Thursday, April 20, 2006

An Analysis of Cursing, Dammit

This morning while I was getting ready for work in what can only be described as a hangover-induced stupor of haziness and idiocy, I managed to stub my already injured toe on the edge of the door jam leading to the bathroom. The resulting scream and explosion of various curse words which emanated from my mouth got me to thinking about how strange our cursing is, if you really sit back and analyze it.

For example, consider the popular curse word motherfucker. When we say that, what are we trying to convey to the person we shoot this verbal harassment at? Are we stating that the person has sex with mothers? That they are a person who fucks mothers? If so, then would you be able to call a husband and father a motherfucker? Wouldn't they just look at you and say, "Well yes...I do have sexual relations with my wife, who happens to be a mother. What's your point?"

See my point? The curse word motherfucker is on the lame side, since it's really not that big of an insult, if you stop and analyze it. We often hear attractive moms affectionately referred to as MILFs (Mom I'd Like to Fuck), and yet at the same time, we consider it to be an insult to have sex with one. Where is the logic in that?

How about another popular phrase? Let's examine the phrase fuck you. When somebody walks up to you and says "fuck you", what are they saying? If we assume that fuck is a verb which relates to sexual intercourse, then is the phrase fuck you an offer of sex? How is that an insult? At least the phrase "go fuck yourself" makes sense...you're telling somebody to go home and masturbate, which has the capacity to be insulting to somebody. "Fuck you" doesn't even make sense, grammatically. Replace "fuck" with another verb and see if it makes more sense...run you, jump you, eat you. See? They don't really make sense. Neither does "fuck you".

Another derivation of fuck is to say fuck off. What does this mean? I can't even begin to analyze it. I know it's meant to replace "go away" but I just don't understand the concept here. I think the "off" is what throws me for a curve. "Go the fuck away" makes more sense to me. Somehow that morphed into "fuck off" and I'm not sure how. I think this might have been the result of a person who couldn't cuss properly. They flubbed the phrase "get the fuck off my property" and now we have the simplified and semi-confusing "fuck off".

Here's a good one: cock. When used as a noun, it's fine...but when used as an insult, it's lame. "Hey, Shanshu! You're a cock!" What the hell? When somebody calls you a cock, what's the point? They're basically saying you're a penis, which would imply that a penis is a negative thing. So, does that mean they think you resemble a penis? Or perhaps that you act like a penis? If so, in what sense do I act like a penis? Why does it insult me, to be compared to a piece of genitalia that I already own? I don't get it.

Here's one I got from my grandmother: Screw a fat duck. Ok, seriously...what? She used this not as an insult, but as a simple expletive. She'd drop a pan of cookies and yell out "screw a fat duck!" and I'd be mystified. Having sex with a duck (or, if you rather...fucking a duck) seems to be bad enough...but why does the foul have to be fat? Can ducks even BE fat? Is it more of an insult to tell a person to mate with a fat duck over a regular duck? Part of me thinks she said this phrase to avoid using a "bad" curse word like shit. But, is "screw a fat duck" really better to say, than "shit"? Shit seems more harmless, in my opinion. Beastiality is never a good thing, and is not exactly what I would call a "tame" activity. She would have been better off, sticking with "Shit!" when she dropped something...at least that's normal and doesn't involve sex with poultry.

Here's a classic: the shit's gonna' hit the fan. Um...ideas? Comments? 'Cause I don't have any clue what this means, or how somebody came up with it. I know we use it to say "things in this particular situation are going to become bad if a certain event occurs." You know, like "If mom catches us having sex with this overweight duck, the shit is really going to hit the fan." I understand the context of the phrase, but the etymology escapes me.

Another one I've always found to be humorous, in the sense that it seems like a lame attempt at insulting somebody: bite me. It makes no sense if you analyze it. You're actually telling a person to harm you. Um...helllooooooooooo? That's dumb.
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Tim: I can't figure out he answer to this math problem.
Bill: Haha! You're stupid at math!
Tim: Bite me!
Bill: Um...ok.
Tim: OW! You fucking bit me!!
Bill: Yeah, you told me to. Boy, you sure showed me, didn't you? How about the next time I insult you, you tell me to punch you in the face? Because that's the only way this would be more humorous.
Tim: I hate you.
Bill: That's better.

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Anyway, those are just a few of the curses and phrases that I find to be lacking, in the "making sense" department. There are more, of course...but I've proven my point, I think. Maybe you have a curse word or phrase that you've always thought sounded strange? Maybe you've never thought about it, or could care less about why we say the things we do. Either way, I bet you'll think twice the next time somebody tells you to fuck off. Maybe you'll be tempted to respond with "Fuck off what?" and watch as they frantically try to make sense of what just happened.

12 comments:

Think Frustrated said...

George Carlin did this really great thing about how "fuck" is used in our language for every single different part of speech (noun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc). He gives examples. It's really funny. I wish I had a link for you. Google it.

Shanshu said...

No need! I am familiar with that bit...I'm a Carlin fan, baby.

crabcake said...

AHHHHHHHHHHH HA HA HA HA HA! You're so goofy. That's why I love you. I'm so advertising this post at the field for you. I'll stick it in with the voting comments for Cappy's new body.

Spinning Girl said...

My contribution is that ducks, like geese, are naturally fatty waterfowl.

Spinning Girl said...

Oh, ps, very funny post!

bdiddy said...

I was roaring with laughter that co-workers came to ask what the hell was so funny. I nearly laughed my ass off...hey...there's a couple more for curse phrases that you can ponder!!

Kay said...

This was an awesome post. Really brightened my day, thanks.

A few phrases I've always found strange:
How hell seems to be a thermometer, even though no one's ever been there (i.e. "cold as hell" and "hotter than hell").
"Fuckin-A" seems to have no point.
"What the fuck" doesn't seem to have a purpose, but since it's usually used when the situation's just as pointless, maybe it works like a double negative thing.

I've seen that George Carlin bit Frustrated mentioned, and this post reminded me a bit of it. Great post.

drunkbh said...

You just tore apart all of my favorite sayings. No wait....I still have cocksmoker.

The Humanaught said...

Right, so I'm just bored enough to discover the "shit hit the fan" etymology - but can't be arsed about the rest.

"The expression [the shit hits the fan] is related to, and may well derive from, an old joke. A man in a crowded bar needed to defecate but couldn't find a bathroom, so he went upstairs and used a hole in the floor. Returning, he found everyone had gone except the bartender, who was cowering behind the bar. When the man asked what had happened, the bartender replied, 'Where were you when the shit hit the fan?' " [Hugh Rawson, "Wicked Words," 1989]

Good post man. ;-) For answers, check out www.etymonline.com.

Shanshu said...

Crabcake: thanks for the link! Oh, and by the way, I'm a boy. Just FYI.

sprinning girl: ahhh-ha! So ducks are already fatty! So technically, we shouldn't classify them as "fat ducks" then, should we? If they are naturally fat, I mean. We should just call them ducks. "fat duck" is like saying "hot fire".

bdiddy: Did you laugh so hard your headlights popped out?

kay: OMG I totally forgot about [fuckin' A] !!! That's a good one!

drunkbh: You have my permission to use all of the curses and phrases I dissected. And please feel free to make up new ones like "cock off, you ass-nipple!"

ryan: holy hell, man. That is SO cool that you looked that up!! I wonder if that's really the source of the mysterious "shit hit the fan" phrase? if so, that's pretty cool. Good job man!

Rowan said...

well, I guess the grammatical inconsistencies can be explained away by the common saying: a person who excessively curses is attempting to sound impressive with a limited vocabulary. If that's true, one can assume then these trashy folk with their grade 6 education can't be expected for much better grammar than "duck off" if you catch my drift. Plus, I always thought the expression was "fuck a duck" just cause it rhymes....just a thought.

bdiddy said...

nope- no headlights! Any nosebleeds on your end?