Sunday, October 21, 2007

CURSES!!!!!!

There has been some concern expressed over the use of the word "cunt" on my blog, specifically the phrase, "you are such a snide cunt glob!"

The association of disgusting and negative things by the use of slang sexual terms for emphasis, plays into a certain mindset that has arisen through religion.

While I fully agree that the religious have poisoned sexual activity with shame, guilt and inhibitions, I think the full context of the word "cunt" must be considered before this word is met with denigration or prohibition.

In Australia, "cunt" does not refer to female genitalia.

This website, Phrase Base, provides a significuntly concise definition:
Cunt: anything exasperating or annoying

Values Australia a website covering Aussie slang describes it thusly:

Cunt 1) Male or female who has caused mild inconvenience. 2) After more than five years of marriage, one’s spouse (of either sex). Often heard immediately before the slamming of doors or the throwing of dishes. (“Cunt!”). 3) Any person who cuts one off in traffic.

For further corroboration of Aussie usage of the word, here is the relevant portion of the wikipedia entry on Cunt- Usage in Australia.

Cunt even has a milder variational usage also covered in wikipedia:

Cunt is used extensively in Australia, Ireland and also in some parts of Scotland as a replacement noun, more commonly among males and the working classes, similar to the use of motherfucker or son of a bitch among some Americans in extremely casual settings. For instance, "The cunt of a thing won't start," in reference to an automobile; or "Pass me that cunt," meaning "Pass me that item I need"; or "Those cunts down the road," referring to people in the vicinity. When used in this sense, the word does not necessarily imply contempt nor is it necessarily intended to be offensive

So… when Johnny writes, “you are such a snide cunt glob!!” He’s not calling reg golb a snide vagina, he’s saying reg golb is snide, exasperating, annoying and inconvenient.

What Johnny ISN'T doing is making the remark in a gentlemanly manner: light tap of the glove to the face. Using cunt like this is a right hook smack in the kisser. And somehow, I think that was exactly how he intended it.

27 comments:

Tattooed & Atheist (T&A) said...

The word has a bit of a bite, but is useful when needed. My friend Jim from NZ uses it in the same manner in which you described, it took me a while to get used to it. Now it doesn't phase me when he calls another guy a cunt.

Poodles said...

I have used the American version for both male and female, mostly female though. It is one of my favorite words in any country. :D

Fiery said...

Hey T&A! The first time I saw V for Vendetta I remember being absolutely shocked when Prothero said, "...you and every other cunt on this show..." Did he just call a whole group of guys cunts??? Can you do that? Can you call a dude a cunt? Yep, they do! Aussie Rules. ;-)

You do eventually get used to hearing it. It's not nearly the taboo over there that it is over there. They use it like we use fuck.

Protium said...

ha ha...

Derek & Clive from 1975

You stupid cunts..

Johnny will like this :)

Fiery said...

Johnny will indeed love that, he's a HUGE fan of Derek and Clive.

Holy HELL!!!!! I clicked on that link with headphones on and Clive is in my left ear and Derek is in my right ear. OWWWW!!!!!!!! Back and forth. DAMN!!

Ohhhhhh Protium, I'm laughing out loud. DELIGHTFUL!!!!!

GROSS!!!! Someone burped RIGHT IN MY EAR!!! That is just cruel Protium.

THANK YOU big brother!!!!! :-D

LMAO!!!!!!
My favorite bit of there's is "The Horn" That was a real pisser!

Richard said...

So Reg Golb is an Aussie who would interpret 'cunt', that way? I had no idea.

There are two ways to look at language: as "anything goes", or having some sort of standard.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was a brilliant achievement, that took a lifetime to prepare. It's purpose was to establish a standard to which people could refer, to resolve the tremendous confusions occurring due to regional differences in the English language during the 1800s.

Their goal was not to create a descriptive dictionary that simply echoes whatever usages happened to exist. That, "anything goes approach", would have resulted in a many times larger dictionary. A dictionary that adopted every slang from the numerous dialects. The OED did reference certain popular slang terms, but also provided the more appropriate language.

If you think about it, a descriptive dictionary would continue to expand wildly, incorporating every weird new slang term or adaptation, as might be found in tens of thousands of small communities: such as industrial row housing in Liverpool, black ghettos in Detroit, aboriginal reserves in N.America, the matriarchal mash of Kingston, Jamaica, or Welsh sheep herding villages. The person using such a dictionary would encounter a congeries of unnecessary synonyms for the same concept. Imagine a dictionary that included words from other languages entirely without indicating they were indeed from other languages. It simply invites confusion. It may bring color to prose, but the more it is used the narrower the audience that understands it.

Unfortunately this is the direction modern dictionaries are taking. It is an acceptance of all language as a tribal clutter of ever-changing dialects...where the dialects are more important than is widespread, effective communication. This is akin to the idea of God scattering the tribes from the Tower of Babble, each with a different language, and each unable to communicate well, with the others, pretty much as happened.

A prescriptive dictionary provides the earliest known meaning of a term along with its origins in other languages, such as Greek and Latin, and (a) modern definition(s). These definitions indicate the original concept for which the word was intended. A word may be more recently coined, but is often chosen by someone who deliberately uses it for its relationship to an earlier, related word in Latin, Greek or Old French.

The word "cunt" has been in existence for many centuries. Its first recorded usage is in England, c.1230! An Oxford or London street was known as Gropecuntlane, which was presumably a haunt of prostitutes. (There is no record of a Tugdickalley.)

Even the multiple applications of the word "cunt", suggests it is indeed like the word "fuck". Both are essentially vulgarities used as a hasty substitute for more accurate language and clearer thinking. It parallels a cave man's grunt as he might use it for a dozen different intents. This is precisely what Wikipedia and Values Australia indicate. The word 'cunt', is a slang term with many loose applications. I find it most likely that adult users know what its primary meaning is. Given the invective Reg Glob receives its usage was here certainly more in line with its vulgar meaning.

Sadly, too many people uncritically adopt language from those around them and, more importantly, the ideas that go with them. It makes them feel secure in their 'tribe', be it a Black Ghetto or the gay nightclub set. But essentially they achieve that importance by choosing a small pond, narrowed by language. That ubiquitous approach creates the 'Tower-of-Babel' situation the OED was seeking to eliminate, so that men could communicate reliably and confidently.

Putting the point more generally, the 'average' layman in a narrow locale echoes the slang and ideas around him, and presumes he sees the world "the way things are." In fact he has blinkered himself, and lazily accepts the local approach to diction and thought.

In N. America, 'sick' is popular in certain circles (ponds), but it means awesome or fabulous; 'bad' is used to refer to things that are really good or successful, 'brotha' is used to refer to a Black man, etc. It is permissible for Black's to refer to one an other as "niggers", but the non-Black who does it is a racist --the intellectual pond thereby shrinks.

If Aussie vernacular has brought the c-word into popular usage, So what! It is no improvement on communication or thinking, and can be seen by this very discussion to be a cause of confusion. I seriously doubt it is used in serious Australian literature & other publications -- except when dialogue calls for it.

As language blurs this way, meaning is lost. Feminism, in its quest to eliminate masculine terms that refer to either gender, sought to change "chairman" by inventing "chairwoman", then that became "chairperson". Except, those terms were only applied to women. Men were still "chairmen". People became so fed up with the this foolishness and the difficulty of choosing the right term on-the-fly, that they started referring to a chairperson of either sex as "the chair". So now a "chair" calls order to meetings, a "chair" mediates discussion and a "chair" moves that the meeting be closed. They might as well say the "stool" moved, because that treatment of language is full of it.

The clarity of one's concepts and the precision of the definitions that identify them, are one's best means of maintaining well integrated, rational thought and communication.

Harry Nads said...

Richard:

I appreciate how articulate you are, but damn you are long-winded! :)

You should start your own blog (if you have time between the novels you write in comments.) I would visit to see what I could learn.

Fiery said...

Richard said, "So Reg Golb is an Aussie who would interpret 'cunt', that way? I had no idea."

No Richard, I don't know where golb is from. Johnny however was welcomed to my blog immediately AS an Aussie. He writes as an Aussie, he talks as an Aussie. He IS an Aussie. There is even a recent post here celebrating the Aussie vernacular. In the context of my blog, it should have been very clear that glob is not a snide vagina but a snide cunt.

Fiery said...

Wow Richard. I read your comment and I feel like you haven't understood a word I've said.

Given the invective Reg Glob receives its usage was here certainly more in line with its vulgar meaning. Johnny finds glob exasperating, annoying, certainly inconvenient. What is vulgar about that meaning?

I repeat myself, "What Johnny ISN'T doing is making the remark in a gentlemanly manner: light tap of the glove to the face. Using cunt like this is a right hook smack in the kisser. And somehow, I think that was exactly how he intended it. Johnny used cunt in order to BE shocking, to call ATTENTION to his frustration with glob.

Richard said, "Sadly, too many people uncritically adopt language from those around them and, more importantly, the ideas that go with them. It makes them feel secure in their 'tribe', be it a Black Ghetto or the gay nightclub set. But essentially they achieve that importance by choosing a small pond, narrowed by language.

At first when I read this, I was quite outraged. You don't know Johnny, hardly anything about him, certainly not enough to accuse him of uncritically adopting the language of those around him to fit in with his "tribe". WOW. Not even close to an accurate personal assessment.

But then I realized that you had left it deliberately vague. That you were speaking in generalities about perhaps a whole culture that uses words wrongly just so they have created something unique in their world.

Johnny doesn't fill the rest of his comments with invectives. They are almost universally chosen to bring special, if insulting, attention to a particular comment. or thought.

When fundies act like jerks around Aussies they are going to get called "cunts". Americans and Canadians will probably always find it shocking, it's an Aussie thing.

Tommy said...

I recall I called Reg a douchebag in another thread. I suspect it does not have a different meaning for Aussies.

Johnny said...

So Reg Golb is an Aussie who would interpret 'cunt', that way? I had no idea.
No Richard I didn't think that at all. I don't, however, think that he would interpret it to mean I was calling him a vagina (Vaginas are awesome glob is definitely not!!!!Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha) Maybe you would but I think most Americans would not think that either(could be wrong don't know an awfull lot of them but I do love one of them hahaha). I think they would be totally shocked and think oh my god he used "that" word I am offended. So I think the meaning you are putting on it..on my use is wrong . In fact I think it is so taboo in north america that it has lost it's meaning as being a colloquial noun for the female pudendum and is now just seen as an extremely offensive word although I could be wrong about that too...of course it has it's basis as being a colloquial noun for the female pudendum (do you think people are offended by my use of pudendum....look up the etymology of that word!!!)
I am exasperated, annoyed, frustrated with people like glob and I don't think anything I say will change them so Fiery is spot on the moula when she says.........
Using cunt like this is a right hook smack in the kisser. And somehow, I think that was exactly how he intended it. Johnny used cunt in order to BE shocking, to call ATTENTION to his frustration with glob. Words are just words Richard...I do believe at one stage you were actually advocating violence against people by encouraging the idea of whack a fundie!!
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was a brilliant achievement, that took a lifetime to prepare. It's purpose was to establish a standard to which people could refer I do not own a copy of the OED (though I do love dictionaries, I own a copy of the Maquarie Australian English Dictionary) nor am I going to subscribe online just to make a point but what does it say in the OED for the description of cunt? I would be surprised if there is not a definition that says something like...(derog.) any person, perhaps with an indicator that it is a colloquial term.
When do "tribal" words become "valid" words if someone gets on after me and says "totally awesome Johnny that post was sick!" I would instantly know what they meant and would assume most others would also, and the same would also go for "dude that was awful you're sick!". Do we all need to be refering to the OED when ever we are talking?
Unfortunately Richard I think with the advent of the internet and the global community the OED and other tomes like it will become less important...there is a plethora of online "urban" dictionaries that can be perused at the click of a button but in the end it is about understanding what a person has said in context is it not? How many of you thout I was calling Glob a vagina and how many thought I was calling him a cunt? What if I had called him a cunthook? A good kiwi colloquialism meaning an unpleasant or despicable man.
Even the multiple applications of the word "cunt", suggests it is indeed like the word "fuck". Both are essentially vulgarities used as a hasty substitute for more accurate language and clearer thinking. Totally disagree with my use of the word Richard not a hasty selection of the word at all...in fact a considered insult!
Would you, Richard even have posted anything if I had called him a snide prick which if it I thought glob was Aussie and it was purely an Aussie audience I probably would have. Me thinks Richard that it is your clearly personal dislike for vulgarieies that has prompted your responses. I would wonder weather condescention and being patronising is not actually more offensive and less productive...the angriest and most sneering responses I have seen on here from glob or it might have been tellmeimwrong (same?) were to you in previous posts and we all know you don't even say crap!!
The clarity of one's concepts and the precision of the definitions that identify them, are one's best means of maintaining well integrated, rational thought and communication. Could not agree more Richard.


Douchebag is not really used very much over here Tommy but yep it does have the same meaning hahaha

Protium yes I love it! How dare he call you, my mate!! a cunt oh what a cunt!! hahahahah

Fiery said...

Johnny- Americans use prick frequently.

*pause*
BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
*pause*

Straight people, gay men, all love using prick. I suppose lesbians say prick as well.

Yeah, prick is used universally in America. Usually with a similar level of negativity as "jerk" with a twinge of added offensivenes.

I wonder how many men feel emasculated by the term cause it also refers to the penis?

Penises are awesome aren't they!

Hey, does anyone know if calling someone a "jerk" is etymologically based on masturbation?

Oh dear! All those years of calling people a jerk.... is that what I meant?????

Thump Thump Eyes said...

I think in Australia around the time that Derek and Clive came out with that classic (1975) the word was considered absolutely shocking...and thats why it was so funny then, and still is now...I have also heard it used in slightly more softer terms..as in "bloody cunty thing" meaning its just an annoying thing, like when you're fixing the car and something just isnt going right!
Fuck is as common as shit now but cunt is definitely getting up there too...

Tattooed & Atheist (T&A) said...

Prick is a great word!
i.e.: Fundies sure can be insensitive pricks!
:)

Richard said...

I was doing my best to keep my ‘novel’ short in the interest of HarryNads legitimate concern over its length. (I still love the audacity of the name he uses.) However, I was anticipating some of the arguments that follow my lengthy comment as I wrote it. The answers to them are generally in the comment but not in its particulars.

I want to make it clear that I am not slamming Johnny (I like his take on things). Johnny, it was never meant to be insulting. Everyone, please don't perceive insult in a pretty technical explanation. I am addressing a principle about language. I am sharing it on this blog for the very reason that most of its visitors & its delightful hostess are smart. I raised it with respect to Johnny’s comment because Johnny is one of the better members of this group, not because of some need to attack him. Frankly, the principle of proper use of language and meanings applies equally to me and to many (most?) of the World’s best known academics: Dawkins and Hawkins included.

Fiery gets my point when she responded saying,
"But then I realized that you had left it deliberately vague. That you were speaking in generalities about perhaps a whole culture that uses words wrongly just so they have created something unique in their world."
However, I maintain I was not being "vague". I was speaking in principle. Principles cover a specific range of particulars, and the whole point of a principle is that each particular need not be further articulated. The particulars are to then be applied, whether in existing or in new situations --that is why Men need principles. Unfortunately she does not seem to incorporate the principle I am presenting into the rest of her argument.

Initially my purpose was to point out that using sexual slang in a derogatory manner has a certain negative impact. Now it is to show the broader principle that is the problem of common usage of slang in general. The problem is plainly demonstrated in this very discussion. The obvious way is in the regional differences between Johnny’s Australian usage and American usage, resulting in a certain degree of confusion. Less obvious is the manner in which the same slang word (‘cunt’) comes to be ‘acceptable’ in various new usages, that require the audience to struggle to gather its intended meaning or intent, rather than work with its standard meaning. Still less obvious is the manner in which such loose usage reaches common acceptance. It all happens in peoples' minds.

Johnny wrote, "Words are just words Richard".

I cannot disagree too strongly with that statement. Words are the very 'stuff' of thought. We think in words. The words symbolize, and are linked to, all of our knowledge particularly to the concept to which each word refers. When I say "dog" it brings a certain concept to mind. When I speak of clipping a dog's nails and of the need not to cut through the 'quick' of the nail the mind draws on further elements of that concept: "dogs have nail quicks that hurt and bleed when cut". That is one tiny example of how broad, interlinked and profound 'words' are. Before I raised the notion of the "quick", it was not in you, the reader's, conscious mind. Yet, as soon as you read it it was there, connected to and a part of the concept "dog". The person who does not know what a quick is, or who only has a different meaning for it will not fully grasp what is being discussed. The mind cannot work without using words correctly.

Words are not primarily for communication, they are primarily for thought. This matter alone could produce a 'novel’.

Johnny wrote,
"...I do believe at one stage you were actually advocating violence against people by encouraging the idea of whack a fundie!!"
I think that was Poodles's joke.

Johnny quoted me,
"Even the multiple applications of the word "cunt", suggests it is indeed like the word "fuck". Both are essentially vulgarities used as a hasty substitute for more accurate language and clearer thinking."

He responded saying,
"Totally disagree with my use of the word Richard not a hasty selection of the word at all...in fact a considered insult!"

That was certainly not a personal remark. I was speaking in principle there, as in the rest of my comment. The error I am addressing can be found among the top academics in the World, often on far weightier matters.

Johnny also seemed to focus on my use of “hasty”. Please note that I was speaking of the general adoption of local vernacular. The ‘hastiness’ arises in the individual adapting to those around him. His **implicit** mental process is, “cunt’ works well here, with the friends and people around me, so I’ll use it”. In terms of understanding words, that is indeed hasty. Worse, that method is taught in school as a part of reading instruction, purportedly so “children don’t have to struggle with a dictionary.” You can see where that would lead. That was the process by which, however many decades ago, “cunt” began to come into standard use in speech.

I do agree with Johnny that I am more reactive with respect to sexually based slang, which is what prompted Fiery's post on this subject. I flat out said I was, and I explained why. Heck that was my main point, and this discussion is prompting me to be even more consistent with it. (Johnny, in some degree, "prick" actually was less of a problem for me, for the same mistaken reasoning,in me, that I am explaining here.)

Now, I could have fired back with, "What kind of pricks are you to all miss my point, focusing on details instead, and then taking them so personally that your cuntish feelings are hurt and you get all defensive. Look at the friggin' principle!" I imagine Harry Nads would have appreciated the brevity, but it wouldn’t communicate much and I’d rather not treat you that way.

P.S. Fiery, I had never thought of 'jerk' that way. When I found out what 'bugger' actually meant, I was shocked. My Dad is very strict about not using 'fuck' and 'shit', but used 'bugger' all the time... hastily and lazily adopted. I was also surprised by 'friggin'. It is a slang usage for female masturbation, and is not a euphemism for 'fuck' as many people seem to presume. It comes from sailing, where ropes frigged (rubbed) other ropes and sails, wearing them away. So, theoretically, a female sailor could be caught frigging in the rigging!

Ginny said...

I don't have any issues with the word or any other curse word for that matter. I can talk like a sailor and often do. Sometimes curse words are just necessary for true emotion and emphasis on something. That's why we have them in the first place is it not? Sometimes regular words just don't convey the feeling right.

LOL and I have to say I think it's hilarious that you used the word "cunt" as many times as you could in that last post. Was that on purpose?

Johnny said...

Rich, haven't read the whole lot yet..... short on time here at work but I didn't think you were slamming me and there certainly was no offense taken, I can see where you're coming from mate :)

Fiery said...

Ginny- You got it in one dear! :-D
lol

There is even a deliberate misspelling so I could slip it in an additional time. ;-)

Harry Nads said...

"I have also heard it used in slightly more softer terms..as in "bloody cunty thing" meaning its just an annoying thing, like when you're fixing the car and something just isnt going right!"

Wow, what a difference in cultures. In my American mind "bloody cunty thing" is pretty disgusting... I try to avoid that during that week of the month! :)

Richard said...

HEY!!!!
While I was at the gym sweating, this registered itself in my mind from among the neurons of my subconscious.

Fiery's post quoted Wikipedia (emphasis mine):
"Cunt is used extensively in Australia, Ireland and also in some parts of Scotland as a replacement noun, more commonly among males and the working classes, similar to the use of motherfucker or son of a bitch among some Americans in extremely casual settings.

That exactly what I've been addressing, and it was right there in Fiery's post!

Words have exact meanings, so we can think clearly. If you gloss over the meaning of "replacement noun", you will miss the point!

Slang treats real words much as a blank square in Scrabble treats real letters --as anything goes. I even mentioned row houses in an industrial area of Liverpool... working class!

Oscar Wilde said, "Only a fool doesn’t judge people by appearances. He was right. Similarly, only a fool doesn't judge people by their use of language.

Bringing slang or vulgarities into a judgment or discussion equates with appearing at a social function with ugly food stains on one's good dress or suit.

Johnny said...

Once again Richard I didn't think you were attacking me personally and thank you for your kind words.
Principles are nice Richard however they are not always practicable. Slang is a fact and will always be with us andd will always be evolving. I meant the negative impact of calling glob a cunt I have no real desire to change him because I don't think I will but I want to let him know what I think of his position ergo him! (read his post on Mama Ewok...what a cunt... he can't even give well wishes without slipping in a political comment).
Richard I am fully aware of the importance of words to ourselves and the concepts words convey. When I said words are just words I meant it in the sense that although words can hurt feelings that's all they can hurt, yes they may incite individuals but it is those idividuals that decide within themselves to act or not. So when I call glob a cunt it might hurt his feelings (I even doubt in this case that it has...if he called me a cunt I wouldn't give a fuck!) I have never seen blood after I have clouted someone with words, however I have seen blood after I've clouted someone with my fist, I ve seen blood after a bomb has gone off, I've seen physical hardship after people have been denied rights that others have been afforded. Because we don't have a collective concious Richard the full principle of word usage goes out the window and in fact you are guilty of using words in a way that I think a few people would struggle with......
...instance-Poodles you're a panic! do you mean this in the sense that it made you panic -sudden demoralising terror? ( I take it you did because you go on to say that you nearly soshed your coffee on your keyboard...been there before myself) or that she panics or that she is a riot?I personally find one of the wonderful things about language is that it is changeable, expandable.
Is that your fault or the readers(listeners) fault...it seems to me we have already touched on this point. So yes in a situation where I am comfortable that most people are going to get my insult then I am going to use it. If glob thought I meant he was a vagina and it shocks and disgusts him then he has a problem with vaginas hahahaha sorry that just made me laugh out loud! I still think what he represents is fucked and therefore he is a cunt in my book!
"...I do believe at one stage you were actually advocating violence against people by encouraging the idea of whack a fundie!!"
I think that was Poodles's joke.
Yes it was and you said it was preferable to sexual vulgarities and although these are only words they convey a concept worse than calling someone a sexual vulgarity( not that I think you actually mean to be violent). The thing about floating around the blogosphere is it is easy to type stuff that you probably wouldn't say to someone in person, certainly not until you were comfortable with them. I seem very coarse, and I guess am also in my speech...ask Fiery I pretty much type the way I talk however the reader can often puts a different spin or iterpretation on it -as we've seen it's hard not to think someone is not having a go at you...I gaurantee you that if I met glob in person I wouldn't call him a cunt!! Well not until he pissed me off with an intolerant comment or action. I am a very personable bloke and really do get along with almost everyone I encounter.
Just reading you bit about hasty, not really getting you! How would I know that cunt works well here? Until I use it? What about the first time I use it does that make it not hasty? It was not hasty in that sense either because I would use it even if I thought all would be outraged...if I thought I needed to! My entire point is that it has a dictionary entry exactly in the way I used it which to me makes it totally valid!

Oscar Wilde said, "Only a fool doesn’t judge people by appearances. He was right. Similarly, only a fool doesn't judge people by their use of language.

Bringing slang or vulgarities into a judgment or discussion equates with appearing at a social function with ugly food stains on one's good dress or suit.

Made me gasp out loud! Are you saying you would judge me if I showed up to a function with a stain on my trousers, or unironed clothes? Clothes don't make the man and neither do a few swear words Richard read the other shit around the swears. I think Oscar although a great wit is absolutely wrong with that quote I have met numerous people that on the surface I judged to be something they were not at all! All you could judge of a peson if they appeared at a social function is that they were either really lazy dressers or that they didn't care what they look like or perhaps that they didn't care about the person holding the function(but if they truly didn't they probably wouldn't be there) and you would have to talk to them to find out the situation! So you can't judge them, sorry Rich I actually found that last bit to be a bit insulting!
Sorry about any typos I am in a hurry...got cricket training and have to pick up my nephew on the way and I always think doing this will take much shorter than it actually does.Crap I'm late!!.
Hi Fiery hope your computer woes are over soon!!

Johnny said...

as we've seen it's hard not to think someone is not having a go at you
Sorry that should read it's hard not to think someone IS having a go at you!

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

Ok i'll say it.

Reg you're a fucking vagina.

Richard said...

Gosh we're getting long winded, but not as a fault ;-)

I quite know where you are coming from, Johnny, but I seem unable to indicate where I am coming from.

The better our language, the better our thinking, the better ourselves, the better our relationships. The more widespread that becomes the better our culture, and in all the forgoing, the better off we are in life.

I guess, in part, I am advocating that principle for bloggers and the Internet in general. The Internet is a phenomenon for human intellectual progress that is matched only by the Gutenberg printing press. As with literature, but now more so, individuals can choose the best in reason and hence language, or not. The poorer quality stuff will always be with us, but you, I & the major contributors to Fiery's blog seem to be of the sort that pursue the better. So I am suggesting a 'better', in my usual absolutist way (which variously gets me into trouble socially, or wins enormous praise).

On your reply... thanks for the detail. At a personal level I could be right there with you, but to me the Internet is akin to speaking loudly in a public hall, with total strangers listening in. But it isn't such a matter of concern with strangers as it is with the people worth my attention.

When Poodles commented on "whack a mole" she was speaking of defeating irrational fundy arguments by alluding to the arcade game of the same name. That's figurative speech, not noun substitution by slang.

The use of 'cunt' as an insult might be appropriate as an insult, but it still arose from a well established term for genitalia, and uses them 'in vain'. (I am using "in vain" the way they speak of using the Lord's name in vain... taking something that is a good and using it derogatorily. The use of "vain" for that is a strange linguistic twist in itself... but not now.)

As for hastiness, I am not sure where you lost me in my explanation of how words, their uses and meaning, are adopted without much consideration. At the moment all I can suggest is re-reading that part of what I wrote to see if you can state where I lost you, or failed in the explanation. I had another example to do with physics: People say "nothing's there", when looking for certain things in stores etc. That is a distinct contextual usage of the term. However, "nothing", when speaking of the origins of the Universe means, quite literally, "no Things of any kind whatsoever". Physicists who calculate, experiment and postulate (at a cost of billions of taxpayers dollars) about the beginning of the Universe completely drop that contextually absolute meaning of Nothing, and never give it a moment's thought. They are effectively nuts... because nothing can come from nothing. This misuse of the idea of Nothing arises because they do not grasp the full connection between every day words and thought, so they don't think about it. The same is pretty much the case with slang, especially when the slang serves as substitution nouns. That is where the hastiness lies.

Everyday usage of words that allows them to drift away from their proper meanings, or overtake and bury other, better words reduces effective communication and, above all, messes with thought.

On the Oscar Wilde quote you seem to have run off a bit half-cocked (I was dying to use that one, because it sounds sexual but is not :-p).

You wrote,
I have met numerous people that on the surface I judged to be something they were not at all!

I actually made that point, so as to be perfectly clear. However, I should perhaps have made the analogy, of food stains on a fancy suit, include the fact that the wearer does it regularly, and that there were no extenuating circumstances (say, a one sided stroke that causes him to dribble food and drink, or the like).

The man who regularly wears Che Guevera t-shirts is saying something about himself as surely as an anti-Semite might wear a swastika. Lesser dress code 'offences' might take a bit longer to figure out, but I guarantee that Wilde is right. Now, that does not mean a sloppy dresser cannot write brilliant literature or programming code, but somewhere in that personality there is something his dress is reflecting to the world. Guaranteed. No human action is without a cause behind it. And, the right person at the right place in his life may cause him to change that habit. This is an observable fact if one watches teenagers experimenting with clothing. Many adopt more sensible wear as they mature, a few never do. I find 50-something men wearing hippy clothes (literally), and a grey shabby ponytail to the bottom of their shoulder blades, always have a faulty outlook on life and society (usually some form of resentment and rebelliousness without any rational solution). They can still be brilliant in other ways, so I make an effort talk to them only on those terms.

I think I have addressed the main things here, but if not I am sure someone will let me know ;-)

Protium said...

Fiery; Reg gives me the horn.

Johny; Bewdy cobber a bloody ripper.

Richard; You said "My Dad is very strict about not using 'fuck' and 'shit'"

Do you feel this effects your current opinion at all?

Tommy; Douchbag is not a common term in Australia.

Fiery said...

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAAH


I LOVE THAT BIT!!!!!

The first Derek & Clive or Dud & Pete I had ever heard was that bit. Too bad it didn't have the whole track.

"I live for the horn...I shall live and die for the horn".

"I wrote to the religious council of churches...I wrote civily to them, you know, friendly...I wrote... Dear Cunts in Charge of Religion."

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAH

Richard said...

Protium asked,

You said "My Dad is very strict about not using 'fuck' and 'shit'"

Do you feel this effects your current opinion at all?

I'd have to say, definitely not. I used them routinely as a boy scout, so long as I was out of earshot of the leaders. In University I used them too, but as I matured I saw that they were shock value only, and were not really necessary. They might legitimately serve as an expression of discomfort or pain, just as one might moan or even scream in pain.

As a high school teacher (which I quit 8 years ago) I started explaining reasons for not swearing in a school environment. I had grasped through my own observation of their usage that they were "substitute nouns" and were a replacement for better thinking towards personal expression. I also new how many students used "it", "thing", "you know" and "like" so much that they barely said anything comprehensible. The use of swear words was a comparable intellectual error or weakness.

I explained to the students that the purpose of school is to develop in the students a habit of clear thinking, and an understanding of how language makes that thinking possible. I emphasized that they had to take responsibility for making as clear a statement as possible, rather than resorting to substitute terms and vague references, which rely on the listener to do the work of sorting out some meaning from the vagueness & non-literal use of words. That speaking lazily by such substitute terms presumes the other person is responsible for communication, which is properly a 'two-way street' requiring effort in both directions.

Somewhere in that discussion I would explain what the words actually meant, as cleanly as I could ('bugger' was a tough one) and then would name the fully acceptable terms we use in their place. Then I would point out how silly it is that the swear words carry such upset and hard feelings when used, when they are really nothing special.

I could then move to explain how they, consciously or not, used them for shock value, counting on others' views that they are abominable. Furthermore, a well developed sentence might have more meaning and generate more respect, both for the speaker and for the idea being conveyed. Not to mention that by being conscientious they would then develop better habits and be more carefully listened to (that often impressed them).

I also emphasized that just because a group of people follow someone off a curb, does not mean the first person is certain there is no car coming. It is in everyone's interest to first look both ways to avoid oncoming cars. In sum, that means observe and think for yourself, rather than automatically adopting actions and language around you.

I would only make this effort in one period, for 10 or 15 minutes out of the whole year, for each class. That meant that over ten years about 1,000 students received it. That gradually had an effect on the entire school, and eventually reached the school owners, who were very pleased. They were told what I was doing by a student who had earlier been in trouble for swearing in the halls. He told them he no longer wanted to talk that way even among his friends who did.

One year I actually wrote the words 'fuck' and 'shit' on the blackboard with OED definitions, and two students told their parents. This resulted in a meeting over the matter of my comportment as a teacher. The school owner, the high school principal and I faced four angry adults.

Fortunately the owner had discussed what I had done with me, and made all the same points to the parents. They all agreed that they had not understood swearing so well, were glad their children were able to hear that, and would discuss it further with them. The school owner suggested (at my earlier behest) that in future the words would not actually be written or used, except in the form of euphemisms. Clearly, my putting the terms on the blackboard in that class caused those two kids (at least) to misdirect their focus from the point of the discussion to the narrow fact that the teacher used swear words (GASP!).