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mygif

I actually said “grife” in frustration at work once. Weird, since I don’t read a lot of Legion and “gorram” is my made-up-swear-of-choice.

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mygif

Usually after marathon Battlestar Galactica sessions I’ll be saying “frak” for a few days.

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mygif

Shock that pigt!

That last video clip you posted about cellphone obscenities should have told you that it isn’t the word that makes it vulgar, its the context in which its used. How many people use the middle finger without knowing its militaristic history? The finger was used a gesture by either the French (or the English, I’m not 100%) because the opposing side would cut off the middle fingers of the survivors of a battle to keep them from using them to pull back the drawstrings on their crossbows (the most devastating weapon of the time). Use of the of middle finger showed the opposition that they still had theirs intact.

Its not exactly the same context that is used today.

Also, if its because you feel that new obscenities are not created on a regular basis, then what about the latest surge of vulgarities that have come about through the use of cell phone text messaging like “STFU” or “phukk”, the latter of which people use to avoid automatic censors on message boards. Language doesn’t evolve with just the social or literary advances of its people, but also with the technology. Look at how technology has progressed in the past 100 years, let alone the last 1000. Now add another 1000 years and guess how language has been affected with the installation of space travel and the space sailors that probably haven’t stopped swearing nearly as much as they are suggested to do today.

Who knows, maybe the wave of neo-vulgarities are an inside joke perpetuated by some shadow historical cult that does it to screw with people’s heads or keep them away from really important things. What better way to keep rational, sophisticated and mature people away from something of vital importance than to label it in 8-yr old potty talk?

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mygif

I’m fairly sure that middle finger thing is a myth, but maybe im thinking of the whole Agincourt index and middle finger thing.

Feth is my made up swearword of choice. Florg dosen’t even sound like a word.

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mygif

STFU and phukk aren’t new. They’re still fuck (STFU still has the goddamned ‘F’, for crying out loud), and it’s dismaying that you’d try to assert they’re anything but.

I’m with you, MGK. There’s a place for made up words and nonsense, and that place is firmly in technobabble. We don’t need “frack,” or “frell” like we need “nanoscopic berrelium quasitronic inhibitrons.” The former is like when, on a long car ride, you tell your stupid kid brother to stop poking you, so he gets the wise idea to poke you with a pen or a book or something, and you can just see the immature, idiotic gleam in his eye that he thinks he’s being so witty when he says, “I wasn’t poking you, the [something] was!” The latter is pure sci-fi bliss.

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mygif

The good people at Snopes say the middle finger Agincourt story has no basis.
http://www.snopes.com/language/apocryph/pluckyew.asp

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mygif

As an alternative, I’d suggest Ellis’ use the the four skull-and-crossbones from Nextwave. Much like wank material that doesn’t want to be called on being wank material, it leaves the most delightful bits up to the reader’s imagination.

Also…. you can have my ‘gorram’ when you pry it from my cold, dead lips.

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mygif
Anonymoose said on January 28th, 2008 at 2:12 pm

I always liked the invented cursing in Judge Dredd. Drokk!

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mygif
AltWorlder said on January 28th, 2008 at 2:16 pm

Freck it, MGK, this rutting excuse for a gou-si post isn’t wizard at all. Stab your eyes!

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mygif

The Chinese swearing in Firefly used to piss me off for the same reason: the explanations for all the Chinese cultural stuff in the series made no sense anyway, especially in the absence of any Chinese people anywhere (except that one woman in that brothel that one time), but it was especially stupid to have people speaking English for everything except swearwords.

I have a deep, profound hankering to write a Northstar ongoing series, if for no other reason than that it would actually make perfect sense for him to swear in a way that’s totally incomprehensible to other people. Saint Crisse d’ostie!

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mygif

Andrew,

STFU and Phukk are most certainly new. The former came about in the past 20 years and the latter in the last 10. Their origins are entirely irrelevant. All that matters is the context – or did you entirely ignore that video clip about text messaging swearing too? It was only posted two days ago.

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mygif

In Tanya Huff’s “Valor” series, the future marines are made up of humans and a couple of other species; the humans came first. “Fuk” is the most common obscenity, but a couple of the other species’ cusses have made it into common usage.* It reads effectively, like something someone would actually say. That verisimilitude is why “frak”, “grife”, and Scrubs’ “frigg” work, because we can hear people saying them, and we can imagine using them ourselves.

*My favorite is “serley”, meaning “inedible”, adopted from a species which is arboreal, gnomish, and darn close to Matter-Eater Lad in eating capability.

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mygif

Sorry, erred; Eliot on Scrubs uses “frick”.

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mygif

Alex P,

I took the information from R Lee Ermey from Mailcall. But Wikipedia confirms that the finger gesture predates the phrase “fuck you” by about 1200 years, in which case, it was being used as a general insult outside of the modern context for all that time.

So were the Romans wrong to use the middle finger outside of the modern context, or is my original point about the evolution of language and vulgarity still valid?

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mygif

I still have a soft spot in my heart for “frak” but I will agree re: LSH, if only because, like you mentioned, the faux-swearing was ushered in with v4, and I seriously have no end of loathing for that run, but that’s a whole other issue.

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mygif

I thought the middle finger thing came from its historical use as the butt-wiper finger after #2 in ancient Rome? And was an insult in ancient Rome for that reason. I haven’t ever checked if this was true, but I remember reading it in a palm-reading book or something similar in middle school.

Finger trivia!! I know that traditionally, since the ring finger can’t stand up on its own, it was considered the “cleanest” finger, and used for stirring medicines, applying salves, etc. It became used as the “ring finger” because it was thought that there was a blood vessel in that finger that went straight to the heart. Pinkies were always used for earwax, though. Because they just fit.

Back on topic: I agree wholeheartedly about the fake curse words. Like… word for word. They irritate me if I’m reading something and they come up, and make BSG more unwatchable for me. It comes off as patronizing, because I guess I just can’t handle “real” curse words, now? I know it’s a publisher censorship thing, but it’s not cute, or clever.

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mygif
Eric TF Bat said on January 28th, 2008 at 7:01 pm

Now, I like “grife” and “bloody nass” and all the other LSH v4 stuff, because I think the post-five-year-gap stuff was the best era of the Legion by several orders of magnitude, at least until it got railroaded by Zero Hour (Cosmic Boy was the Time Trapper? Phase was Phantom Girl’s sister? Oh yeah, that makes sense). Yeah, I know I’m in the minority. But what the hell.

I also liked the Chinese swearing in Firefly. It did make sense. All you need is a puritan society (check out the costumes on the various Zap Brannigans in the Alliance Space Corps or whatever they were called) and it makes good sense that people would obfuscate their expletives using the polite fiction of a “foreign” language (that everyone understands anyway; hence “fiction”).

But as for comics, the best handling of this topic was in the Milestone comics, one of the best products of the 1990s. The characters were gang bangers, white trash, brown trash, beige trash and probably even blue furry trash. They were not polite. They swore a lot. And the swearing was rendered with little angry scribbles within the text. No asterisks, no little skulls-and-crossbones, no f___ing and m_____f___er, just a very well-done indicator that you can fill in the blanks here and you don’t need to use much imagination. Very effective.

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mygif
Eric TF Bat said on January 28th, 2008 at 7:04 pm

Oh, and on the topic of BSG and frak: they use a smattering of non-English words. Our “radar” is their “dradis” (direction, range and distance), “radio” is “wireless” (an archaism here; my great grandparents would talk about hearing a song on the wireless, and for years I thought it was just the name, “whialiss” maybe, not a description of the technology), and “fuck” is “frak”. It doesn’t jar for me because it’s part of the larger whole.

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mygif

I also liked the Chinese swearing in Firefly. It did make sense. All you need is a puritan society

Whoa whoa whoa. A society where prostitution is legal, open and respectable is puritan now? Does not compute.

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mygif
Evil Midnight Lurker said on January 28th, 2008 at 8:30 pm

It’s worth noting that in the Giffbaum era, “grife” and “nass” and whatnot were used almost exclusively by the nonhuman characters. It was something of a clue, for example, that a human saying “nass” was really a Durlan.

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mygif

Yeah, well Battlestar Galactica is smegging worthless, so let’s not hold that up as an example of good scripting.

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mygif

“gorram” drives me nuts, personally. on the other hand, i love “shiny.” or maybe i just have a thing for kaylee.

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mygif

There’s a little more justification for the “Chinese” thing in ‘Firefly’ than comes across on-screen; it’s never mentioned in the series directly, but the Alliance is the Sino-American Alliance. The intent of the series is that Chinese and English are the two main languages of the human race in that period, and are used interchangeably, but simply as a concession to intelligibility, they decided to only use Chinese when the intent of the speaker could be clearly determined even without understanding the language. :)

(It’s worth picking up the script books to find out exactly what they’re saying, BTW; it’s not just standard “fuck”, “shit” “piss. It’s fluent, inventive insults like, “Sweet barbecued Crap!” and “Holy Mother of Heaven and all her happy infants!”)

But yes, the more serious and intense a situation, the more it bugs me that someone isn’t really swearing. I noticed it most in ‘Serenity’, right after Book dies. Mal uses a swear like “bungers” or something similar, and it totally took me out of the story. It should have just been, “bastards”, because it’s an emotionally wrenching time when swearing is forgiveable. (Which is why I think people don’t complain about the use of the word “bitch” in Harry Potter. Because every parent who reads that scene thinks, “I’d say, ‘Stay away from my daughter, you bitch!’ in that situation, too!”)

And Tommy used “frigging” and “motherloving”. Nat didn’t swear at all. He’d promised his mom he wouldn’t. :)

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mygif

Everyone’s forgetting the best made-up swear of all – “Smeg” from Red Dwarf. As versatile as Fuck AND Shit, and sails straight by the censors.

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mygif

Everyone’s forgetting the best made-up swear of all – “Smeg” from Red Dwarf.

Well, since “smegma” is sort-of obscenely biological, I never really considered it a made-up swear so much as an obfuscated one. See also The Books of Magic, where John Constantine says, “Felching heck!”

And, um, I’m not going to bother to Google around for the info while at work, but the whole middle finger bit has had its current meaning for a really, really long time. I mean, come on, it’s a ridiculously obvious phallic symbol. You think our benighted ancestors weren’t able to figure that out? They were good at things like that.

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mygif

Shooter loved the future-cussing in his Magnus, Robot Fighter days, too. In his defense, I think he inherited the main faux-curse, “flooje,” from the original Russ Manning series. (Not sure — it’s been a while, kids.) On the other hand, nobody forced him to use it six times an issue. “This floojing robot is floojed!” Irritating as all-git-out.

A bit of brilliant comic non-swearing came in the beloved series Quantum and Woody. Christopher Priest wanted to write a story about racism. His editors wouldn’t let him use a common offensive epithet, despite its centrality to the story. Thus, the issue began with Q&W directly addressing the reader, explaining that they can’t use the proper word, so they will use the ridiculous substitution of “noogie.” The forced substitution made the story work a little better than intended.

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mygif

Maybe the Interlac curses not being tranlated is the future version of bleeping something. Just stop the translation for the length of the word and start up again?

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mygif

The problem, I think, is any word is going to look like a swear substitute if it’s meant to be a Future!swear, because we already use fuck or shit (or what have you) in every variation possible of swearing – there’s not really a way to phrase things that fuck or shit (or what have you) wouldn’t fit just as well

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