react. If fuck has power over these people, what are the limits of its influence?It has some interesting factoids, such as:
Of particular interest to the lawyer-lexicographer is the suggestion of an Egyptian root petcha (to copulate). During the last Egyptian dynasties, legal documents were sealed with the phrase, "As for him who shall disregard it, may he be fucked by a donkey." The hieroglyphic for the phrase--two large erect penises---makes the message clear.The author of the piece (which is titled, simply, "Fuck") makes it clear that he regards word taboos as irrational and unworthy of a place in rational discourse, and as such never avoids using the word where there is an option. Oddly enough, he also seems to refuse to put quotes around it, even when discussing the word "fuck" itself rather than what it refers to, as if doing so would be an unacceptable surrender to the Prim And Proper Language Police.
(via Boing Boing)
The BBC's H2G2 project (which is sort of like a parallel-universe Wikipedia or something) has a wonderfully informative piece on the history and use of British swear words:
Legend has it that in the 1950s, construction kits like Meccano would be sold in boxes of various sizes. The list of contents which came with the standard size box would be headed 'Box, Standard' (which elided into 'bog standard' when spoken) and the larger box was the 'Box, Deluxe' which was spoonerised to create the phrase 'The Dog's B******s'. This is such a satisfying explanation for two common forms of British English usage that one really wants it to be true.
The word would appear to have entered the English language during the early Middle Ages; in 1230AD, both Oxford and London boasted districts called 'Gropecunte Lane', in reference to the prostitutes that worked there. The Oxford lane was later renamed the slightly less-contentious Magpie Lane, while London's version retained a sense of euphemism when it was changed to 'Threadneedle Street'. Records do not show whether it was a decision of intentional irony that eventually placed the Bank of England there.
In 1999, Conservative Future - the youth wing of the Conservative Party - started using the logo 'CFUK'. Sadly, this got them into trouble with the clothing company French Connection UK, who had recently rebranded themselves 'fcuk'. It is strange to think that there may be an entire generation who, like Norman Mailer, cannot spell the word.
In 1987, the American soul group The Tams had a Top 30 UK hit with a song called There Ain't Nothing Like Shaggin'. They were probably rather puzzled to hear that what they regarded as an innocent little ditty about a dance craze was having trouble getting airplay in Britain.
The poet Robert Graves wrote a very odd little book called Lars Porsena, or The Future of Swearing and Improper Language. Writing in the 1920s, he claimed that there was an definite class difference in the use of the words 'bastard' and 'bugger'. He claimed that in the working class, people might well be sensitive about illegitimacy, but were often unfamiliar with homosexuality, and so bastard was a mortal insult and bugger was a much milder term. The severity was reversed in the upper classes, who had nice traceable bloodlines and a boarding-school education. He claimed that bugger was a much more serious insult in upper-class circles, where people were more likely to believe it.
The residents of the Austrian village of Fucking are sick of English speakers finding treating their village as a joke (and stealing their road signs); however, the Daily Telegraph's writers obviously aren't:
"Let's just say there are plans in place to deal with this," the Kommandant warned darkly. "What they are, I am not at liberty to disclose, but we will not stand for the F---ing signs being removed. It may be very amusing for you British, but F---ing is simply F---ing to us. What is this big F---ing joke? It is puerile."
"The Germans all want to see the Mozart house in Salzburg. Italians and Russians always celebrate New Year here. Every American seems to care only about The Sound of Music (filmed around Salzburg in 1965). The occasional Japanese wants to see Hitler's birthplace in Braunau. But for the British, it's all about F---ing."
"Yet still there is this obsession with F---ing. Just this morning I had to tell an English lady who stopped by that there were no F---ing postcards."
His predecessor, Siegfried Hauppl, was equally dismissive when he was interrupted playing a game of Skat. "I am no longer the mayor so this F---ing problem is nothing to do with me," he growled, turning his back and studying his cards.
"The older people don't like being laughed at by some of the younger ones from other villages, but we are proud of our beautiful F---ing."It's all rather Benny Hill, isn't it?
Various takes on "Home Taping Is Killing Music" seen recently:
Found on the website of a design agency with a number of recording-industry clients; whether it's sincere or ironic is unknown.
And from a German novelty T-shirt vendor:
An interesting and scholarly Grauniad article on the rise and fall of the word "fuck", formerly a sexual obscenity.
The decline is a matter of shifting taboos, says Jean Aitchison, the Oxford professor of language and communication... "In the last century, it was religious swearing that upset people," she says. "Then, in the mid-20th century, sexual swearing. But these days people get far more upset about politically incorrect language: nigger, and even mad, are quite taboo. "
The class issue remains an awkward one for fuck's supporters. The classier the accent, the more endearing (and figurative, rather than aggressive) it somehow sounds. Hugh Grant carried it off with aplomb (and a plum) in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and when a BBC Radio 3 announcer recently let slip a fuck on air, it caused little stir; the same station's drama output is a secret treasury of fucks. Yet when football manager Graham Taylor used it 32 times in a Cutting Edge documentary, it went down rather badly - especially with the popular newspapers, which remain squeamish about any word that might unsettle readers; the Sun even avoids "orgasm". Most non-broadsheets, when it is unavoidable, opt for f**k, which lets them, as Jones puts it, be "daring and prissy simultaneously".