How to drive a Brit crazy


It turns out to be really easy. All it takes is five little words.

“‘Cunt’ is a sexist slur.”

Ophelia is discovering this.

Maki Naro posted this little comment on twitter.

I retweeted it, and then the replies came flooding in. The defenses are hilarious, irrational, and indignant. It’s incredibly common to see people protest that it’s a perfectly acceptable word; everyone says it in England; it doesn’t have any sexual connotations at all, because apparently, people in the UK are so stupid that they don’t remember that it’s a word that refers to the female genitalia. The Argument from Regional Ubiquity simply doesn’t work — would we accept that Southerners get a free pass on calling people “nigger” because everyone down there is rednecked cracker, so it’s OK?

Other common arguments: it can’t be sexist, because we mostly call men “cunts” to insult them. Yeah, there’s nothing misogynist at all about thinking the most degrading thing you can call a man is to refer to him as a woman’s private parts.

Another one: So then is calling someone a “dick” sexist, too? Yes. We shouldn’t do that. And since when does “you said a bad word!” mean you get a free pass to use a different bad word?

Maki has been making his replies to these idiots in cartoon form.

There have been silly attempts to redefine “cunt” to strip it of all sexual connotations. Sorry, it’s still got them.

Another common excuse: “well, I don’t mean to be sexist, so it’s OK.”

I’ve also been amused by the condescending criticisms: we Americans don’t know how to swear properly, or it’s supposed to be insulting, that’s why it’s a bad word.

Right. Because the best way to hurt an individuals feelings is to demean half the population of the planet.

I’ve also been impressed by how damned insistent some people have become over this — they’re practically frothing in their insistence that it’s not sexist at all in their demand that it’s perfectly legitimate to use women’s vulvae as the most disgusting and contemptible thing in the world. They do go on and on. So I won’t. It’s still a prohibited usage here. Swear all you want, but racist/sexist smears are examples of bigotry and will not be tolerated.

Comments

  1. Remster says

    @SallyStrange #495

    Just to be clear, Remster, you think it’s possible that the act of insulting a person by comparing them to a woman or a characteristic that is thought to define women owes nothing to the centuries of denigration, dehumanization, and disenfranchisement of women in our society?

    OK, just a couple of preliminaries. First, I don’t know which word you have in mind for ‘comparing them to a woman’, but I assume that for ‘comparing them to a characteristic that is thought to define women’ you mean ‘c*nt’, which is what I’ll try to address. Second, I’ve no idea whether ‘c*nt’ became an insult through comparison of a person with a vagina, as you propose, or because it was already a taboo word and taboo words make the best insults, but I’ll go with your proposal for the sake of discussion.

    So do I think it’s possible that the act of insulting a person by comparing them to a characteristic that is thought to define women owes nothing to the centuries of denigration, dehumanization, and disenfranchisement of women in our society? Yes I do, because I think it’s possible that the difference in degree of insult between ‘c*nt’ and ‘pr*ck’ (for example) owes nothing to the fact that one refers to female genitalia and the other to male genitalia.

  2. Gnumann+,not bloody bleeding Gnumann (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun) says

    @Thumper:

    I agree re. the analogies being common (“axe-wound” springs to mind…), but I don’t see any allusion to her genitalia in the proposed origins. It merely suggests that the meat was so horrible that sailor’s joked it was really her remains. Weighing the two theories up, logic and Occam’s razor leads me to lend more weight to the “initials” theory rather than the “remains of a murdered girl” theory.

    It’s kinda hard to say. And sailours lingo is kinda soft on hard sources.
    The drift from dead girl>chopped meat>female sexual organ conforms to a well established pattern and makes sense. And one does not exclude the other. The “nothing”-meaning wasn’t actually part of my point.

    The link between Fanny Adams and chopped meat seems reasonably well documented (for a comment-field standard at least) – the wiki page leads to this as documentation: http://www3.hants.gov.uk/museum/curtis-museum/alton-history/fanny-adams.htm

    I’m not terribly invested in the issue, but I find it kinda intriguing (and depressing) that the “more innocent” slang might have a fairly black origin.

  3. Gnumann+,not bloody bleeding Gnumann (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun) says

    bah – borkquote!
    2,3 and 4 is me of course.

  4. procrastinatorordinaire says

    @487 Thumper

    You are confusing “meaning” with “potential to insult”.

    By focussing on meaning instead of potential to insult, you have lost sight of the reason people use invectives in the first place.

  5. Remster says

    @Thumper

    Allright then, you have to consider why the height of all offensiveness is a word referring to female genitalia and not male. Considering our culture’s history of misogyny, I think it’s a leap of logic to assume that heightened disgust for female genitalia as opposed to male genitalia does not play at least some part in it.

    I’d agree without reservation if it weren’t for the facts that I’ve already alluded to:

    ‘Pr*ck’ (male genitalia) isn’t a million miles behind ‘c*nt’ in insultingness but is a million miles ahead of ‘f*nny’ (female genitalia).

    ‘F*cker’ (less disgust) is a million miles ahead of ‘b*gger’ (more disgust) in insultingness.

    Also, there’s a distinction between how a word came to be insulting and how it remains insulting. I assume (dangerously) that we wouldn’t want to jettison all words that had dubious origins.

    OK, the ‘nym. It’s from the name of the 1980s Manchester United footballer Remi Moses. I started using it in about 2001 when it was the first thing that came to mind, and it’s stuck. That’s a bit disappointing, isn’t it?

  6. Remster says

    @Thumper

    Allright then, you have to consider why the height of all offensiveness is a word referring to female genitalia and not male. Considering our culture’s history of misogyny, I think it’s a leap of logic to assume that heightened disgust for female genitalia as opposed to male genitalia does not play at least some part in it.

    I’d agree without reservation if it weren’t for the facts that I’ve already alluded to:

    – ‘Pr*ck’ (male genitalia) isn’t a million miles behind ‘c*nt’ in insultingness but is a million miles ahead of ‘f*nny’ (female genitalia).

    – ‘F*cker’ (less disgust) is a million miles ahead of ‘b*gger’ (more disgust) in insultingness.

    Also, there’s a distinction between how a word came to be insulting and how it remains insulting. I assume (dangerously) that we wouldn’t want to jettison all words that had dubious origins.

    OK, the ‘nym. It’s from the name of the 1980s Manchester United footballer Remi Moses. I started using it in about 2001 when it was the first thing that came to mind, and it’s stuck. That’s a bit disappointing, isn’t it?

  7. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    @procrastinatorordinaire #504

    By focussing on meaning instead of potential to insult, you have lost sight of the reason people use invectives in the first place.

    You at #469:

    If the literal meaning of the word was significant, shouldn’t you be able to substitute any other synonym for female genitalia into the phrase to achieve the same effect?

    >> I can’t believe he did that, what a vulva!

    >> Watch out for Harry, he’s a vicious fanny!

    Me at #471, my first comment in this thread:

    Do you think the meaning of those phrases has been substantially changed by replacing the C-word with other synonyms for vagina? Because they haven’t. And I’m a Brit.

    You at #483:

    Yes I do. In my experience, a far more accurate substitution in these phrases would be b@stard or f~cker. No other word for female genitalia has the potency and vulgarity of c~nt, and no word for the male anatomy has the same brutality.

    And finally, my answer at #487:

    You are confusing “meaning” with “potential to insult”.

    Whether you call someone a c**t or a twat, what you are really saying is that they are a vagina. Because that’s what both of those words mean. That is the meaning of the phrase. However, the former is considered more insulting than the latter, for some reason, and it’s potential to be insulting is greater, even though it’s meaning is the same.

    You are also confusing “accurate” and “equivalent”.

    Thanks to the magical powers of teh internetz and copypasta, I can dredge up the whole conversation and we can now see how this supercillious, sneering little platitude is nothing more than an attempt to move the goalposts and avoid acknowledging that you did, in fact, confuse “meaning” with “potential to insult” in comment #483.

    Aside from the fact that it’s nothing more than a distraction technique, it’s utterly meaningless in the context of this conversation. Of course people use invectives, at least when directing said invective at another person, to insult others. That much is trivially obvious to a three year old. What’s your point?

    And, since you appear to have misunderstood my whole point, here it is: In the original quoted comment, you used synonyms of vagina and I pointed out that it did not change the meaning, that the insult was still “You are a vagina”. And that’s the problem. Why is it insulting to be called a vagina? Why is it the most insulting to be called a vagina? Think about it.

  8. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    @Remster #506

    Procrastinatorextraordinaire actually put it best at #483. …no word for the male anatomy has the same brutality. Or rather, the same percieved brutality.

    OK, the ‘nym. It’s from the name of the 1980s Manchester United footballer Remi Moses. I started using it in about 2001 when it was the first thing that came to mind, and it’s stuck. That’s a bit disappointing, isn’t it?

    Not really, I was just curious. To be honest, kids at my school used to use it as an insult, a play on “remedial”, but I assumed there was some more innocent explanation for you using it. So I was curious.

  9. azhael says

    Hey Remster, rather than going on and on about how this gendered pejorative is slightly less offensive than this other gendered pejorative but much worse than that other gendered pejorative, how about just sticking to non-gendered pejoratives?
    The fact of the matter is that using a body part that identifies a specific gender as an insult is sexist reagardless of the degree of offensiveness, there’s no two ways about it, so why not just use one of the MANY other pejoratives that attack the specific individual/s you are targeting rather than denigrate entire human groups that have fuck all to do with the situation?

  10. Gnumann+,not bloody bleeding Gnumann (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun) says

    azhael:

    The fact of the matter is that using a body part that identifies a specific gender as an insult is sexist reagardless of the degree of offensiveness, there’s no two ways about it, so why not just use one of the MANY other pejoratives that attack the specific individual/s you are targeting rather than denigrate entire human groups that have fuck all to do with the situation?

    But he totally does! He’s Just Asking Questions(tm)!

  11. says

    Gnumann+ and the rest of the Horde who have been fighting the good fight on this thread – I Just want to Ask a Question, too.

    To all of you explaining and defending and fighting for your right to call me a c**t:

    1) Why is your right to use language that offends a specific group of people so important to you?

    2) Is this really the hill you’re willing to die on?

    3) And given the above, where’s my right to free speech to tell you you’re being offensive?

    Seriously, it’s like a little child throwing a tantrum. “I will say that bad word! I will! I WILL! WAAAHHHHHH!”

  12. says

    Explain to me again why you think it’s possible that insulting people by comparing them to female genitalia owes nothing to our culture’s centuries-long history of using those same female genitalia as markers to identify women as second-class citizens, not allowed to own property, businesses, attend school, vote, be in public alone, and targeted for sexual violence, Remster. Because I didn’t follow you the first time. Something to do with the word “prick”?

    Explain how that works. Explain how to insult people by comparing them to female anatomy without referencing AT ALL these centuries of entrenched misogyny. How does one achieve such rigid conceptual compartmentalization, whether on the level of an individual or on the level of a culture?

  13. Gnumann+,not bloody bleeding Gnumann (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun) says

    Anne D:
    Thanks, but I’m not really the one who’s done heavy lifting here. I just chipped in a cranky bit at the end…

  14. Remster says

    @Thumper #508

    Procrastinatorextraordinaire actually put it best at #483. “…no word for the male anatomy has the same brutality.” Or rather, the same percieved brutality.

    Well, that kind of supports my position: ‘c*nt’ and ‘f*ck’ are the worst words not because of what they denote or because of attitudes towards what they denote but because they’re brutal to the ears. Have I misunderstood you?

    [blockquote]To be honest, kids at my school used to use it as an insult, a play on “remedial”, but I assumed there was some more innocent explanation for you using it. So I was curious.[/blockquote]
    Oh dear, I’d never heard that. When on other websites I defend gay marriage, I sometimes get called ‘Rimster’ (oh, the pain!) but that’s closest it’s come to an insult in all the years I’ve used it.

  15. Remster says

    @Anne D #511

    Are people doing that? I’m certainly not. My position is similar to the position I’d adopt on a fundamentalist Christian site in a discussion about murder: I agree it shouldn’t be done, but not for the same reason as you. Perhaps this is an irrelevant distinction on this site. If so, WAAAHHHHHH!

  16. Remster says

    @azhael #509

    [H]ow about just sticking to non-gendered pejoratives?

    Agreed, as Gnumann has helpfully pointed out in House Comedy Style.

    The fact of the matter is that using a body part that identifies a specific gender as an insult is sexist reagardless of the degree of offensiveness.

    Only in the same sense as ‘daughter’ is sexist, i.e. no helpful sense at all.

  17. azhael says

    @519 Remster

    Only in the same sense as ‘daughter’ is sexist, i.e. no helpful sense at all.

    I don’t see people using “daughter” as a strong pejorative to denigrate or attack other people. If they were, though, yes, it would most definitely be a sexist insult.

  18. Remster says

    @SallyStrange

    I think it’s possible because it’s also possible to insult people by comparing them with male genitalia and with body parts and activities that aren’t gender specific (assuming once again that comparison is what’s going on here). I appreciate that in the American English ‘c*nt’ is way ahead of all other words in its insult value, but in British English this simply isn’t the case: it’s only a short distance ahead of ‘prick’ and no distance at all ahead of ‘f*cker’.

    (Standard disclaimer: I’m not advocating the use of any of these words. I’m just querying whether the issue is one of sexism.)

  19. Christopher says

    I found this interesting:

    http://skepticalhumanities.com/2011/01/18/chaucers-cunt/

    Chaucer’s Cunt

    the word that Chaucer uses is not “cunt,” but “queynte.” “Queint,” as a noun, literally means “a clever or curious device or ornament” (Middle English Dictionary) or an “elegant, pleasing thing” (Riverside Chaucer). When used to refer to a woman’s genitalia, it is both a euphemism and a pun.

    “Cunt,” like many naughty words for body parts and bodily functions, probably has its origins in Old English. It certainly has cognates in other medieval Germanic languages, such as Old Norse kunta and Old Frisian, Middle Low German and Middle Dutch kunte (Oxford English Dictionary). There are no known instances of it in Old English, however. James McDonald, in The Wordsworth Dictionary of Obscenity and Taboo, suggests that it may be related to Old English cynd, which means “origin, generation, birth, kind, offspring” and can also mean “genitalia” (Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary).

    According to The Oxford English Dictionary, the earliest use of “cunt” is in the street name “Gropecuntelane” (c. 1230). The earliest instance of “cunt” used to refer to the vagina comes from around 1325 (OED, MED). McDonald also cites several personal names that incorporate “cunt” (a number of these are earlier than “Gropecuntlane”). He lists the women’s names Gunoka Cuntles (1219) and Bele Wydecynthe (1328) and men’s names Godwin Clawecuncte (1066), Simon Sitbithecunte (1167), John Fillecunt (1246) and Robert Clevecunt (1302). Ladies, if you ever meet a man named Godwin Clawcunt or Robert Cleavecunt, run!

    According to McDonald, “cunt” was used to refer to the vagina without any suggestion of vulgarity until roughly the end of the fourteenth century. Chaucer, who died in 1400, was therefore writing The Canterbury Tales at a time when cunts were disappearing from polite society; consequently, he hinted at the word without actually using it.

    I think we should resurrect queynte with not only its original meaning (an elegant, pleasing thing), but also a euphemism for female genitalia, and as a positive, vulgar descriptor (“Ay, he’s a good queynte”). If it is a good thing to be compared to female genitalia, wouldn’t that strip the word of its misogyny?

  20. Maureen Brian says

    I’m guessing, Remster, that you’re not a woman and you don’t appear to have given this matter a great deal of thought at earlier stages in your life.

    So when you say “I’m just querying whether the issue is one of sexism” then how the hell would you know? Whose word would you take for it either way?

  21. anteprepro says

    Remster :

    Only in the same sense as ‘daughter’ is sexist, i.e. no helpful sense at all.

    lolwut? Did you carefully elide the “insult” element of the issue here, or are you really just so inept that it slipped your mind?

  22. Christopher says

    I think wordpress might’ve ate my comment.

    Anyway, I found this informative:
    http://skepticalhumanities.com/2011/01/18/chaucers-cunt/

    I think we should resurrect queynte with not only its original meaning (an elegant, pleasing thing), but also a euphemism for female genitalia, and as a positive, vulgar descriptor (“Ay, he’s a good queynte”). If it is a good thing to be compared to female genitalia, wouldn’t that strip the word of its misogyny?

  23. Christopher says

    Hmmmmm, is the reason why people are using asterisk euphemisms (like c*nt) because PZ is shoving posts with certain words into the killfile?

    If so, damn, my html link has a naughty word.

    I wonder if it works inside an A tag

    I think we should resurrect queynte with not only its original meaning (an elegant, pleasing thing), but also a euphemism for female genitalia, and as a positive, vulgar descriptor (“Ay, he’s a good queynte”). If it is a good thing to be compared to female genitalia, wouldn’t that strip the word of its misogyny?

  24. Christopher says

    Hmmmmm, is the reason why people are using asterisk euphemisms (like c*nt) because PZ is shoving posts with certain words into the killfile?

    If so, damn, my html link has a naughty word.

    http://skepticalhumanities.com/2011/01/18/chaucers-c*nt/

    I think we should resurrect queynte with not only its original meaning (an elegant, pleasing thing), but also a euphemism for female genitalia, and as a positive, vulgar descriptor (“Ay, he’s a good queynte”). If it is a good thing to be compared to female genitalia, wouldn’t that strip the word of its misogyny?

  25. twas brillig (stevem) says

    If it is a good thing to be compared to female genitalia, wouldn’t that strip the word of its misogyny?

    But then it’s misandry. Either way, calling a person an anatomical feature of the other sex is Offensive, even when used as a complement. or so this thread seems to be saying

  26. says

    Christopher @ 526,

    Why are you so set on using a slang term for female genitalia as a descriptor at all? If it’s such a fine idea, why not use the male equivalent instead? Surely “Aye, he’s a good prick” (or “dick”, or “peepee”) would work just as well, and avoid punching down on an already oppressed group into the bargain.

    But then, that just wouldn’t be as much fun for you, would it?

  27. Christopher says

    But if we can’t be vulgar with genitalia, all we’re left with is ass and poop words.

    It is probably high time to find some monosyllabic words with hard consonant endings that currently have no definition, which we can define to be a non-gendered, vulgar insult with no baggage.

  28. says

    Christopher @ 529,

    What’s wrong with ass and poop words? Coprolite has a good ring to it, and so does scat, and there’s always shit. Can’t go wrong with the ungendered classics.

  29. Remster says

    @azhael #520 (@Maureen Brian #522, @anteprepro #523, @Tony! #524)

    Tony has pre-empted me. I was about to say that we seem to understand the term ‘sexist’ in different ways. You seem to understand it in such a way that an insult is sexist if it’s pejorative and gender specific. I understand it in such a way that an insult is sexist only if it’s pejorative because it’s gender specific (or, more accurately, because of the specific gender that it relates to). I understand other words of the same category (‘racist’, ‘disabilist’, etc.) in similar ways.

    Now, I’m not going to fight over the word ‘sexist’, partly because I don’t believe in the ownership of words, and partly because there are people like Maureen Brian watching, who’ve spent their whole lives in servitude to me and deserve a break. But I would say that if we’re going to use the word as you understand it (and, for all I know, as everyone else here understands it), while I’ll accept that ‘c*nt’ is sexist, my objection to it will have nothing to do with this.

  30. anteprepro says

    Christopher

    But if we can’t be vulgar with genitalia, all we’re left with is ass and poop words.

    Also blasphemous terms. Honestly, I think that “vulgar with genitalia” doesn’t add much to our spectrum of vulgarities anyway. We desperately need more curses. Perhaps we should invent some vulgar terms based on universal evils, like pneumonia, cancer, right-wing politics, and people who don’t use their blinkers.

  31. Remster says

    @Anne D

    I’m liking ‘coprolite’. Sounds like a toilet-cleaning product.

  32. Christopher says

    Why are you so set on using a slang term for female genitalia as a descriptor at all? If it’s such a fine idea, why not use the male equivalent instead? Surely “Aye, he’s a good prick” (or “dick”, or “peepee”) would work just as well, and avoid punching down on an already oppressed group into the bargain.

    It’s a yin-yang thing: nobody seems to mind that euphemisms for the penis all carry negative connotations (being a dick, a prick, a dickhead, or a cock is not a good thing), for symmetry we should have a vulgar genitalia derived word that implies something positive.

    There will always be vulgar terms for genitalia and rectums: they are taboo subjects that can be quite biologically gross at times. We will never excise all vulgar genitalia based words from our language because they fill a needed niche. Trying to drive them out of the language Victorian style will only give them more power and staying ability. The best we can hope for is to redefine out some of the baggage, or replace them with new baggage-less creations that fill the same niche.

  33. Remster says

    Here’s an edifying story for you all. I just asked my wife for her opinion on the word ‘c*nt’ (I know she doesn’t like it but I’ve never bothered to find out why). Her response: ‘I don’t even know what it means. Has it got something to do with ejaculation?’

    For the record, she doesn’t think it’s sexist either, but I’m not inferring anything from this case of one.

  34. anteprepro says

    Remster

    You seem to understand it in such a way that an insult is sexist if it’s pejorative and gender specific. I understand it in such a way that an insult is sexist only if it’s pejorative because it’s gender specific (or, more accurately, because of the specific gender that it relates to).

    Do you deny that the former tends to imply the latter? It would be an odd coincidence if a word managed to undeniably pejorative, undeniably gender specific, and yet was perjorative in a way that was utterly independent of its gendered nature. Especially if it is disproportionately applied to person of the gender related to the term. Especially if the various associations with that term have to do with stereotypical thoughts, attitudes, behaviors, etc. of that gender.

  35. Christopher says

    What’s wrong with ass and poop words? Coprolite has a good ring to it, and so does scat, and there’s always shit. Can’t go wrong with the ungendered classics.

    Shit is right up there with fuck in the pantheon of wondrous curse words; capable of being marshaled into almost any form of speech and expressing everything from disdain to joy. Rectum derived words are also quite useful. But once someone has found the joy of using vulgar ass words, they will seek out alternatives to expand their cursing lexicon, and it is a short journey from the rectum to the genitals….

  36. anteprepro says

    Christopher:

    It’s a yin-yang thing: nobody seems to mind that euphemisms for the penis all carry negative connotations (being a dick, a prick, a dickhead, or a cock is not a good thing), for symmetry we should have a vulgar genitalia derived word that implies something positive.

    I have a hard time imagining a term that is both “vulgar” and “positive” being pulled off successfully. At least not in American culture. “Vulgarity” is in itself considered negative.

    Remster:

    Her response: ‘I don’t even know what it means. Has it got something to do with ejaculation?’

    For the record, she doesn’t think it’s sexist either, but I’m not inferring anything from this case of one.

    Then why bother mentioning it?

  37. Remster says

    @anteprepro #536

    Do you deny that the former tends to imply the latter?

    Possibly it tends to, but in this case we have another explanation for why ‘c*nt’ and ‘pr*ck’ are gender specific, and I hope it’s obvious: the vast majority of people have only one or the other, and in the vast majority of cases the divide is drawn along gender lines.

    Especially if it is disproportionately applied to person of the gender related to the term. Especially if the various associations with that term have to do with stereotypical thoughts, attitudes, behaviors, etc. of that gender.

    I’m not sure which perspective you’re coming from, but this doesn’t apply to ‘c*nt’ (or ‘pr*ck’) in British English – which is what I understand this thread to be about.

    PS My comment about ‘daughter’ was unhelpful, so sorry about that!

  38. Remster says

    @anteprepro #538

    Then why bother mentioning it?

    Oh, because I’d forgotten briefly what sort of company I was in.

  39. Christopher says

    I have a hard time imagining a term that is both “vulgar” and “positive” being pulled off successfully. At least not in American culture. “Vulgarity” is in itself considered negative.

    I have often used swear words in a positive context and have heard others do the same. Just because a word is ‘bad’ doesn’t mean that it always has to describe something negatively.

    http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/observer/2012/may-june-12/the-science-of-swearing.html


    Swearing can occur with any emotion and yield positive or negative outcomes. Our work so far suggests that most uses of swear words are not problematic. We know this because we have recorded over 10,000 episodes of public swearing by children and adults, and rarely have we witnessed negative consequences. We have never seen public swearing lead to physical violence. Most public uses of taboo words are not in anger; they are innocuous or produce positive consequences (e.g., humor elicitation). No descriptive data are available about swearing in private settings, however, so more work needs to be done in that area.

    Therefore, instead of thinking of swearing as uniformly harmful or morally wrong, more meaningful information about swearing can be obtained by asking what communication goals swearing achieves. Swear words can achieve a number of outcomes, as when used positively for joking or storytelling, stress management, fitting in with the crowd, or as a substitute for physical aggression. Recent work by Stephens et al. even shows that swearing is associated with enhanced pain tolerance. This finding suggests swearing has a cathartic effect, which many of us may have personally experienced in frustration or in response to pain.

  40. daniellavine says

    Remster, I’m really having trouble understanding how you can’t follow the basics of this.

    Calling a man a p*ssy, c*nt, or tw*t is fundamentally* meant as an insult. Why are synonyms for “vagina” used as insults for men? Because the way that masculinity is constructed in western European cultures and their derivatives, to liken a man to a woman is to denigrate his masculinity.

    That all seems so obvious to me I’m not sure what all the lawyering and wrangling is about.

    As far as why “pr*ck” is taken to be less insulting than “c*nt”, again pretty obvious. First of all, I observe that I can’t remember a single instance of a woman being called a “pr*ck”. Perhaps I have experienced such a thing but it is so rare that I cannot remember even one instance. (Though “c*nt” seems to be the term of abuse par excellence for women among my fellow USanians. Not sure whether that’s also true on your side of the pond — perhaps “tw*t” is more common there?)

    So why is it more insulting to call a man a “c*nt” rather than a “pr*ck”? Because the word “pr*ck” is affirming the man’s masculinity rather than denigrating it. He’s being insulted for not being nice enough, but according to the sexist logic that gives these terms of abuse any power in the first place, it’s better to be manly than nice (which is a rather womanly thing to be anyway, amirite guys?).

    All of which only underscores the sexism implicit in gendered epithets.

    What am I wrong about here?

    *One can, of course, call a close friend a “tw*t” or something out of affection but that is clearly a derivative, perhaps ironic sense and not the primary use of the term.

  41. anteprepro says

    Possibly it tends to, but in this case we have another explanation for why ‘c*nt’ and ‘pr*ck’ are gender specific, and I hope it’s obvious: the vast majority of people have only one or the other, and in the vast majority of cases the divide is drawn along gender lines.

    But c*nt doesn’t just mean vagina and only vagina. Prick doesn’t mean just penis and only penis. Which is why they are insults. There are connotations associated with these terms.

    Dictionary.com

    Usage note
    All senses of this word are vulgar slang and are very strongly tabooed and censored. The meanings that refer to a woman and a contemptible person are used with disparaging intent and are perceived as highly insulting and demeaning. There are many words used to refer to people in sexual terms. However, to call a person a c*nt, especially a woman, is one of the most hateful and powerful examples of verbal abuse in the English language. See also gash1 .

    noun Slang: Vulgar.
    1.
    the vulva or vagina.
    2.
    a.
    a contemptuous term used to refer to a woman.
    b.
    a term used to refer to a contemptible person.
    3.
    sexual intercourse with a woman.

    So, again: why is a word with such an extreme negative connotation just happened to be linked to women and/or vaginas?

    I’m not sure which perspective you’re coming from, but this doesn’t apply to ‘c*nt’ (or ‘pr*ck’) in British English – which is what I understand this thread to be about.

    What, exactly, does it mean in British English then?

    Please note: There is in fact a difference of interpretation and usage between British English and U.S. English on the matter. I am not disputing this. The issue of the thread is that people on the internet will use the lesser negative connotations of the word in British English as an excuse for using what is seen as an extremely sexist term to an American audience. Hint as to why this is a problem: It seems like not many of the people who make this excuse are actually British themselves.

  42. anteprepro says

    Remster:

    Oh, because I’d forgotten briefly what sort of company I was in.

    I imagine tone trolling is on the horizon.

    Christopher: You are making a sleight of hand. First, just because it makes the person using it feel better doesn’t mean that the term is positive. Second, just because it doesn’t lead to physical violence doesn’t mean that it is positive.

    Can the person you call “c*nt” or “fecal dropping” or “anal sphincter” or “intestinal parasite” ever be complimented by those terms? Can you imagine a circumstance where a significant majority of Americans would hear some described in those or similar vulgar terms, and view that as a positive thing? If so, I would like for you to explain, because I can’t. If not, then you either agree with me or have a very particular definition of “vulgar”.

  43. Christopher says

    What’s the consensus on douche, douche-bag, or douche-nozzle?

    On one hand, they are somewhat gendered, derived from an item used exclusively on vaginas.

    On the other hand, they are useless, possibly harmful examples of patriarchy, which I think is a pretty good insult that is usually quite apt given the usual context of the word’s use.

  44. Christopher says

    Christopher: You are making a sleight of hand. First, just because it makes the person using it feel better doesn’t mean that the term is positive. Second, just because it doesn’t lead to physical violence doesn’t mean that it is positive.

    Can the person you call “c*nt” or “fecal dropping” or “anal sphincter” or “intestinal parasite” ever be complimented by those terms? Can you imagine a circumstance where a significant majority of Americans would hear some described in those or similar vulgar terms, and view that as a positive thing? If so, I would like for you to explain, because I can’t. If not, then you either agree with me or have a very particular definition of “vulgar”.

    They claim it is positive because swapping curses is used as a substitute for violence.

    If someone called you a “bad ass” would you be flattered or insulted?

  45. daniellavine says

    Christopher@546:

    Poor example since “bad ass” isn’t particularly vulgar.

    “Motherfucker” in music culture used to mean someone who is damned good at playing his or her instrument. The Mothers of Invention were originally just The Mothers — short for “motherfucker” in this sense. (Their label forced them to add “of Invention” because of the reference to vulgarity.) For that example, Jules in Pulp Fiction carried around a wallet that said “BAD ASS MOTHERFUCKER” on it.

    None of that makes insulting people a “positive”. You are engaged in a sleight of hand here because insults are not the only alternative to violence. One need not choose between insulting and harming another; one is always free to do neither.

  46. twas brillig (stevem) says

    re “copro*”:
    to derail this thread, I’ve always wondered about the British word “shite”, being so similar to American word “shit”. Did the British try to tone down the word by sticking an “e” on the end (changing the “i” from short to long) or, did the Americans drop the “e” to be be more vulgar? Even, does “shite” refer to the copro-stuff or is it a completely different reference than to “poop” (noun, or verb, of the word?)?

  47. Christopher says

    Poor example since “bad ass” isn’t particularly vulgar.

    “Motherfucker” in music culture used to mean someone who is damned good at playing his or her instrument. The Mothers of Invention were originally just The Mothers — short for “motherfucker” in this sense. (Their label forced them to add “of Invention” because of the reference to vulgarity.) For that example, Jules in Pulp Fiction carried around a wallet that said “BAD ASS MOTHERFUCKER” on it.

    I was trying to stay away from gendered insults (though is motherfucker gendered, couldn’t anyone fuck a mother given the motivation?)

    None of that makes insulting people a “positive”. You are engaged in a sleight of hand here because insults are not the only alternative to violence. One need not choose between insulting and harming another; one is always free to do neither.

    The use of vulgar words isn’t restricted to insulting someone. Most of the time they are used in a non-insulting context. The problem that this thread highlights is that some words are insulting to third parties even when not used in a directly insulting way.

    I am of the opinion that we need vulgar curse words in the language to the point that it would be impossible to remove them from any language except perhaps a made up language like esperanto (*googles* damn even that isn’t immune: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto_profanity).

    The goal should be to attain a nice collection of curse words that encompasses the general niches of vulgarity but don’t accidentally insult third parties through their use.

  48. Christopher says

    to derail this thread, I’ve always wondered about the British word “shite”, being so similar to American word “shit”. Did the British try to tone down the word by sticking an “e” on the end (changing the “i” from short to long) or, did the Americans drop the “e” to be be more vulgar? Even, does “shite” refer to the copro-stuff or is it a completely different reference than to “poop” (noun, or verb, of the word?)?

    The english could never agree how to spell words, even amongst their tiny island.

    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=shit

    shit (v.) Look up shit at Dictionary.com
    Old English scitan, from Proto-Germanic *skit- (cognates: North Frisian skitj, Dutch schijten, German scheissen), from PIE *skei- “to cut, split, divide, separate” (see shed (v.)). The notion is of “separation” from the body (compare Latin excrementum, from excernere “to separate,” Old English scearn “dung, muck,” from scieran “to cut, shear;” see sharn). It is thus a cousin to science and conscience.

    Extensive slang usage; meaning “to lie, to tease” is from 1934; that of “to disrespect” is from 1903. Shite, now a jocular or slightly euphemistic and chiefly British variant of the noun, formerly a dialectal variant, reflects the vowel in the Old English verb (compare German scheissen); the modern verb has been influenced by the noun. Shat is a humorous past tense form, not etymological, first recorded 18c. To shit bricks “be very frightened” attested by 1961. The connection between fear and involuntary defecation has generated expressions since 14c., and probably also is behind scared shitless (1936).

    shit (n.) Look up shit at Dictionary.com
    Old English scitte “purging, diarrhea,” from source of shit (v.). Sense of “excrement” dates from 1580s (Old English had scytel, Middle English shitel for “dung, excrement;” the usual 14c. noun seems to have been turd). Use for “obnoxious person” is since at least 1508; meaning “misfortune, trouble” is attested from 1937. Shit-faced “drunk” is 1960s student slang; shit list is from 1942. Up shit creek “in trouble” is from 1937 (compare salt river). To not give a shit “not care” is from 1922. Pessimistic expression Same shit different day attested from 1997. Shitticism is Robert Frost’s word for scatological writing.

  49. Remster says

    @anteprepro

    I’ve just looked up ‘tone trolling’. What a horrible world of cloaks and daggers some of you people think you inhabit.

    I’ll respond to your longer post shortly.

  50. daniellavine says

    Remster@551:

    People tone troll all the fucking time in all the fucking places. It has nothing to do with “cloak and daggers”. It’s just a slimy way to weasel out of a losing argument.

  51. Remster says

    @daniellavine

    I was referring to anteprepro’s suspicion that tone trolling was on the horizon, not to tone trolling itself. I’ve no intention of fucking tone trolling, if I can fucking help it.

    I’ll respond to your longer post shortly too.

  52. chigau (違う) says

    Remster #551
    Wherever did you find a definition of “tone troll” that included “cloak and dagger”?

  53. jefrir says

    Remster, your attempts to rank swearwords are not as universal as you seem to think. In the dialects I am familiar with, “tw*t” is about as offensive as “c*nt”, and terms for male genitalia are a good way below it. I have also never heard “fanny” used as an insult, ever, any more than I’ve heard “willy” used as one. So, either 1. You are generalizing massively from regional usage or 2. You are full of shit, and probably not here in good faith.
    Just at the moment I’m way more inclined to the “full of shit” option.

  54. daniellavine says

    Remster@553:

    I’ve no intention of fucking tone trolling, if I can fucking help it.

    That would qualify as tone trolling actually.

  55. Christopher says

    That would qualify as tone trolling actually.

    I thought tone trolling was along the lines of, “you said a naughty word therefore your argument is invalid.”

    How can you tone troll while dropping multiple f-bombs in a single sentence?

  56. opposablethumbs says

    partly because there are people like Maureen Brian watching, who’ve spent their whole lives in servitude to me and deserve a break.

    You can fuck right off, you miserable little piece of shit. I almost thought initially that you might have had half a point – thanks so much for clarifying that you’re 100% full of crap.

  57. Remster says

    @daniellavine #542
    OK, let me get the easy bit out of the way first. In the UK it’s rare for any of those body words – ‘c*nt’, ‘pr*ck’, ‘tw*t’, etc. – to be applied to women. The same goes for activity words such as ‘f*cker’ and ‘w*nker’. The insults of choice for women tend to be animal words like ‘b*tch’ (strong) and ‘cow’ (weak). It’s not that it makes no sense for the other words to be applied to women; it’s just unexpected.

    Why are synonyms for “vagina” used as insults for men? Because the way that masculinity is constructed in western European cultures and their derivatives, to liken a man to a woman is to denigrate his masculinity.

    So why is it more insulting to call a man a “c*nt” rather than a “pr*ck”? Because the word “pr*ck” is affirming the man’s masculinity rather than denigrating it.

    If this is the correct story – and I’m by no means accepting that it is – why is it more insulting to call a man (or a woman) a ‘pr*ck’ than it is to call them a ‘tw*t’ or a ‘f*nny’? If you can show me how this fits with your story, I’ll have a closer look at it.

  58. says

    chigau @ 561, yes, exactly.

    Has anyone actually explained why they just have to use female genitalia as an expletive yet? If so, I must’ve missed it and would appreciate being pointed to the relevant post.

    By the way, “because it sounds better” is not a reasonable explanation.

  59. Gnumann+,not bloody bleeding Gnumann (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun) says

    Anne D:

    By the way, “because it sounds better” is not a reasonable explanation.

    Not even when followed by amateur appeal to phonetics that would fit “funt” or”spunt” just as well?

  60. Remster says

    @jefrir #555

    Remster, your attempts to rank swearwords are not as universal as you seem to think. In the dialects I am familiar with, “tw*t” is about as offensive as “c*nt”, and terms for male genitalia are a good way below it. I have also never heard “fanny” used as an insult, ever, any more than I’ve heard “willy” used as one.

    Oh, OK. I’ll try to be a bit more cautious. I’ve lived, studied and worked in various areas of the UK and in various socio-economic settings, but your contrary experience is noted.

  61. anteprepro says

    Remster:

    In the UK it’s rare for any of those body words – ‘c*nt’, ‘pr*ck’, ‘tw*t’, etc. – to be applied to women. The same goes for activity words such as ‘f*cker’ and ‘w*nker’. The insults of choice for women tend to be animal words like ‘b*tch’ (strong) and ‘cow’ (weak). It’s not that it makes no sense for the other words to be applied to women; it’s just unexpected.

    Sophisticated Slurology.

    Speaking of questions never answered, we never get a firm response for why these upstanding gentlemen are seemingly so invested in preserving gendered epitaphs by any excuse necessary. The mental acrobatics they do always looks like it requires such strain and effort, it just makes you wonder what they are getting out of this.

  62. says

    Gnumann+ @564, no, not even then.

    Although I do like “spunt”. ” Squunt” is good too.

    Please excuse my not using block quotes, by the way. I’m trying to work with the little touchscreen keyboard on my little wee tablet, and the spelling corrector is having fits with anything it doesn’t like.

  63. Remster says

    @Anne D #562
    @Gnumann+ #564

    I’ve actually seen ‘twunt’ used quite a lot on the Web, in (I’ve presumed) vain attempts to avoid the offensiveness of ‘c*nt’ and ‘tw*t’. I’m guessing this thread wouldn’t have much truck with that.

  64. Christopher says

    Has anyone actually explained why they just have to use female genitalia as an expletive yet? If so, I must’ve missed it and would appreciate being pointed to the relevant post.

    The foundations of all vulgar language include the following base niches:

    (verbs)

    * fornication

    * defecation

    * urination

    (nouns)

    * penis

    * scrotal sac

    * vagina

    * anus

    * scat

    * urine

    * ejaculate

    Basically any gooey biological function south of the naval is considered taboo, therefore the words to describe them are either clinical or vulgar. The vulgar terms are unchained from the restrictions of grammarians and thus are utilized in various forms of speech and compounded to form novel words with possible expanded or redefined meanings. Language abhors a vacuum: if a vulgarity niche is unfilled, it will be filled by euphemism or word creation.

    There will always be a vulgar synonym(s) for the vagina just like there will always be for the penis. Our only hope is to either modify the meaning current vulgar words in order to eliminate the historical baggage (queer is probably the best example of this), or create a new word to fill that niche and get it widely accepted enough that the older word falls out of favor (I can’t think of a real world example of this).

  65. says

    Christopher @569, yes, dear, I know. Now, please explain why the bad words connected with female naughty bits are so much better.

  66. Remster says

    @anteprepro

    Speaking of questions never answered, we never get a firm response for why these upstanding gentlemen are seemingly so invested in preserving gendered epitaphs by any excuse necessary. The mental acrobatics they do always looks like it requires such strain and effort, it just makes you wonder what they are getting out of this.

    Beats me. Probably not one for a first-person explanation.

    Reply to your longer post coming in a bit …

  67. says

    Anteprepro’s question @543 is a good one. Especially since we’ve had people from the UK in this thread weigh in on the sexist nature of the word when used as an insult. Despite taking on alternate meanings, whether it’s the UK or the US, the word is still used to refer to female genitalia and has since at least the 13th century. Given that, when the word is used to offend someone, how is the offended party supposed to determine which definition of the word is being used?

     

    Some commenters have stated that intent matters. I disagree. Not only that, I find no merit in this response. The offended person is not party to the thoughts of others. They have no way of knowing what was intended. All they know is that they were insulted. As the word has held an anatomical meaning for centuries (and still does), it is reasonable for the offended party to conclude that the insult was meant to compare them to female genitalia. (If the offending party did not intend to use the word in that way, they ought to have more accurately conveyed their thoughts ((at least until humans develop mind reading abilities)). Insulting someone by referring to them as a slang term for female genitalia only works if the perception exists that there is something wrong with, negative, or gross about female genitalia. Why is that sexist?

     

    Sexism is prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination of others–more often than not, women–based on sex. Sexism is a pervasive problem and occurs all over the world, on a daily basis. Women are often thought of as the weaker sex, inferior to men, shrill, hysterical, overly emotional, nurturing, lacking in intellect, and more. In politics, men vastly outnumber women, and it is not uncommon to hear people say that women should not involve themselves in political affairs. Women are denied basic human rights such as freedom of association, movement, and the right to education. Women are denied their right to bodily autonomy, as demonstrated by abortion opponents. Women are raped in significantly greater numbers than men and more often than not, rapists face no punishment. Women are often sexualized or treated as a collection of body parts rather than fully realized people (cf. travel magazines that display the breasts or buttocks of bikini clad women, music videos showing scantily clad women gyrating on a man, comic book artists that portray women in unrealistic sexualized poses).

     

    The perception that women are weaker than men (which is held by many people), combined with dehumanizing them by treating them as things to be fucked help give power to c*nt as an insult.

     

    What does it mean to say “you’re a fucking c*nt*”?
    It means “You’re less than me. You’re inferior to me. You’re just like a woman. And they’re only good for one thing: fucking.”

     

    To use the word c*nt as an insult is demeaning, dehumanizing, and misogynistic.

  68. Christopher says

    Christopher @569, yes, dear, I know. Now, please explain why the bad words connected with female naughty bits are so much better.

    What makes you assign them the ‘better’ label?

    In my language cohort (northern California), slang words derived from male genitalia are used far more often with a wider range of meanings. Wouldn’t that make that class of words better from a utilitarian standpoint?

  69. says

    Anteprepro’s question @543 is a good one. Especially since we’ve had people from the UK in this thread weigh in on the sexist nature of the word when used as an insult. Despite taking on alternate meanings, whether it’s the UK or the US, the word is still used to refer to female genitalia and has since at least the 13th century (see the wikipedia entry on the word; linking to that entry makes use of the full word and that trips the filter). Given that, when the word is used to offend someone, how is the offended party supposed to determine which definition of the word is being used?

     

    Some commenters have stated that intent matters. I disagree. Not only that, I find no merit in this response. The offended person is not party to the thoughts of others. They have no way of knowing what was intended. All they know is that they were insulted. As the word has held an anatomical meaning for centuries (and still does), it is reasonable for the offended party to conclude that the insult was meant to compare them to female genitalia. (If the offending party did not intend to use the word in that way, they ought to have more accurately conveyed their thoughts ((at least until humans develop mind reading abilities)). Insulting someone by referring to them as a slang term for female genitalia only works if the perception exists that there is something wrong with, negative, or gross about female genitalia. Why is that sexist?

     

    Sexism is prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination of others–more often than not, women–based on sex. Sexism is a pervasive problem and occurs all over the world, on a daily basis. Women are often thought of as the weaker sex, inferior to men, shrill, hysterical, overly emotional, nurturing, lacking in intellect, and more. In politics, men vastly outnumber women, and it is not uncommon to hear people say that women should not involve themselves in political affairs. Women are denied basic human rights such as freedom of association, movement, and the right to education. Women are denied their right to bodily autonomy, as demonstrated by abortion opponents. Women are raped in significantly greater numbers than men and more often than not, rapists face no punishment. Women are often sexualized or treated as a collection of body parts rather than fully realized people (cf. travel magazines that display the breasts or buttocks of bikini clad women, music videos showing scantily clad women gyrating on a man, comic book artists that portray women in unrealistic sexualized poses).

     

    The perception that women are weaker than men (which is held by many people), combined with dehumanizing them by treating them as things to be fucked help give power to c*nt as an insult.

     

    What does it mean to say “you’re a fucking c*nt*”?
    It means “You’re less than me. You’re inferior to me. You’re just like a woman. And they’re only good for one thing: fucking.”

     

    To use the word c*nt as an insult is demeaning, dehumanizing, and misogynistic.

  70. says

    Remster:

    OK, let me get the easy bit out of the way first. In the UK it’s rare for any of those body words – ‘c*nt’, ‘pr*ck’, ‘tw*t’, etc. – to be applied to women.

    Did you forget to add the words “in my experience, which cannot be taken to be representative of the entire UK”?

  71. says

    Christopher @572, I’m not doing that, the posters defending this behavior as right, proper, essential and/or “what they do in my country” are.

    I’d just like to know why, when there are perfectly good nongendered swear words out there.

  72. Remster says

    @opposablethumbs #558

    You can fuck right off, you miserable little piece of shit. I almost thought initially that you might have had half a point – thanks so much for clarifying that you’re 100% full of crap.

    So the fact that I said a bad thing (for which apologies to Maureen Brian though not to you – you can ‘f*ck right off, you miserable little piece of sh*t’) makes what I’d said previously less likely to be true. Interesting logic, that.

  73. anteprepro says

    For those of you want a glimpse into the variety of ways c*nt can be used, just check out urban dictionary!

    I’ll wait.

    And please note the following: When you use a word, even if you have in mind one “definition” over another, that word is also characterized by its other uses. Its other definitions. This is its connotation. It is the cultural milieu that it is part of when you use that specific word. If you want to use that word, and yet somehow completely avoid whatever associations and meanings that same word has in different contexts, you are not using language. You are trying to communicate in a vacuum and choose your words “carefully” but using a method that is still completely ignorant about the audience, and indifferent towards the prospect of whether they will actually understand. That’s all well and good for mental masturbation purposes. But other people should actually care about how other people will interpret your word choice.

  74. anteprepro says

    Remster

    So the fact that I said a bad thing (for which apologies to Maureen Brian though not to you – you can ‘f*ck right off, you miserable little piece of sh*t’) makes what I’d said previously less likely to be true. Interesting logic, that.

    If you want to be taken seriously, you will stop acting like a condescending asshole who is intentionally trolling us for shits and giggles. That is the message you should take away from that and start learning as soon as possible.

    What is your actual stance? Your point? What are you actually advocating here?

    So far all I have seen from you is quibbling, handwaving, and rhetorical oversteps that you later wind up apologizing for while still acting smug and still emitting some obfuscatory bullshit, admittedly of no particular significance.

    What are you trying to accomplish?

  75. says

    Anne D:

    I’d just like to know why, when there are perfectly good nongendered swear words out there.

    Yep.
    For example:
    Fuck- wit, nugget
    Douche- bag, nozzle, canoe, wagon, cannon, maggot
    Shart- head, face
    Ass- wipe, clam, castle
    Pissant
    Snotbubble
    Shit- stain, nugget

    Just a few off the top of my head.

  76. Christopher says

    Christopher @572, I’m not doing that, the posters defending this behavior as right, proper, essential and/or “what they do in my country” are.

    I’d just like to know why, when there are perfectly good nongendered swear words out there.

    Oh, in that case I have no good answer for you.

    (thinking back, the only times I can ever remember saying c*nt was with a bad brittish accent and was intended to mock pommies rather than as an insult directed at someone in particular. But then again, I was raised to motherfucker as the ultimate insult, I’m not sure how much better that is)

  77. says

    So the fact that I said a bad thing (for which apologies to Maureen Brian though not to you – you can ‘f*ck right off, you miserable little piece of sh*t’) makes what I’d said previously less likely to be true. Interesting logic, that.

    Well, if you had actually made any claims of fact, then that might be questionable logic. But all you’ve really done is go, “why?” and “what for?” and “why?” and “might it be something else?” and so on.

    Making condescending jokes about the effects of sexism on women’s lives makes it vastly more likely that your stupid questions are motivated by malicious trollery rather than genuine curiosity.

  78. Remster says

    @anteprepro #543

    What, exactly, does it mean in British English then?

    I think it has the same meanings in British as in American English apart from 2a and 3 from the dictionary entry you quoted. It’s 2a that’s relevant to the point we were discussing and, as you picked up from another of my posts, the word is comparatively rarely applied to women in the UK (in my experience).

    But c*nt doesn’t just mean vagina and only vagina. Prick doesn’t mean just penis and only penis. Which is why they are insults. There are connotations associated with these terms.

    For sure, but in British English (within my experience) they’re the same connotations. Perhaps this is the crux of the matter.

    The issue of the thread is that people on the internet will use the lesser negative connotations of the word in British English as an excuse for using what is seen as an extremely sexist term to an American audience.

    Ah, well I certainly wouldn’t condone this, whether by British people or by American people, and whether in the actual or in the virtual company of Americans. It smacks of fishing around for something approximately excuse-shaped.

  79. Remster says

    @anteprepro #578

    [Y]ou will stop acting like a condescending asshole …. That is the message you should take away from that and start learning as soon as possible.

    And they say Americans don’t do irony!
    My stance, which I’ve stated plenty of times – although conceivably it’s become lost amongst all the ‘obfuscatory bullshit, admittedly of no particular significance’ (nothing condescending there!) – is opposition to the use of ‘c*nt’ where it’s liable to offend or otherwise cause harm. But I strongly believe that an important step towards achieving the intended goal of reducing its use in contexts where it’s liable to offend or otherwise cause harm is to be clear about exactly why it’s problematic. Why do I think this? Because some of the people who we’d like to stop using it are intelligent enough to see through unsubstantiated shrieks of ‘Sexist!’ (cf. ‘Witch!’, ‘Commie!’) and will just ignore you.

  80. Remster says

    Of course, this doesn’t explain why I’ve put quite so much effort into it today – that would be an obsessiveness thing.

  81. anteprepro says

    Remster:

    Why do I think this? Because some of the people who we’d like to stop using it are intelligent enough to see through unsubstantiated shrieks of ‘Sexist!’ (cf. ‘Witch!’, ‘Commie!’) and will just ignore you.

    Yeah, okay, you can just go fuck yourself now.

  82. says

    So, not a tone troll after all, but a concern troll! It’s been a while since I spotted one of those. I must note this in my troll-watching journal!

  83. says

    Remster:
    My comment @573 addresses why I think the word is a sexist, misogynistic insult, as well as explaining where {some of} its power is derived. Given that you don’t seem to agree that c*nt as an insult is sexist, do you have a valid argument for why it isn’t?

  84. Remster says

    SallyStrange #583

    Making condescending jokes about the effects of sexism on women’s lives makes it vastly more likely that your stupid questions are motivated by malicious trollery rather than genuine curiosity.

    Correct. Maureen Brian had insulted me, but I agree it was a poor comeback. If I could have deleted the post by now, I would have.

    Well, if you had actually made any claims of fact, then that might be questionable logic. But all you’ve really done is go, “why?” and “what for?” and “why?” and “might it be something else?” and so on.

    Hmm, not so much. This is what opposablethumbs was referring to:

    [W]e seem to understand the term ‘sexist’ in different ways. You seem to understand it in such a way that an insult is sexist if it’s pejorative and gender specific. I understand it in such a way that an insult is sexist only if it’s pejorative because it’s gender specific (or, more accurately, because of the specific gender that it relates to). I understand other words of the same category (‘racist’, ‘disabilist’, etc.) in similar ways.

    I thought this might be kind of helpful. Perhaps the ‘c*nt’-using twitterati understand ‘sexist’ in the same way as I do.

  85. anteprepro says

    If Remster continues to tut-tut the severity of how this term is used, they will no longer have an excuse.

    Here are how people on the English-speaking segments internet actually use the word, or believe the word means based off their cultures. I think their example sentences are also telling.

    These are the top 25 definitions per Urban Dictionary. The lower you get in the rankings, the more odious the shit gets. Warning, do not look at this shit unless you are willing to be disgusted.

    1. Derogatory term for a woman. Considered by many to be the most offensive word in the English language.

    “My ex-girlfriend is a fucking c*nt.

    pussy vagina bitch twat whore slut fuck sex dick asshole snatch ass shit penis cock skank vag cunts fanny clit

    2.

    cunt
    A synonym for a woman’s genitalia, vagina, pussy, etc.

    “She has the preetiest c*nt :-)
    I want to fuck her c*nt
    You fucking c*nt!
    I want to eat her c*nt
    The two women were fucking each other’s c*nt”

    3.
    One of the best parts of a girl’s body.
    The one thing most guys want to get to.
    A reciever for the male penis.
    A degrading name for a girl.

    “That girl’s c*nt is tighter than a vice grip.
    Susie has got one fine c*nt.
    That girl Alice is a c*nt.”

    4.

    For some reason this word really offends people, maybe because of the exceptionally crude sound of the word, or maybe because talking about the female genitalia is still considered unnaceptable. Either way, people cannot seem to comprehend that it is just a word, making it a great thing to say around tight ass pussies to piss them off.

    I especially enjoy seeing feminists who talk about penises all day wince when I say c(nt. Makes me so giddy inside.

    5.
    A slang word for a vagina.
    I have a dripping wet c*nt.

    6.
    The word cunt is only insulting to Americans and over zealous feminists who don’t realise its beauty.

    It has almost replaced the word ‘mate’, often used in Australia to refer to people in a conversation when they can’t be bothered trying to remember your name.

    “Sick Aussie C*nt: Sup c*nt?
    American feminist: I find that insulting
    Sick Aussie C*nt: Piss off

    Sick Aussie C*nt 1: Sup c*nt?
    Sick Aussie C*nt 2: Nothing much, c*nt.”

    7.

    The tastiest meal known to man.
    “I love eating her c*nt…

    8.

    1) A person so vile as to be without any redeeming feature.

    2) A Vagina

    “As he smiled and assured the world that he “cared passionately for the people of Iraq” Tony Blair revealed himself as the personification of a fucking c*nt.”

    As the doctor inspected the vibrator lodged inside Mrs Thatcher’s vagina, he turned and said “The fuckin’ fuckers fucked up that fuckin’ c*nt’s c*nt.”

    9.

    A term for the female genitals, and a highly insulting term (if you’re American; many people in Britain and Austrailia actually use it among frends as a term of endearment).

    “Pudenda” is used more often and concidered aomewhat less “value-laden”, but it’s often overlooked that “pudenda” comes from “pudendum”, which means “shameful part”; many societies see the vulva as unclean and/or shameful, but there’s nothing shameful about the female genitals. “C*nt” is a native English word (and there aren’t many of those) It goes back to an Old Germanic stem “kunton”.

    It may have arose by Grimm’s law operating on the Proto-Indo-European root gen/gon = “create, become” seen in gonads, genital, gamete, genetics, gene, or the Proto-Indo-European root gwne/gune = “woman” seen in gynaecology. The prefix ‘cu’ is one of the oldest word-sounds in recorded language. It is an expression quintessentially associated with femininity, and is the basis of ‘cow’ (‘female animal’), ‘queen’ (‘female monarch’), and, of course, ‘c*nt’ (‘female genital’). The word’s second most significant influence is the Latin term ‘cuneus’, meaning ‘wedge’, from which comes ‘cunnus’ (‘vagina’).

    Sadly, this ancient word has been abused so much, and has been used against women very often.
    C*nt in other languages:

    Albanian: pidh, piçkë
    Czech: píca, kunda
    French: con; putain, salope; salaud, saligaud
    Dutch: kut; trut, muts; lul, eikel
    Finnish: vittu
    German: Fotze
    Italian: figa, fica; stronza; stronzo, bastardo
    Latin: cunnus
    Malaysian: puki
    Norwegian: fitte
    Polish: pizda, cipa, cipsko
    Portuguese: conas
    Romanian: pizda
    Russian: pizdá
    Scottish Gaelic: pit
    Slovak: pica
    Spanish: chocha, chucha, coño, concha, cuca, puta, cabrón, hijueputa, malparido,
    Swedish: fitta
    Turkish: am

    10.
    1) vulva/vagina
    Almost certainly a proper technical term for the female organ(s) – consider the number of similar-sounding terms in both Latin and Germanic languages. Became a taboo word simply because it related to both sex and femininity – but many prefer it, finding that other everyday terms like “pussy” just don’t have the right sound.

    2) stupid/contemptible person of either gender
    Only in America is this considered a specifically misogynistic insult. In Britain it is most likely to be heard amongst men quarelling.

    “I may have a c*nt, but don’t presume I am one.”

    11.

    A very ancient word first documented in the 13th Century with roots in Norsk languages. Used to describe the female genitalia in a derogatory manner. Or, more commonly, to insult someone with reference to a female genitalia. Linked directly to the degradation of the masculine by comparison to the feminine.

    In contemporary culture this is considered to be one of, if not the most offensive word in the English language.
    “You killed my Hamster you nasty C*nt!”

    12.

    Cunt
    1. A woman’s vagina.

    2. An evil person, usually but not strictly female.

    3. UK Slang for bankers or City of London professionals.

    4. Pronounced “caant” by UK southerners. Pronounced “coont” by UK notherners.

    “C*nt Fanny Coe Banker Vagina Evil Nasty”

    13.

    Noun – an offensive word used to decribe someone who is so utterly obnoxious no other word or phrase can accurately paint a mental picture of this person’s personality…or lack of it.

    A prime example of a c*nt is my depressingly poisonous ex-wife:

    Her personality is not disimilar to a combination of Bernard Manning, Roy Chubby Brown and Adolf Hitler after consuming copious amounts of acid and alcohol on a week-long bender. She is thick as pig shit, thinks she knows everything yet knows absolutely nothing, loud and oppressive both at home and in public, totally socially inept, bores the fuck out of everyone with her bigoted opininons, pisses off everyone she comes into contact with, loses any friend she makes or any job she gets, acts like a spoilt little brat, whinges about everything, is never happy, completely financially irresponsible, totally useless in every aspect of adult life, has a tantrum if she doesn’t get her way, she’s mentally unstable, gets horendously pissed and drives round to my house at 2am to scream the neigbourhood down, break into my house and beat me up, gets taken home by police TWICE (the first time accompanied by her large dog), throws knives and full pint glasses at me, smashes up the house, has no sense of self respect, a rude and obnoxious gobshite……i could go on and on indefinitely but rather than waste any more of my life on such a negative and malignant life sucking arsehole i simply refer to her…no..IT..with one simple word – C*nt. The only person in human existance ever to be worthy of such a nasty word.

    14.
    The ORIGINAL english word for a vagina.
    Stop being such a pussy… “c*nt” is one of the oldest and strongest words in our language.

    15.

    the juciest, most delicious part of a womans body. usually found between her smooth thighs. some people’s favourite thing to eat, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

    16.

    cunt
    Probably the best word in the english language. Can really shock people if used correctly
    “i smashed your nans c*nt on her death bed”

    17.

    A liar, bigot, 2 faced mass murderer…GEORGE.W.BUSH.
    something between a horny sluts legs.
    you hear about all those innoncent civilians bombed again? ya it was a direct order from George W Bush again, he said we’re winning the war on terrorism. He’s the biggest lying c*nt on the face of the earth.

    18.

    An extremely offensive and explicit word meaning ‘Politician’. The term is frequently used when members of the government take advantage of the public or make a general stupid decision.
    1. ‘MP’s have been stealing our money to pay for second homes!! What a pack of c*nts they are!’

    2. ‘Bush is invading another country? What a c*nt!’

    3. ‘Gordon Brown is a fucking c*nt!……he hasn’t done anything to offend me but in my opinion he looks rather like a c*nt.’

    19.
    something that english people shout when they are abroud, and dont like something.
    what do you mean you dont have chips? i came here on a plane you c*nt!!

    20.
    a 13th century polite word for the female genatalia & a 20th century in-polite word for a trafic warden.
    man. you have a lovely C*NT.
    woman, why thank you, its my best feature.

    Driver. oy you CUNT. whats this ticket for ya fucking arogant c*nt.

    Traffic warden, your parking meter is going to run out soon so I gave you a ticket because I get commision so fuck of driver…

    21.

    C*nt is a term used mainly in the UK by bo th men and women as a term for stupid or idiotic, often with the word “right” used as an adjective before it.
    Standing there in that hat I felt like a right c*nt.

    22.
    The female genitals. Once common parlance, the term has been considered impolite since the end of the 14th Century. Not recommended for use in front of the mother-in-law. Also extremely derogotive
    “You know, i always hated your mum, she was a right C*nt” As quoted from the Duke of Edinburgh to Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizebeth II in “Queenies Tales”

    23.
    A derogatory name for a person, male or female.
    He’s such a c*nt.
    She’s such a c*nt.

    24.

    1)A woman genetalia
    2)A person you despise
    3)A mate or random person
    1)Your c*nt is hot and I want to fuck it.
    2)Fuck off you c*nt
    3)Do any of you c*nts want a drink?

    25.
    One of the most used words in Scotland, it’s basically just used to describe people or you call someone a ‘c*nt’ when they are acting stupid
    “Awryt ya c*nt”

    “Wow you’re a stupid c*nt”

    “Rarely directed toward women” and “nothing to do with original meaning”, my ass.

    Now the question is: Are you going to try to continue to spin your pathetic, mewling, contrarian narrative, or are you going to finally call a spade a spade and admit that the term, as used, is sexist?

  86. Remster says

    @SallyStrange #588

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not concerned, or even pretending to be concerned, about muppets like you. But I would like my daugher and nieces and nephews to grow up in a world in which the pendulum hasn’t swung entirely towards being able to say anything whatsoever regardless of its effect on other people. I ended up here after being sent a link on Facebook, and how I’m thanking my lucky stars for that.

  87. anteprepro says

    Again, Remster is emphasizing this bullshit:

    You seem to understand it in such a way that an insult is sexist if it’s pejorative and gender specific. I understand it in such a way that an insult is sexist only if it’s pejorative because it’s gender specific (or, more accurately, because of the specific gender that it relates to).

    What is the distinction? How do you tell the difference between these two scenarios and why does it fucking matter?

    The last time I asked something about this asinine declaration of yours, your answer was:

    Possibly it tends to, but in this case we have another explanation for why ‘c*nt’ and ‘pr*ck’ are gender specific, and I hope it’s obvious: the vast majority of people have only one or the other, and in the vast majority of cases the divide is drawn along gender lines.

    Which clarifies nothing. We aren’t speculating that insults based on genitals were insulting epitaphs that later also became insulting terms for genitals. These words are both. They are genital based insults. The insult and the genitalia have been together for the longest time. If you cannot see sexism in that, you are being intentionally blind.

  88. says

    Remster, you’re done here. Repetitively obsessing over the same points that have been made by your oblivious fellows over and over again is tiresome. Stop now or find yourself banned. No more comments from you on this thread at all.

  89. Remster says

    @Tony! #589
    Sorry, I’d missed that amongst all the other posts. Will answer shortly.

  90. says

    No, you won’t. I’ll assume you missed my warning above, but you have no excuse now. NO MORE COMMENTS FROM YOU IN THIS THREAD.

  91. Remster says

    All right, this has all gone shitshape but at least now I can get some sleep, I suppose. Good luck in your campaign.

  92. anteprepro says

    Tony!

    Still wondering where the word derives its power to insult if it doesn’t relate specifically to women.

    I imagine that the only way this could happen is if the word is actually used so frequently that it no longer really means anything. It is just a generic, meaningless insult. Sure, it is still taken as an insult, but it is insult that just means “I insulted you” and doesn’t have any actual denotation or connotation any more. Sometimes it might not even mean anything insulting any more even. An example I can think of is “The N Word” in certain portions of the African American community. They deliberately use it frequently, excessively, and in contexts that almost absurd. They essentially make the word equivalent to “bro” or “dude” or “you”, something like a pronoun with very little actual meaning behind it. But history is a harsh mistress, and so is bigotry, so even that particular usage has yet to make the slur less of a slur when it is out of their hands.

    I believe the some parts of the gay community are trying to do something similar with “fag”, some women are trying to take back “bitch” while a much smaller number are trying to take back “c*nt”. I honestly have no idea whether it is a mission that will completely work, but I am not sure if it will hurt to try at least.

    Remster

    All right, this has all gone shitshape but at least now I can get some sleep, I suppose. Good luck in your campaign.

    This is like the internet equivalent to suicide by cop.

    Walking into the banhammer?
    Marinating yourself for the Kraken?

  93. anteprepro says

    Well, Remster willingly walked into that one. Which is rather telling. Just an obstinate contrarian. Good riddance.

  94. Christopher says

    Is ‘dumb’ far enough removed from its origins to not be considered an ableist insult or does it not matter because, unlike your average woman, a mute can’t speak up for themselves?

  95. procrastinatorordinaire says

    @Tony

    Here’s a typical usage of the word in UK English when applied to a male:

    I became an enforcer. The great thing about this is you don’t have to be good at football, especially at my level, you just had to be big, strong, and fucking angry. That’s why there’s a page on this blog dedicated to footballers who played the game with a bit of a face on them – in a bit of a strop. Not all of them big guys, not all of them useless either, but all of them renowned for being, well… c~nts. Actually, you get a bit of space if you’re a c~nt.

    Hard, strong, fucking angry, easily provoked, violent, someone who will fuck you over for their own benefit.

  96. Christopher says

    No, I’m serious. Idiot, imbecile, moron, and the like at least originally referred to people of diminished mental capacity so it makes sense that when you want to insult the intelligence of someone you’d whip out an old medical term for someone who isn’t playing with a full deck. But not being able to speak doesn’t in any way imply a lack of intelligence. Isn’t using dumb as a pejoritive more insulting to mutes than using c*nt is insulting to women?

  97. cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming) says

    PZ, I think you made a mistake here.

    It’s entirely within your rights to ban someone. But to retroactively change their nym seems unfair, and for anyone trying to follow the thread, confusing. Let them live with what they wrote under the name they used.

  98. throwaway says

    Isn’t using dumb as a pejoritive more insulting to mutes than using c*nt is insulting to women?

    I prefer “foolish” or “zany”. If you can find a mute person to acknowledge that they prefer no one use the term “dumb” to refer to other people due to the archaic and not at all modern application of the word to signify inability to speak, then please do so. As it stands, c*nt still has the association with womanhood and it likely always will. Your analogy is false, I bid you good day.

  99. cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming) says

    By way of example, if the admins at *that other place* chose to start changing commenters’ nyms?

  100. says

    procrastinatorordinaire:

    Hard, strong, fucking angry, easily provoked, violent, someone who will fuck you over for their own benefit.

    Thank you for providing an alternative meaning of the word.
    Wow.
    When used in this manner, the word loses its negative connotation to female genitalia, and takes on a positive association with cultural stereotypes about masculinity. That’s not a good thing. Reinforcing rigid gender stereotypes about men using the same word that dehumanizes women makes the continued use of the word *more* problematic. Not less.

  101. says

    Before I respond, I need to correct myself. My comment @612 should read:

    why are you referring to people with mental disabilities as ‘mutes’?

    christopher:

    Because I thought that was the currently accepted terminology for someone who can’t speak for whatever reason.

    My problem isn’t with the proper terminology. My problem is that you seem to think people with mental disabilities cannot speak.

  102. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    Lots of people saying “Why*?” and refusing to understand the answer, however it is phrased; it seems as if they are only able to put themselves in the place of the people using the word, and have a total empathy failure for the people overhearing the word.

    (*when asked not to use as an insult a word that is associated with an underprivileged group)

    The simplest answer I’ve heard for that is to ask the person how they would feel if they, personally, overheard someone using their real name as a slur?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Let’s suppose Remster/Dumbass’s real name is Joe (I doubt it very much, but perhaps, if they’re still reading, they can replace Joe with their own name).

    Everywhere, Joe overhears angry people saying horrible things to people they are arguing with, using ‘Joe’ as an insult: “Oh, I hate her; she’s a fucking Joe“; “Oi! You! Yes, you, you Joe! Get out of my sight, you sicken me!” “That evil politician on telly last night – he was a real Joe!”

    Joe” is the rudest word they can think of. How is Joe going to feel about that? Knowing that other people think that being Joe must be so horrible that the name is an insult?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Every young person I’ve said that to, or overheard someone else say that to, has suddenly got it. How they wouldn’t like it if it was something about them that was being used to insult someone else. Until then, they use words as weapons against a target without thinking of the effect on other people, innocent bystanders, of having something essential to them being used as a vicious slur.

    That is what ‘splash damage’ is. It is very often more hurtful to the bystanders than it is to the actual target of the insult. Why would any thoughtful person want to do that?

    How can we have equality, if gay people hear “That’s so gay” used, not as a compliment, but as an insult?

    If physically disabled people hear “That’s so lame” used disparagingly?

    If people with learning disabilities hear “You’re such a retard” used to humiliate?

    If people hear their race being used as a slur?

    If women hear “You cunt” as one of the worst words in the English Language?

  103. Christopher says

    My problem isn’t with the proper terminology. My problem is that you seem to think people with mental disabilities cannot speak.

    Where in the everlasting fuck did you get that?

    My whole problem with using the word ‘dumb’ is that it implies that mutes have mental imparement. I have made no claims of the inverse: that people with mental imparement are unable to speak, though that is also tacitly implied when using the word ‘dumb’ to insult someone’s intelligence.

  104. anteprepro says

    Tony!, you might have actually had a point if your complaint was about proper terminology.

    “Mute”

    1. Often Offensive One who is incapable of speech.

    Try here instead.

    General rule of thumb: A person is not their disability. You “have X”, you are not “an X”.

  105. anteprepro says

    Also, again, “c*nt” is THE worst swear word in American English. It is a present day, blatantly sexist slur. Conflating that with problematic yet archaic language related to disabilities is just comparing apples to oranges.

  106. Christopher says

    @ anteprepro

    Good to know.

    s/mute/speech impaired/g to my previous comments, and I’ll strive to drop it from my lexicon.

  107. Christopher says

    Also, again, “c*nt” is THE worst swear word in American English.

    Isn’t the whole source of this 600 odd comment thread the fact that in many dialects (including many American dialects), “c*nt” isn’t THE worst swear word but merely one of many vulgar terms with sexist connotations?

  108. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    Good rule of thumb, anteprepro, except when it comes to something which is an essential part of the person. Like autism – I’m autistic, not a ‘person with autism'; the autism cannot be separated from who I am – just as I am a white person, not a ‘person with melanin deficiency’.

    But I have a connective tissue disorder; I have cardiovascular disorders; I have auto-immunity; I have arthritis – and I would be bloody delighted to get rid of the lot! I would still be me.

  109. says

    anteprepro:
    christopher’s use of ‘mutes’ rubbed me the wrong way, but I couldn’t put a finger on it (which is why I didn’t comment on it).

    General rule of thumb: A person is not their disability. You “have X”, you are not “an X”

    This explains why.

  110. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    621, Christopher

    Isn’t the whole source of this 600 odd comment thread the fact that in many dialects (including many American dialects), “c*nt” isn’t THE worst swear word but merely one of many vulgar terms with sexist connotations?

    And there was I thinking that the thread had ballooned, not because the word is the worst swear word – but because it is the worst sexist swear word, and some people are arguing that it isn’t sexist!

    Oh, and I’m English, for what it’s worth.

  111. anteprepro says

    Quite frankly, Christopher, I didn’t actually know that “mute” was offensive until I checked. But, I suppose it makes sense. In a way, virtually any kind of thing that society views as a handicap, disability, “illness”, “disorder”, “disease”, etc. will be stigmatized by default. Not only is it considered abnormal, but actively inferior to “normal”. So whether the term is meant to be kind and sympathetic, objective and clinical, once it becomes part of common usage, it becomes a snarl word. It becomes a label, an insult, something that is used as a reference point or metaphor for anyone who falls near the wrong end of the bell curve and thus close enough to “X” for society’s liking. Oh, no, they would never be mean to a person with a disability! They will just mock people at the fringes for too much resembling those disabled persons!

    Which is why I think ableist language may be one of the most difficult areas to manage. Even if we do find words that are free from those connotations, they will be poisoned again. When it comes down to it, there is a fierce meritocratic desire to measure and judge everyone. And that desire requires terms and definitions. Whether it is a nice and gentle term, a cold and clinical one, or an outright slur, a word will be neede, and that word will be tainted due to the desire to judge those who “fail” on that measure. The way we think about other people, judging them, and determining their “worth” is going to need to fundamentally change in order for the language to stop being tainted. But, again, that is just my opinion, and even if I am right about this, I am not sure if ableism is truly unique in this regard.

  112. Christopher says

    Even then, I can think of one or two sexist swear words that make me recoil more than “c*nt”, but those tend to also be vagina related so I guess the point is moot.

  113. anteprepro says

    Tigger

    Good rule of thumb, anteprepro, except when it comes to something which is an essential part of the person. Like autism – I’m autistic, not a ‘person with autism’; the autism cannot be separated from who I am – just as I am a white person, not a ‘person with melanin deficiency’.

    Tigger, this is a good point. It might have to do with self-identifying. I think it is about 50/50 on “I am autistic” vs. “I have autism”, but I’m not sure.

    There are also things where there is little to no stigma, and a person can vary between the two freely without really committing to one form or the other (“I have diabetes” vs. “I am diabetic”).

    So, yeah, the rule of thumb is far from perfect! Simplicity rarely works out well.

  114. anteprepro says

    Christopher:

    Even then, I can think of one or two sexist swear words that make me recoil more than “c*nt”, but those tend to also be vagina related so I guess the point is moot.

    Huh. Where are you from again?

    Here in the northeastern U.S., the spectrum of swears goes:

    Ass-Damn-Hell-Bitch-Douche-Asshole-Prick-Tits-Piss-Fag-Shit-Cock-Fuck-Twat-C*nt-(Racial Slurs)

    I’m sure I have forgotten many, and the offensiveness of “bitch” to “fag” is hard to discern and probably debatable, but I am fairly confident that the extremes kind of accurately represent our attitudes.

  115. anteprepro says

    God, I have lost so many comments to the filter on this thread it is not even fucking funny.

  116. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    As anteprepro says, for as long as humans are hierarchical animals, some of them will police one another by actively discouraging them from veering too far from the ‘norm’. A large part of that discouragement will involve language. And as long as there are people who cannot help but be apart from the ‘norm’, any words used to describe us will be used as weapons against other people.

    And, of course, in a particularly nasty feedback loop, people to whom those words apply as a matter of course will be devalued by association with the slur-value of the descriptors.

    When a concerted effort was made to stop using any specific label on individual kids in school, and instead put them under the umbrella of ‘children with special needs’, the word ‘special’ became an insult!

    The thing is, the underprivileged don’t have the power, by definition, to change attitudes and language by ourselves. We need people who aren’t directly hurt by them to stand up with us and take our side instead of the side of the oppressors.

    I’m not saying that one word is oppressive by itself, of course not; but it is part of a pattern of self-reinforcing attitude-and-language that has to be broken somewhere in the cycle if we aren’t to perpetuate the discrimination into another generation. If that one word can be removed from the vocabulary of insults it will go a long way to changing how people think of one another.

  117. anteprepro says

    Tigger:

    When a concerted effort was made to stop using any specific label on individual kids in school, and instead put them under the umbrella of ‘children with special needs’, the word ‘special’ became an insult!

    The funny thing is I didn’t even think of that example, but that is a depressingly perfect example.

    I’m not saying that one word is oppressive by itself, of course not; but it is part of a pattern of self-reinforcing attitude-and-language that has to be broken somewhere in the cycle if we aren’t to perpetuate the discrimination into another generation. If that one word can be removed from the vocabulary of insults it will go a long way to changing how people think of one another.

    Wholeheartedly agree. Except…on the topic of ableism in general, it isn’t just one word. It is a lot. A fucking ton of words. Obviously, we should try our best anyway, but “ableism” is such a large umbrella, with such a wide variety of people suffering various stigmas and being degraded in such a wide variety of ways by such a wide variety of terms, that it will take effort. And even those with the best intentions will probably fail. That might make it even more important, not less, though.

  118. Suido says

    Wow. This thread just keeps on humming along. It’s been a less than a day, but I’m back to reply to Danny Butts back at 448, who quoted me and replied as follows:

    “Assuming you actually meant quantifies:
    5% of US voters, or approximately 10,000,000 people, would not vote for a generally well-qualified candidate who also happened to be a woman. And that’s just the ones who are honest about their bigotry.”

    And that’s *your problem*!

    So why are you language policing two countries, UK and Australia that have both managed to elect a woman prime minister?

    Because I’m Australian. Because I’m English. Because I have both passports and have lived in both countries. I lived in Australia under Gillard and I lived in England under Thatcher. I know that having elected a female prime minister doesn’t mean that a country is so post-sexist that the uses/meanings of c*nt are no longer sexist.

    The stat I used was easily available, and my cursory google searches don’t turn up similar polling data for Australia or England.

    Here’s a recent Australian example for you. When Gillard made her infamous sexism speech last year, the ensuing poll numbers were interesting.

    No change in women’s opinions.
    Major change in men’s opinions: 7 percent of male voters decided they didn’t like Labor any more.

    That’s a ridiculously large swing. Nearly a million men who had voted for Gillard in the previous election decided that she was no longer their preferred Prime Minister immediately after she made a speech about sexism in Australian society. All those poor hurt fee-fees stamping at once.

  119. twas brillig (stevem) says

    I did not know that one of the definitions of dumb was lacking the ability to speak.

    hence (as I was taught) the phrase “dumb animals” was never a reference to their intelligence, but that they can’t speak (as opposed to humans’ ability to speak). There are other “expressions” that include “dumb” as a synonym for “silent”, or “without words”, “no talking”, etc. Why the word became associated with lesser intelligence is a little extreme. Speaking language requires intelligence so less intelligence prevents speech? Dumb it down. (ie. silence)

  120. Suido says

    The argument from auditory brutality? You C*N’T be serious. That sentence is fine anywhere in the world. It might elicit a few giggles depending on your accent or diction, but no one will think you’re being vulgar because of the sound of the words.

    C*nt and f*ck have many almost-homonyms. I don’t see anyone using shuck, funt, stunt, can’t, cant instead, as they lack the vulgar meaning. The auditory effect of the word is negligible compared the meaning.

    Moist, on the other hand…

  121. Suido says

    twas brillig (stevem) # 632

    hence (as I was taught) the phrase “dumb animals” was never a reference to their intelligence, but that they can’t speak (as opposed to humans’ ability to speak).

    I suspect many people who grew up reading Narnia would have learned this lesson. If my memory serves, it was often used to differentiate normal animals from the speaking animals.

  122. chigau (違う) says

    cm #606
    I am almost certain that PZ does not have the power to change a commenter’s nym.

    But I have asked.

  123. throwaway says

    Christopher – the links you think were damning evidence were anything but. Note that the conjunction “and” in the term “deaf and dumb” is significant here for context. In the second facebook link you posted the original post was concerned also with the phrasing or when “dumb” is applied directly to the hearing impaired people as their label.

    Google harder broseph.

  124. Christopher says

    Christopher – the links you think were damning evidence were anything but. Note that the conjunction “and” in the term “deaf and dumb” is significant here for context. In the second facebook link you posted the original post was concerned also with the phrasing or when “dumb” is applied directly to the hearing impaired people as their label.

    So your assertion is that speech impaired and hearing impaired people are totally cool with the use of ‘dumb’ as a synonym for mentally challenged so long as you don’t use the specific phrase ‘deaf and dumb’?

    You are an insensitive asshole.

    Google harder broseph.

    fuck you.

  125. Maureen Brian says

    Is there a post-modernist amongst us? Someone who can explain how I gravely insulted old Remster?

    As far as I can see I asked him two questions @ 522, some time after that he was rude about me, for which he later apologised – generally, not to me. Yet he staggers away bowed under the weight of some horrible wrong that I have done him.

    Curious indeed.

  126. Gnumann+,not bloody bleeding Gnumann (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun) says

    @Maureen
    You asked him questions that require a certain degree of empathy to answer. And even worse, you asked him to reflect on the experiences of the other (in this case – you as a woman).

    All this of course was an undue distraction from his important message of “If there’s misogyny, then why “fuck”?”.

  127. opposablethumbs says

    Apologies for beating a dead horse, but I wanted to respond to this egregious, outright lie about me:

    Hmm, not so much. This is what opposablethumbs was referring to:

    [W]e seem to understand the term ‘sexist’ in different ways. You seem to understand it in such a way that an insult is sexist if it’s pejorative and gender specific. I understand it in such a way that an insult is sexist only if it’s pejorative because it’s gender specific (or, more accurately, because of the specific gender that it relates to). I understand other words of the same category (‘racist’, ‘disabilist’, etc.) in similar ways.

    Out-and-out barefaced lie. Very obvious lie. Has “lie” painted all over it in big letters. Somebody seems to have forgotten that we can just scroll up a bit and see exactly what I was referring to in my #558 because I fucking quoted exactly what I was referring to:

    558
    opposablethumbs [hush]​[hide comment]

    13 May 2014 at 5:00 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    partly because there are people like Maureen Brian watching, who’ve spent their whole lives in servitude to me and deserve a break.

    You can fuck right off, you miserable little piece of shit. I almost thought initially that you might have had half a point – thanks so much for clarifying that you’re 100% full of crap.

    Which you had in fact noticed, as you quote me in the correct context yourself in your #576. Sniggering and giggling at sexist discrimination – on a thread about sexism – is not exactly conducive to convincing anyone you’re arguing in good faith. Which is why I noted that you had kindly demonstrated for all to see that you are 100% full of crap.


    Tigger

    When a concerted effort was made to stop using any specific label on individual kids in school, and instead put them under the umbrella of ‘children with special needs’, the word ‘special’ became an insult!

    I remember we used to have an in-joke with our fellow-parents-of-kids-with-SEN at my kids’ school that we were the “élite” parents of the “élite” kids. But the situation itself was not so funny.

  128. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    531, Remster

    @azhael #520 (@Maureen Brian #522, @anteprepro #523, @Tony! #524)

    Tony has pre-empted me. I was about to say that we seem to understand the term ‘sexist’ in different ways. You seem to understand it in such a way that an insult is sexist if it’s pejorative and gender specific. I understand it in such a way that an insult is sexist only if it’s pejorative because it’s gender specific (or, more accurately, because of the specific gender that it relates to). I understand other words of the same category (‘racist’, ‘disabilist’, etc.) in similar ways.

    Now, I’m not going to fight over the word ‘sexist’, partly because I don’t believe in the ownership of words, and partly because there are people like Maureen Brian watching, who’ve spent their whole lives in servitude to me and deserve a break. But I would say that if we’re going to use the word as you understand it (and, for all I know, as everyone else here understands it), while I’ll accept that ‘c*nt’ is sexist, my objection to it will have nothing to do with this.

    This comment was baffling me before I went to bed, and isn’t making any more sense after a night’s sleep.

    Who knows what was going through Remster’s mind when he read Maureen Brian’s comment at 522? He appears to have decided that the comment was accusing him, personally, of perpetrating upon Maureen the sexism that all women go through as a matter of course, from the moment the words “It’s a girl!” are uttered.

    On top of that, I cannot understand what the effective difference is between:

    (1) “an insult is sexist if it’s pejorative and gender specific” and

    (2) “an insult is sexist only if it’s pejorative because it’s gender specific”

    and why he felt the difference is so important that he felt compelled to argue about that difference even though he objects to the word cunt anyway; because [unknown reasons, nothing to do with sexism].

    Come on, all ye brave knights who disagree that ‘cunt‘ is sexist –

    What is the effective difference, to a bystander of the referred race, between using a word as an insult that is ‘pejorative and race specific’ and a word that is ‘pejorative because it’s race specific’?

    Hmmm?

  129. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    opposablethumbs,

    Thanks for pointing out how full of it Remster was. Nasty piece of work, arguing semantics instead of the effect on society of such word usage, which is the actual topic of this thread.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    My experience of the ‘special needs’ umbrella was that it became impossible to get an appropriate ‘label’ for our dyslexic son once the education department was compelled by law to provide assistance – East Sussex pre-emptively decided that there was no such thing as ‘dyslexia’.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    640, Suido

    Although, unlike you, I only hold a British passport, I also lived in England under Thatcher and in Australia under Gillard. Both women (like a lot of career politicians) had their faults; but those faults were attributed to their sex in a way that male politicians’ faults are not. And, each having elected one woman to power, both countries seem to have decided that this not only absolves them of the responsibility to do anything else about the continuing sexism in their respective societies, but that the battle for equality is now won, and women should get back to the (pink) kitchen.

    I predict that the USA is going to do something similar: “You lot have had one of your own as President – see, we are post-racism!” and racism will get worse as a result.

  130. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    Something that surprised me about the election of Mr. Obama is that he isn’t (as far as I can tell) a poor, part-Asian, part-Mexican, disabled, lesbian trans* woman. Or a muslim.

    Once upon a time, I honestly thought that the USA would only elect a non-white-cis-male person as POTUS if they ticked all the boxes; and then for only one term at most. There would be a manufactured scandal and they’d be out on their ear.

    Then the wealthy, Christian, White, straight cis-male establishment would have spent the next few decades saying to all the underprivileged “You’ve had your turn, and you fucked up; now it’s ours again”.

  131. throwaway says

    Christopher @ 648

    So your assertion is that speech impaired and hearing impaired people are totally cool with the use of ‘dumb’ as a synonym for mentally challenged so long as you don’t use the specific phrase ‘deaf and dumb’?

    I don’t know where you got that I was asserting anything. I was stating that your links do not support your original contention that ‘dumb’ in modern parlance inveighs a specific group of people by its archaic association with the phrase “deaf and dumb”. ‘C*nt’, on the other hand, is still strongly associated with womanhood, and is still directed at women. It still maintains its negative association with a specific group. The two are not equal in that regard. Do you see the difference now?

    You are an insensitive asshole.

    Cool story, bro.

    fuck you.

    Temper, temper!

  132. Christopher says

    So all the facebook postings from members of the deaf community expressing their hatred of the word ‘dumb’ aren’t enough for you? The fact that ‘dumb’ has been primarily defined as being speech impaired from Aristotle to within living memory isn’t enough for you? The fact that equating speech impairment with low intelligence is the worst sort of insulting ableism isn’t enough for you?

    Are you waiting for a speech impaired person to come up to you personally and tell you that the word ‘dumb’ hurts before you recognize how insulting it is?

    Fuck you.

    (said with no temper or anger, just disdain and disgust)

  133. Christopher says

    This thread got me to look up the etymology of a bunch of curse words. These words have a staying power matched only by stalwarts like mother. If you went back in time to a period when only an unknown proto-indoeuropean language was being spoken, you probably couldn’t understand anything except cursing. Not only have these words survived the centuries, but they survived even under constant pressure to eliminate them from the language by tagging them as bad words that should never be spoken or written.

    I imagine that curse words will outlive our civilization. It is likely a fools errand to try to eliminate them from the language. The best we can hope for is redefinition in implied meaning and connotation like the LBGTQA community has done with ‘gay’ and ‘queer’.

  134. daniellavine says

    Remster@563:

    If this is the correct story – and I’m by no means accepting that it is –

    Feel free to offer a more compelling explanation for why a woman’s private parts are used as insults for men. It’s been clear all my life that this is exactly how “p*ssy” is used as an insult in the USA. We don’t really use “c*nt” or “tw*t” to describe men for the most part (though we do for women).

    why is it more insulting to call a man (or a woman) a ‘pr*ck’ than it is to call them a ‘tw*t’ or a ‘f*nny’? If you can show me how this fits with your story, I’ll have a closer look at it.

    Unless I am very much mistaken, I have already explained this in great detail. This is from my post at 546:

    So why is it more insulting to call a man a “c*nt” rather than a “pr*ck”? Because the word “pr*ck” is affirming the man’s masculinity rather than denigrating it. He’s being insulted for not being nice enough, but according to the sexist logic that gives these terms of abuse any power in the first place, it’s better to be manly than nice (which is a rather womanly thing to be anyway, amirite guys?).

    Emphasis added. It sort of seems like you didn’t read my comment very carefully given that your only question was answered at length in the comment itself. Perhaps you should have simply given it a closer look without needing to be spoon-fed.

  135. daniellavine says

    These words have a staying power matched only by stalwarts like mother.

    This particular usage of “c*nt” (as an epithet rather than just a noun) seems to date back to the 19th century.

  136. throwaway says

    Christopher @657

    Not only have these words survived the centuries, but they survived even under constant pressure to eliminate them from the language by tagging them as bad words that should never be spoken or written.

    So, what you’re saying is that you were manufacturing faux-outrage about the fact that your links didn’t agree with you and you had to then assign to me a stance I never took? I explained to you why your links didn’t support your contention that “dumb” is disparaging to hearing impaired people. The problem lies in our differing perception of what their conversation was about and that the most common agreement between them all was that you shouldn’t use “dumb” as an insult against hearing or speech impaired people, nor should you use the phrasing “deaf and dumb.”

    And you’re a laughable fool to keep assigning me the role of insensitive asshole due to your inability to grok context. You have no other recourse but to attack me personally because the trump cards you played didn’t work in your favor. That’s pretty shameful. Dumbass.

  137. Christopher says

    The problem lies in our differing perception of what their conversation was about and that the most common agreement between them all was that you shouldn’t use “dumb” as an insult against hearing or speech impaired people, nor should you use the phrasing “deaf and dumb.”

    So using ‘c*nt’ is fine so long as you don’t use it as an insult against females?

    You are an insensitive ass.

  138. azhael says

    @662 Christopher

    So using ‘c*nt’ is fine so long as you don’t use it as an insult against females?

    Yep. You can use it as a “vulgar” synonim of vulva all you like, but when you use it to insult someone, it’s sexist. By the way, it doesn’t matter if you direct the insult at a woman or a man, it’s still derogatory towards women in general.

  139. azhael says

    Better yet: “it doesn’t matter if you direct the insult at a woman or a man, it’s still an insult against females.”.

  140. throwaway says

    So using ‘c*nt’ is fine so long as you don’t use it as an insult against females?

    You are an insensitive ass.

    As I’ve already stated, your attempt to equate the words fails because we are past the point where “dumb” is an acceptable way to refer to those unable to use speech to communicate, whereas the meaning of the word “dumb”, starting in the early 19th century, but used even prior to that to refer to foolishness or lack of intelligence, was influenced by the modern German “dumm”, which means stupid, foolish, or silly. Nice try, dumb ass.

  141. Maureen Brian says

    Oh dear! Remster has discovered Ally Fogg’s blog piece on this topic. He appears not to have read the OP, which was pretty impressive, but to have latched on to the resident eccentrics there. Now he thinks it’s the promised land.

  142. chigau (違う) says

    Maureen Brian #666 (heh)
    So we succeeded in driving at least one Brit crazy.
    I note he rediscovered his nym.

  143. says

    Maureen: a lot of extremely angry clueless idiots are having the same experience. So despite Ally’s OPs being (mostly) sensible, he’s attracting a commentariat that can best be described as Slymepit Lite.

  144. Maureen Brian says

    That’s why I stay out of the comments at Ally’s place, not for any lack of respect for him. You can only watch for so long while people tie themselves in logical and linguistic knots. And for precisely what purpose is never clear.

  145. tcla75 . says

    Ww t mzs m hw mch mrcns r ttlly gnrnt f th wrld tsd th S nd ts blf tht t s th sprr cltr nd rgrdlss f wrds mnng n thr cntrs th nly mprtnt thng s wht th mnng s n th S nd tht mnng mst b mpsd n th rst f th wrld. Y fl t grsp tht wrds hv dffrnt mnngs bcs y trly blv mrcn cltr lds ll th nglsh spkng cntrs. Hr’s nws flsh fr y. tsd th S n n rlly crs bt y. W ll g bt r dly lvs wtht gvng y tht mch thght. nly n yr gnrnt twstd brnwshd hds d y thnk y r tht mprtnt. S n th mnng f wrd n th S s nt ncssrly th sm mnng n thr cntrs. thr cltrs ( nd ys thy d xst tsd th S ) grw p wth wrds tht hv dffrnt mnngs.

    Fnny fr tns f mllns f ppl = vgn nd s nvr spkn n plt cnvrstn n th Brtsh sls VR. t mns ss n th S. Try t gt ths thrgh yr wrld gnrnt, vrnfltd sns f mprtnc. Whn y try nd sy yr cltr s mr mprtnt thn thr cntrs. Tht th mnng f wrds y hv lrnt lvng lftm n cntry tht s ln t th rst f th wrld nd hd xprncs nd mnngs grwng p tht hv bn trly dffrnt t thrs n thr cntrs. Fr y t trn rnd nd sy. dn’t cr bt yr cltr nd hw dffrnt t s t mn. Mn th S cltr s th nly n knw s m mpsng my blfs n y rgrdlss. Yr cntry nd pbrngng nd th mnng f yr wrds r nt s mprtnt s th mnng f th wrds n my cntry.

    Y tht ds tnd t pss ff ppl f thr cltrs nd prbbly xplns why mrcns r s dspsd rnd th wrld.
    Brtsh nglsh mrcn nglsh
    ccmmdtn ccmmdtns
    ctn rply nstnt rply
    rfl rfl
    rpln rpln
    gny nt dvc clmnst
    lln ky lln wrnch
    lmnm lmnm
    nsd ns
    ntclckws cntrclckws
    rtcltd lrry trctr-trlr
    symmtrc brs nvn brs
    brgn ggplnt
    bkng try ck sht
    bnk hldy lgl hldy
    btrt bt(s)
    bll chck
    bsct ck; crckr
    blck cnmy ndrgrnd cnmy
    blnkt bth spng bth
    blnd (wndw) shd
    blck f flts prtmnt bldng
    blr st cvrlls
    bnnt (f cr) hd
    bb tb tb tp
    bt (f cr) trnk
    bttm drwr hp chst
    bwls lwn bwlng
    brcs sspndrs
    brwn (th fd) hdchs
    brkdwn vn tw trck
    brz blck cndr blck
    brdgng ln brdg ln
    bmbg fnny pck
    cndyflss cttn cndy
    cr prk prkng lt
    cslty mrgncy rm
    ctplt slngsht
    cntrl rsrvtn mdn strp
    chmst drgstr
    chps Frnch frs
    cnm mv thtr; th mvs
    clng flm plstc wrp
    cmmn sl hrbr sl
    cnsmr drbls drbl gds
    crnflr crnstrch
    cs (lttc) Rmn
    ct crb
    ct dth crb dth
    cttn bd cttn swb
    cttn wl bsrbnt cttn
    cncl stt (hsng) prjct
    crgtt zcchn
    crt crd fc crd
    crsh brrr grdrl
    crsps chps; ptt chps
    crcdl clp llgtr clp
    crss-ply bs-ply
    crtcht (msc) qrtr nt
    crrnt ccnt chckng ccnt
    dngr mny hzrd py
    dmstr (n cr) dfrstr
    dllng tn dl tn
    dmnt rhnstn
    dbl crm hvy crm
    drghts (gm) chckrs
    drwng pn thmbtck
    drssng gwn rb; bthrb
    drnk-drvng drnk drvng
    drnks cpbrd lqr cbnt
    drnks prty ccktl prty
    drvng lcnc drvr’s lcns
    dl crrgwy dvdd hghwy
    dmmy (fr bby) pcfr
    dst sht drp clth
    dstbn grbg cn
    rth (lctrcl) grnd
    nggd (f phn) bsy
    stt gnt rl stt gnt, rltr (trdmrk)
    stt cr sttn wgn
    x-drctry nlstd
    fth schl prchl schl
    fnncl yr fscl yr
    fr brgd/srvc fr cmpny/dprtmnt
    frst flr scnd flr
    fsh fngr fsh stck
    fttd crpt wll-t-wll crptng
    flnnl wshclth
    flt prtmnt
    flxtm flxtm
    flck knf swtchbld
    flyvr vrpss
    ftbll sccr
    ftwy sdwlk
    frng (hr) bngs
    fll brd (n htls) mrcn pln
    fll stp (pncttn) prd
    grdn yrd; lwn
    grng (fnnc) lvrg
    gr lvr grshft
    gds trn frght trn
    grsprf ppr wx ppr/wxd ppr
    grn fngrs grn thmb
    grll (nn) brlr
    grll (vrb) brl
    grnd flr frst flr
    grndsmn grndskpr
    hrsld brrtt
    htstnd htrck
    hn nght bchlrtt prty
    hr prchs nstllmnt pln
    hrdng bllbrd
    hb stvtp
    hldll crryll
    hldy vctn
    hldymkr vctnr
    hmly hmy
    hspp (grdn) hs
    n hsptl n th hsptl
    ht flsh ht flsh
    hsng stt hsng dvlpmnt
    hndrds nd thsnds sprnkls (fr c crm)
    c llly Ppscl (trdmrk)
    cng sgr cnfctnrs’ sgr
    ndctr (n cr) trn sgnl
    nsd lg nsm
    jlly bbs jlly bns
    J Blggs J Blw
    J Pblc Jhn Q. Pblc
    jmbl sl rmmg sl
    jmp ld jmpr cbl
    jmpr swtr
    jnr schl lmntry schl
    knnl dghs
    ldybrd ldybg
    lttc hd f lttc
    lvl crssng grd crssng
    lft lvtr
    llly Ppscl (trdmrk)
    lllpp ldy (r mn) crssng grd
    l (tlt) jhn
    ls cvr slpcvr
    lrry trck
    ldhlr bllhrn
    lw ldr fltbd trck
    lcky dp grb bg
    lggg vn bggg cr
    mz crn
    mngtt snw p
    mrkt grdn trck frm
    mrshllng yrd rlrd yrd
    mths mth
    mtlld rd pvd rd
    mlmtr dmtr
    mnm (msc) hlf nt
    mbl phn cll phn
    mnky trcks mnkyshns
    mtrwy xprsswy; hghwy
    mm/mmmy mm/mmmy
    nppy dpr
    ndlcrd pnwl
    nwsrdr nwscstr
    nghts nd crsss tc-tc-t
    nmbr plt lcns plt
    ff-lcnc lqr str; pckg str
    pncst mnng pn-pt mnng
    rdnry shr cmmn stck
    vn glv vn mtt
    pddlng pl wdng pl
    prctml ctmnphn
    prtng (n hr) prt
    ptnc sltr
    pvmnt sdwlk
    py pckt py nvlp
    pdstrn crssng crsswlk
    pg clthspn
    plmt vlnc
    ptrl gs; gsln
    physthrpy physcl thrpy
    pnfr drss jmpr
    pln chclt drk chclt
    pln flr ll-prps flr
    pl nck trtlnck
    pstv dscrmntn rvrs dscrmntn
    pstl vt bsnt bllt
    pstbx mlbx
    pstcd zp cd
    ptt crsp ptt chp
    pwr pnt lctrcl tlt
    prm bby crrg; strllr
    prss std snp
    prss-p pshp
    prvt sldr G
    pblc schl prvt schl
    pblc trnsprt pblc trnsprttn
    pnchbg pnchng bg
    pshchr strllr
    pyln tlty pl
    qntty srvyr stmtr
    qvr (msc) ghth nt
    q ln
    rcng cr rc cr
    rlwy rlrd
    rl tnns crt tnns
    rcrdd dlvry crtfd ml
    rgstrtn plt lcns plt
    rmld (tyr) rtrd
    rvrs th chrgs cll cllct
    rvrsng lghts bck-p lghts
    rght-ngld trngl rght trngl
    rng rd bltwy
    rm nly rpn pln
    rndbt (t fr) crsl
    rndbt (n rd) trffc crcl
    rwng bt rwbt
    slng bt slbt
    sln (cr) sdn
    sndpt sndbx
    sndwch ck lyr ck
    sntry twl sntry npkn
    slf-rsng flr slf-rsng flr
    smbrv (msc) whl nt
    smtn (msc) hlf stp
    shr ptn stck ptn
    shppng trlly shppng crt
    shw hs/hm mdl hm
    slncr (n cr) mfflr
    slvrsd rmp rst
    skltn n th cpbrd skltn n th clst
    skmmd mlk skm mlk
    skppng rp jmp rp
    skrtng brd bsbrd
    sldg sld
    slpr rlrd t
    slpng prtnr slnt prtnr
    slwcch slwpk
    snks nd lddrs chts nd lddrs
    slctr lwyr
    sy/sy bn sy/sybn
    splshbck bcksplsh
    sprng nn grn nn
    stg nght bchlr prty
    Stnly knf tlty knf
    strtr pptzr
    stt schl pblc schl
    strm n tcp tmpst n tpt
    srttl sprttl
    swd rtbg
    swt(s) cndy
    tkwy (fd) tkt; t g
    tx rnk tx stnd
    t twl dsh twl
    trrc hs rw hs
    tck chck mrk
    tckt tt sclpr
    tghts pntyhs
    tmbr lmbr
    ttbt tdbt
    tff ppl cndy ppl
    tch wd knck n wd
    trd nn lbr nn
    trdng stt ndstrl prk
    trnrs snkrs
    trm strtcr; cbl cr
    trnsprt cf trck stp
    trlly shppng crt
    twlv-br twlv-gg
    nlk nlk
    ndrgrnd sbwy
    vcm flsk thrms bttl
    vrg (f rd) shldr
    vst ndrshrt
    vtrnry srgn vtrnrn
    wgn (n trn) cr
    wstct vst
    wlkng frm wlkr
    wrdrb clst
    wtr c tln c
    wthrbrd clpbrd
    wht cff cff wth crm
    wht sprt mnrl sprts
    whlml brd whlwht brd
    wndchtr wndbrkr
    wndscrn wndshld
    wng (f cr) fndr
    wrktp cntrtp
    Yl lck cylndr lck
    zbr crssng crsswlk
    zd (lttr Z) z
    zp zppr

    [Dumb as Thunderf00t. Bye.]

  146. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    It’s almost as if a 669 comment long discussion hadn’t already taken place before tcla75 helicoptered in and explained…whatever he thinks he’s explaining…

  147. Rowan vet-tech says

    Your country and upbringing and the meaning of your words are not as important as the meaning of the words in my country. “

    For someone who doesn’t care about us in the USA, you sure do care a lot about us. Funny that.

    Pedantic me: Sometimes American slang makes more sense than British slang. :D

    Sponge bath makes more sense for example; are you bathing yourself with an entire blanket, or a sponge?

    A hope chest is a very specific piece of furniture. The hope chest can be used to collect any number of things aside from simply linens. Bottom drawer can refer to the bottom most of a set of drawers, potentially causing confusion.

    Tow trucks are actual trucks, not vans.

    Why would you call an overpass a ‘flyover’? You’re not flying over the other people, you’re passing over them.

    Mobile and cell are used interchangeably here.

    If you’re going to whine about word changes (and us using a full word instead of a shortened one for once, geez) at least go with public transit instead of public transportation.

    Queue is used pretty often here as well, thanks in part to gaming, though typically as a verb. In fact, I am currently queued up for a raid in WoW as I’m typing this.

    We also use takeout… and carryout, just to piss you off further.

    And we use tights.

    Not all veterinarians perform surgery, though admittedly most do. I’ve known several vets, and in fact worked for one, who are just not comfortable doing surgery and avoid it.

  148. cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming) says

    aubergine eggplant

    Rocket arugula!

    That copypasta missed hood/bonnet, trunk/boot, petrol/gas, and other obvious trans-atlantic divergences.

    You also failed to make a meaningful point.

    (Don’t even get me started on “scallions”.)

  149. says

    It seems if for some reason, you ever wanted to be a sexist or a misogynist, it’s never been easier. The entry requirements for this particular club have been dumbed down so massively that you don’t even need to have sexist or misogynist opinions. Even if you have a proven track record of campaigning for women’s rights, you can still find some way or other of getting in.

    Like pointing out that words mean different things, and have different connotations in different cultures – in the North of England, we’d quite happily say (regardless of our gender) “Oreyt then ya bunch of cunts – we going out or what?” to a group of mates, whether said mates are male or female, before gathering the troops for a night out getting smashed. People here don’t view it the same way it’s viewed in America, and we aren’t about to do so just because some people across the pond see it as a sexist insult. It’s not that far removed to the manner in which Australian people use it, and see it.

    Words have different levels of offense in different cultures. For the past year, I’ve been living in Thailand – and whilst in the West, calling someone uneducated or lacking manners is pretty mild. Not so here – the worst thing you can call someone here in Chiang Mai is “Kwai” – meaning “Buffalo”, implying the recipient is slow, stupid and completely without social graces. Similar to the Japanese “Bakayaro” (a portmanteau of the words for “Idiot” and “brute”.

    And I don’t really think you get to complain about people being offensive, when you begin an article with “How to drive a Brit crazy” and say that we use it because we’re “too stupid” to remember that it really means the female privy parts. The most striking thing about all this is, you genuinely seem to think, by posting this kind of entry, you are being liberal and progressive – while coming across as the exact opposite.