Rounding up some remarks on some profane presidential remarks

From the New York Times (strong language ahead):

President Trump on Thursday balked at an immigration deal that would include protections for people from Haiti and some nations in Africa, demanding to know at a White House meeting why he should accept immigrants from “shithole countries” rather than from places like Norway, according to people with direct knowledge of the conversation.

It’s remarkable, this “shithole” remark—and no, I don’t just mean the racist xenophobia lurking in President Trump’s language, not to mention its utter ignorance of international affairs and an abject dearth of humanitarianism. 

On the Strong Language blog, Merriam-Webster’s Kory Stamper explains why newspapers printing shithole, as their editorial policies have been variously averse to do, is such a boon to lexicographers:

So when the word “shithole” shows up above the fold in the news section of a newspaper, that tells me, as a lexicographer, that this word is not just the province of BuzzFeed or Twitter or pulp fiction, but might actually be (shitty, shitty) Wonder Bread.

The “Wonder Bread” here, in Stamper’s apt metaphor, is an earlier reference to a word as “boring and everywhere…remarkable only because it is wholly unremarkable[.]”

Continue reading “Rounding up some remarks on some profane presidential remarks”

Flying, flap-eared pigs?

I wanted to point you to some other pieces I have around the web. You’re forewarned: Some strong language lies ahead.

A few weeks back, I had a post on the OxfordWords blog: Pigdoghog, and other etymologies from the farm.” As I note:

We’ve left the farm and have wandered into the woods to discover where some very basic and common animal words came from – fundamental words like dog and pig, which number among some of the first children learn to read, even say.

We just don’t really know where this group of everyday words comes from, which is nothing short of fascinating.

I also have two pieces up on Strong Language. The first is “When fucks fly.” In this post, I ask the big questions: “What exactly is a flying fuck? And why does this fuck fly?”

Today, I published a piece that grew out of my new project, Shakespeare Confidential. This piece, “Great Moments in Swearing: The Taming of the Shrew,” gives you, you flap-eared knave, some sweary tips:

So, if you’re looking for some choice words, take a page from Petruccio’s playbook: Add some color, er, choler. Just avoid this whole “taming” and “shrew” business.

Stay tuned for more etymology and, if you’re following Shakespeare Confidential, my post on The Taming of the Shrew.

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Strong language, strong numbers

Be advised: There’s some swearing ahead.

In spite of being all about zero, I think my latest post on Strong Language has it all: linguistics, mathematics, politics, sociology, media and cultural studies. I can’t even keep count. Good thing  we have the Count.

The Count gives zero fucks. Image from Quickmeme.

But you should ignore him. Give a fuck and head on over to Strong Language for my piece, “Something from nothing: A zero-fucks game.” It takes a brief look into an interesting sweary construction I’ve observed, zero-fucks-X.

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Oh, hell!

Up on the Strong Language blog, I have new post on the many uses–er, circles–of hell, from hell yes! to hell-to-the-no. Noun, verb, intensifier, prefix? Hell hath a lot of linguistic fury in the English language. Readers here may be particularly hellbent on the etymology of hell:

In Norse mythology, Hel is Loki’s daughter and goddess of the underworld, which is one way to raise Hel, I suppose. Her name is indeed a cognate of English’s own hell, whose Old English source, hell, comes from the Proto-Germanic *haljo (“the underworld,” literally “the concealed place”). Descending further into the origins of hell, some etymologists believe *haljo hails from the Proto-Indo-European *kel-, “to conceal” or “to cover.” English sees this same root in the very unhellish hall, hull, and cell, as well as that very conceal, to name a few hellions.

Read more from “Nine circles of hell.” 

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“big goddamn” cross-post edition

"Big goddamn car." Doodle by me.
“Big goddamn car.” Doodle by me.

Be sure to keep up with Strong Language, the sweary blog about swearing. There have some incredible new posts lately on all things profane, vulgar–and linguistic. In “So many mother _uckers,” Nancy Friedman looked into sweary soundalikes in name branding while Steve Chrisomalis investigated the rise of the phrase four-letter wordto name a few.

In need of a tonic after Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall StreetI recently wrote on Robert Creeley’s artful swearing in his iconic poem, “I Know a Man.” This post, I’m excited and humbled to announce, is the inaugural cross-post of Strong Language at Slate’s excellent language blog, Lexicon Valley. Read it here at Slate.

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Strong Language

“What the…?” Doodle by me.

I’m extremely excited to share Strong Language, a new “sweary blog about swearing” masterminded and managed by James Harbeck (@sesquiotic) and Stan Carey (@stancarey). (Those two are tops; you should be following their work in its own right, to be sure.) Follow the project on Twitter, too: @stronglang.

Strong Language has assembled an impressive and growing cast of contributors, from the indefatigable Ben Zimmer to the illustrious Jonathon Green. I’m really honored to be among them, and I’ve already posted on the etymology of bastard.

Don’t hold your breath or bite your tongue: vulgarities and profanities—and some really insightful and intelligent linguistic commentary from some of the best language writers around—are a click away. Stan Carey’s latest post will fill you right in.

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