The poetics of expletive clickbait

Expletive infixing is a much-loved mode of profanity. Is profanity good for you? Absofuckinglutely. Does infixing serve profanity as what James B. McMillan once called an “emotional stress amplifier”? I guarangoddamntee it. For most of us, infixings like these and interposings like shut the fuck up aren’t everyday speech, but nowadays, they’re hardly shocking. If you’re just not paying attention to your conversation, an infixing might take you by surprise, but the surprise will be mild, and the forms cleave so well to rules that they are obviously — gasp! — conventional. How does one draw attention to the unconventionality of one’s speech when infixing gets — yawn — a bit tired?

In fact, the rules of infixing are constantly under construction and repertoire of profanity thus constantly renewed. A March 2016 post at Celebslam, “Model at Midnight,” celebrated the Polish model Kate Sajur’s putatively “sweet rack.” It attracted the attention of Carmen Ribecca of The Superficial, an even better celebrity gossip site. Ribecca’s “good morning” post of April 1, 2016, included “Hell the fuck to the lo Kate Sajur” among several other enticing links. I’m less interested in the rack than I am in Ribecca’s novel twist on infixing. Like much other slang and profanity, Ribecca’s headline is poetic. Like many on-the-fly poets, Ribecca does what Ezra Pound exhorted poets to do when they could find nothing new under the sun: “Make it new.”

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What the “pokéfuck” is going on?

PokéBalls aren’t what they sound like – fortunately. They are capsules used to catch Pokémon, those little creatures swarming our smartphones, our streets, our very lives thanks to Nintendo’s hit new mobile game, Pokémon Go. But when we’re not playing with our PokéBalls, we are playing with our Pokémon words – swears included.

On social media, wordplay, especially blending, has become a ritual reaction to major new stories and trends. Remember regrexit? Pokémon Go, naturally, has inspired its own blends: pokémontage, pokémoron, pokébond, The Count of Pokémonte Cristo, and  yes, pokéfuck. Twitter alone is proving a veritable PokéStop for all manner of what we can only call pokéswears. Let’s see if we can, er, catch ‘em all.

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A bunch of bullfuck

bscover

Writing a book like Bullshit: A Lexicona look at words, common and obscure, for bullshit and bullshitters—was fun as fuck, as you might imagine. But one thing that’s not so much fun is coming across words I could have included after the fact. I’m pissed that I didn’t find bullshine in time. I would have loved to include gorilla dust.

Then there’s bullfuck.

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Gofukumachi!

Below is a guest post by David Morris, a teacher of English as a second language who holds a master’s degree in applied linguistics. David previously contributed to Strong Language with a post about cunt face in The Sound of Music, and he writes regularly about language and teaching at his blog Never Pure and Rarely Simple.

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At the time I wrote this, I was temporarily in Fukuoka, Japan, applying for a working visa for South Korea. One of my problems there was that I kept seeing strong English words in the middle of ordinary Japanese words.

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Bad will cunting

December, 1988. London (or perhaps Tooting). A 20-year-old dancer, lean, attractive – my girlfriend at the time – abruptly says, in a throaty growl, “Do you know what your cunting daughter did?”

Surprised, I laugh. “What did you say?!”

But she won’t say it twice. She said it once for shock effect. Once was enough, no more. She explains with a mischievous smile, pinking a little at the cheeks, that it’s a quote from The Exorcist.

Which means I’ve seen it before, because I’ve seen the movie, so this isn’t my first exposure to the word cunting. It’s just the first one I remember.

And actually it’s not exactly that way in the movie; it’s this:

You may be tempted to go to YouTube to see more of the scene for context. I really don’t think you want to do that. I have to tell you that you will almost certainly wish you hadn’t. I will not be held responsible if you do. But I will say that the swearword of choice does gain a greater literality from it.

Question, though: How does one cunt? Continue reading