Saturday, August 30, 2008

Such Language!

One of the many things that impressed me about Charles' blooper reel (below) was the plethora of salty terms employed to express frustration.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't disapprove, unless Charles intends to run for Pope someday.

(Incidentally, when he was in his thirties, my husband informed me that forevermore he was going to be perfect in all things, but after a week he realized that he couldn't stop getting smelly feet after a run, so he gave up his quest for sainthood.  But that's another story.) 

I've been known to use less than pristine epithets myself and find them extremely useful in times of stress.  In fact, the blooper reel brought to mind a dear friend of mine who I have known since my salad days at the University of Oklahoma.  At the time, he was an extraordinarily innocent boy who on frequent occasions would curl your ears with the most astoundingly filthy curses known to man.  Because of his sweet face and gentle nature, the effect of this language was much less shocking than it was hilarious, and ever since, for good or ill,  I've had quite an affection for dirty words.

I grew up among people whose goal was to curse in the most imaginative language possible, which can really increase your vocabulary if you apply yourself.  My mother was particularly good at coming up with ways to express disapproval using only G-rated words.  One of her scariest curses was "I heap coals of fire upon him."  The words themselves weren't as frightening as her throaty growl and the curl of her lip over her eyetooth.  My father had been a Marine, and knew words that I don't understand to this day, but he had a house full of little daughters and controlled his language heroically.  He often had the pee-waddin' scared out of him and wondered what in the cat-hair was going on.

When I grew up and became an English major, I came to realize that this fashion of cursing is quite Shakespearian.  Shakespeare manipulated the English language in such a joyously profane way to scorn his fellow man.  There are actually several web sites devoted to Shakespearean curses.  One of my favorites is http://czarism.com/flame/shakespearean.  The author, Derek Peterman, has created a page on which he has taken nouns and adjectives from Shakespearian curses and divided them into three columns.  You take one from column A, one from column B, and one from column C, and "curse with the the best of Shakespeare."  Examples follow:

Fie, you bawdy, dog-hearted malignancy!
        you rank, onion-eyed rudesby!
        you whoreson, fat-kidneyed pantaloon!
        you knarling, rump-fed moldwarp!

Have a nice day just doesn't have the same ring.


1 comment:

Debby (Deborah Turrell) Atkinson said...

MOLDWARP! I like that one!