48 - Four letter word rides alone


Read, perhaps, 4-letter words and Ineffective Invective, too.

I was editing Ineffective Invective and found myself wandering the byways of the net following the writing about the F-word. Somewhere on this page are links to some of what I found. I have copied little pieces to encourage others to follow the trail. Those working on big screens might (i) open a second page on their browser or (ii) use multiple windows or (iii) use ‘go back’ to return from each link – I wrote this with several windows open and I have the advantage of two large screens to work with.

I referred to an article I left on my classroom wall at PMC until some interfering b**d stole it rather than let us all enjoy it. It was written 20021121, by Jonathan Margolis, titled Expletive Deleted  and I hope the link still works.

That article includes a reference which has vanished, sadly. This is a quote from the article:-

As well as liberalisation for its own sake, the fact has also dawned that, linguistically, fuck is a very flexible and interesting word. According to an internet wit called Nick Lohr, who has [had, it doesn’t link] an audiovisual tribute to fuck at www.fuck.addr.com/news/word/larry.html, we would all do well to use the word more in our speech. It is, he contends, "the one magical word which just by its sound can describe pain, pleasure, hate and love – fuck falls into many grammatical categories, as a transitive verb, for instance: 'John fucked Shirley.' As an intransitive verb: 'Shirley fucks.' It's meaning is not always sexual; it can be used as an adjective, such as 'John is doing all the fucking work'; as part of an adverb: 'Shirley talks too fucking much'; as an adverb enhancing an adjective: 'Shirley is fucking beautiful'; as a noun: 'I don't give a fuck'; as part of a word: 'abso-fucking-lutely' or 'in-fucking-credible'; and as almost every word in the sentence: 'Fuck the fucking fuckers.'"

I think I found the text itself, or a copy, at
http://www.mit.edu/people/daveg/Humor/HumorLocker/Really.crude/fuck.grammar in which I see duplication from the work of others and has errors at the same sort of level as my own un-read work (what I think of as published draft) does. This link too failed in 2016.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=grammatical%20fuck%20up directs you to a collection of other grammar mistooks, some of which are from Dubya, and so have a life of their own, still.

The Urban Dictionary is particular fun, but needs extensive editing and some structure beyond that of an unordered list, much of which is still being re-used from elsewhere. There is a lot of repetition [for those that use the F-word alot (sic), you’ll expect alot of wrong spellings and bad grammer too, I expect]. I quite liked this part entry:

1. v. to have sex
2.  n. the act of having sex
3.  adj. with suffix -ed. general derogatory meaning
4.  a general insult
5.  n. attention or care of (usually lack thereof)
6.  v. to disregard, ignore (used with -it, -that)
7.  v. to mess up, destroy, mangle, etc. (used with suffix -up)
8.  exclaimation of emotion
9.  derogatory dismissal
10.  expression of confusion
11. very, extremely
12. n. a person you don't like
13  .bother, agitate
14.  v. to be in distress

Some of the entries are plain wrong, such as this one claiming conjunctivitis: Can be used as a connecting word such as "And"       That kid is mad stupid; fuck, he's butt ugly too.

see here, √ for a wonderfully angry letter about a missing indefinite article, from Giles Coren.

I looked for Nick Lohr, as Jonathan Margolis referred to him, and found this video, but it won’t work for me...

One of the later articles in the Urban Dictionary reads knowledgeably; Mistakenly thought to have come from an acronym "Fornication Under Consent of the King", the word [is] most likely of native English origin, and is almost certainly of Germanic origin; Middle Dutch fokken (to thrust, copulate, or to breed), dialectical Norwegian fukka (to copulate), and dialectical Swedish focka (to strike, copulate) and fock (penis).

The word originally meant "to strike", "to thrust". Possibly becoming a euphamism [sic] for an older verb meaning "to copulate/breed" (likely from hyebh-; Sanskrit (yabhati) and the Slavic languages (Russian yebat`, Polish jebac)), the term took on the current meaning "to copulate".

The verb also means "to put into an impossible situation" in today's world ("You fucked us up!"), or as high praise ("fuckin' awesome!")

Even still, "fuck" is used as an expression of hate ("Fuck you!"), despite that copulation is really a pleasurable thing.

As at least one of the other entries (and the appropriate Wikipedia entry) point out, the earliest use comes from this quote:

Its first known occurrence, in code because of its unacceptability, is in a poem composed in a mixture of Latin and English sometime before 1500. The poem, which satirises the Carmelite friars of Cambridge, England, takes its title, “Flen flyys,” from the first words of its opening line, “Flen, flyys, and freris,” that is, “fleas, flies, and friars.” The line that contains fuck reads

“Non sunt in coeli, quia gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk.”

The Latin words “Non sunt in coeli, quia,” mean “they [the friars] are not in heaven, since.” The code “gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk” is easily broken by simply substituting the preceding letter in the alphabet, keeping in mind differences in the alphabet and in spelling between then and now: i was then used for both i and j; v was used for both u and v; and vv was used for w. This yields “fvccant vvivys of heli.” The whole thus reads in translation:

“They are not in heaven because they fuck [the] wives of Ely.”

The wiki entry has some lovely comments on use of the word by politicians, As it says, “any use by politicians tends to produce controversy”. Too right, and a select few are listed. I have selected from that list further; use the link to read the citations that Wikipedia very sensibly requires.

A famous British usage of fuck comes from a 2001/2002 scandal at the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions, while Stephen Byers was the Minister. His press officer, Jo Moore, sent an email after the September 11, 2001 attacks suggesting it would be "a good day to bury bad news". As the scandal unravelled, Permanent Secretary to the Department, Sir Richard Mottram was widely reported to have said:

"We're all fucked. I'm fucked. You're fucked. The whole department is fucked. It's the biggest cock-up ever and we're all completely fucked."

To British ears this was particularly amusing coming from someone so senior in the civil service.

In1965, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson said to the Greek ambassador Alexandros Matsas when he objected to American plans in Cyprus:
"Fuck your parliament and your constitution. America is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. Greece is a flea. If these two fellows continue itching the elephant, they may just get whacked by the elephant's trunk, whacked good.”

The Wiki entry—which is much better than this page—continues with an explanation of something I have not yet seen except when people share a photo with me:

The word fuck occurs sometimes in Chinese:
"spread to fuck the fruit"               for        "loose dried fruit”
"fuck to adjust the area"               for        "dry seasonings section"
"fuck the certain price of goods"    for       "dry foods price counter".

English bilingual public notices in China as a machine translation of the simplified character which can also mean "dry" and "do". The fault occurred in some versions of commonly-used Chinese to English machine translators for example Jinshan (金山 = "Gold Mountain") by Kingsoft.


If you have taken a picture of one of these, do send it for inclusion here. I’ll indicate whose they are, if you’ll let me.

DJS    20100108

Linguistically, one way to test the use of a word is to substitute another word whose form is well understood. Gretchen McCulloch writes in The Toast about this very topic. She suggests you replacing fuck (verb) with close; fucking adjective with playing. One soon sees that fuck behaves differently, in a non-standard way, so while we might claim that it fulfils a role as many word-forms, in truth it behaves as something else entirely.

Re-reading the collected work in 2016 I found that the internet has in some sense moved on and the ‘old’ links often don’t work. That points to a future problem if we cannot access our own recent history, while I must applaud the removal of multiple copies of work, the loss, even if only loss of access, is genuine.

A new hunt found these places:
http://the-toast.net/2014/12/09/linguist-explains-syntax-f-word/  Enjoyed.
https://solongasitswords.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/on-the-origin-of-fuck/ not new material, just better written than many.
http://lonniechu.com/QUANG.html  Quang, PD is cited as a serious writer. No he wasn’t, though that doesn’t make him wrong at all.
http://dexteroustongue.com/861/ on expletive infixation.
The work Studies out in left field is surprisingly pricey.

DJS    20161201

An example from that area of Beijing called Fu King. I’m sorry to report that the bookshop has been renamed, similar but sufficiently different to stop being photographed. A marketing mistake, I feel.

© David Scoins 2017