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May 11 2013

Bring back the huffle and bagpiping!

I love expanding my vocabulary, and this article on the modern history of swearing has a number of interesting words for obscene acts that should come back — no one would understand what I was talking about until they reach wider currency.

22 comments

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  1. 1
    paulburnett

    Decades ago I had a couple of sweatshirts custom printed: “Washington DC Free-Style Swiving Team”. Most people mis-read it as “Swimming” but it stopped the occasional Shakespeare aficionados in their tracks.

  2. 2
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    paulburnett:

    Love it.

    I remember, in college, a couple of the hockey players wandering around with t-shirts printed, on the front: “FPC Tupping Team!” and, on the back, “Rogering Sheep Since 1962!”

  3. 3
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    I take that back. The back of the shirt was printed: “Rogering Ewe Since 1962!”

    They say that as you get older, your memory is the second thing to go.

    I don’t remember what the first is supposed to be.

  4. 4
    Draken

    I was surprised to read that ‘poppycock’ presumably comes from the Dutch ‘pappekak’, i.e. diarrhea. Since then it’s in my list of favourite synonyms for ‘nonsense’: balderdash, gobbledygook, humbug, hogwash, gibberish, baloney, rubbish, twaddle.

  5. 5
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    I was surprised to read that ‘poppycock’ presumably comes from the Dutch ‘pappekak’, i.e. diarrhea.

    Which makes this product even more disturbing.

  6. 6
    machintelligence

    Steven Pinker’s talk which includes obscenities is also well worth watching. Here is a link to part one:

  7. 7
    machintelligence

    Oops. I didn’t think that was going to happen. Sorry.

  8. 8
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    That excerpt is seriously lacking in gender analysis. “Bitch” is applied “equally” to men and women now? Hardly, and when it’s applied to men, it’s comparing them to women. The author doesn’t seem to be interested in exploring why “the feminization of ambisexual terms” occurs, or why “to fuck someone” means to harm them. Oh, and I really liked her dig at Madonna when she mentioned the word “madge” as an archaic slang term for “pussy.” Not.

  9. 9
    Pierce R. Butler

    “Huffle…” – I’ll never be able to read Harry Potter stories in the same way again.

    While Dr. Mohr has clearly done more research on all this than I ever will, I still have to differ with her on “roger”, which – as illustrated by Ogvorbis above – has seen much more use as a verb than as a noun.

  10. 10
    gridironmonger

    I can understand why some terms, once fallen out of use, stay lost. However, now that I think about it, I’m surprised that “bagpiping” isn’t re-invented and brought back into use once lost.

  11. 11
    Lynna, OM

    “Nackle-ass” will be useful when discussing John Boehner.

  12. 12
    Marcus Ranum

    my list of favourite synonyms for ‘nonsense’:

    See also: “talking points” and “powerpoint”

  13. 13
    Marcus Ranum

    John Boehner.

    I did hear someone refer to his boehner being covered in santorum, and I giggled.

  14. 14
    Anisopteran

    #4: Not quite.
    Check here.

    The OED is firm in dismissing one often-heard view of its origin, from the Dutch word pappekak for soft faeces. It says firmly “no such word appears to be attested in Dutch” but points to the very similar word poppekak, which appears only in the old set phrase zo fijn als gemalen poppekak, meaning to show excessive religious zeal, but which literally means “as fine as powdered doll shit”.

    Not a substance one encounters very often…

  15. 15
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Not a substance one encounters very often…

    Well, there is txpiper over on the Intolerant Atheists thread. Or Michele Bachmann latest speech. Or my writings. All pretty damn close to being “as fine as powdered doll shit.”

  16. 16
    machintelligence

    Any guesses why the pirate flag with skull and cross bones is called the Jolly Roger?

  17. 17
    Dauphni

    I hadn’t heard tipping the velvet before and I think it’s a wonderful name for a wonderful activity. I’m keeping it!

    gridironmonger @10

    I can understand why some terms, once fallen out of use, stay lost. However, now that I think about it, I’m surprised that “bagpiping” isn’t re-invented and brought back into use once lost.

    You’ll be glad to know that it’s still retained with that meaning in Dutch. Though to be completely honest, it’s only regular piping, because we don’t have many bagpipes over here. :p

  18. 18
    CaitieCat, getaway driver

    There’s a great miniseries called “Tipping the Velvet”, based on a book by Sarah Waters, about a young woman who becomes a sex worker in the late Victorian in London.

    Also, back when I was doing my undergrad linguistics degree, i was delighted to discover in our library a periodical called “Maledicta”, a journal for linguistic study of curse words.

  19. 19
    David Marjanović

    zo fijn als gemalen poppekak, meaning to show excessive religious zeal

    :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

  20. 20
    Stacy

    That excerpt is seriously lacking in gender analysis. “Bitch” is applied “equally” to men and women now? Hardly, and when it’s applied to men, it’s comparing them to women.

    She doesn’t make that claim; she says that it’s “become more equal-opportunity” in that it “can now be applied to men and women.” As far as that goes, she’s right: I have heard “bitch” directed at men as a sort of generic insult–ie, “you’re a bad, hateful person.” (And I heard it literally on the street–I live in urban Los Angeles, in a low income neighborhood, the men and women I’ve heard use it that way weren’t trying to make a social point, they were just pissed off at someone.) But as far as my experience goes it’s still pretty rare to hear it used that way (overheard a handful of times over the course of several years.)

  21. 21
    Ragutis

    Fartleberries may be the best word I’ve ever seen. Dammit, my library network doesn’t have the book in it. Gotta see if I can spare the $17 this month and just order it.

    May I second the recommendation for Tipping the Velvet*? The Beeb did a nice job on the miniseries. And c’mon: Keely Hawes and Rachel Stirling?

    * http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0324264/

    (Sorry, I haven’t found a good Chrome text editor yet, and now I get errors every time I try to use the one in Firefox.)

  22. 22
    David Hart

    Actually, according to Roger’s Profanisaurus, ‘bagpiping’ has been brought into use, but this time it describes a practice that is hard to imagine having much popularity.
    (you’ll need to scroll down a bit in that link for the definition)

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