Freak those monkey-fightin’ melon farmers!

Snakes on a Plane was, if nothing else, a success of marketing over, well, every other aspect of filmmaking. Even those who resisted watching it are likely to be familiar with a line from Samuel L. Jackson, so successfully did it percolate into pop culture (video NSFW; assume the same throughout):

It’s a good line and a great delivery, but family-friendly it ain’t. So as a happy consequence it was dubbed for TV into the wonderful non sequitur ‘monkey-fightin’ snakes on this Monday-to-Friday plane’ (and with fuckin’ softened to freakin’):

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New voice transcription feature in Google Docs censors (some!) swearwords

Google Docs announced today that you can now create documents using your voice.  And of course, like any good linguist, I immediately went to try to stump it. It’s pretty good, actually — it recognized both pronunciations of “gif” and “aunt” in the contexts “animated ___” and “uncle and ___” although it tended to assume that I might have the bit/bet merger, which I most emphatically do not, and thus presented me with a few transcriptions that felt like odd candidates to me.

But then I tried swearwords and hit the fucking jackpot. Continue reading

Accessible bowdlerization

I’ve been experimenting with screen readers as part of my research on creating accessible documents for people with print disabilities. Popular screen-reading programs include

  • VoiceOver, which comes free on a Mac;
  • NVDA, which is free to download for Windows; and
  • JAWS, a Windows program that costs $179 for a ninety-day licence or $895 for the home edition.

Of course, because I have the mentality of a twelve-year-old, the first thing I did was run VoiceOver on the Strong Language tag cloud, which the software recited with aplomb.

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Sweary links #6

For your weekend reading pleasure, a bumper batch of sweary shit from around the internet. You may have seen some of these items before, especially if you follow @stronglang on Twitter, but I bet there’s something new here even to devotees.

Romance writer KJ Charles has a great defence (and examination) of swearing in fiction, showing its importance in conveying character and mood, among other things.

I’m not ashamed of my name, says Mr Fuck (pronounced ‘foo-key’).

Swearwords help boost awareness of sign language at Adelaide Fringe festival.

There’s been a lot of anger and sarcasm in bookish circles at the ‘Clean Reader’ app that (ineptly) replaces profanities and vulgarities with sanitised alternatives: ‘chickenshit bullshit’, as Strong Language‘s @VoxHiberionacum pithily described it. Lionel Shriver has a smart response in the Guardian:

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Book review: ‘Damn! A Cultural History of Swearing in Modern America’, by Rob Chirico

Swearing and the public have an intimate but uneasy relationship. Eric Partridge bowdlerised fuck with an asterisk in his landmark Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, but the book was still censured fiercely for the word’s inclusion. The explosive power of the F-bomb is encoded in that very term, which along with other euphemisms allows it to be discussed in public without tainting one’s hands or mouth.

Rob Chirico - Damn! A Cultural History of Swearing in Modern America - Pitchstone Publishing book coverRob Chirico’s new book Damn! A Cultural History of Swearing in Modern America casts a wry and probing eye on the colourful status of off-colour language in American culture over the last century or so, with a few forays further back and further afield. The US, he writes, is undergoing ‘a linguistic, and therefore cultural, shift that is passively opening up to an amplified inclusion of profanity’. This provides the backdrop for a lively examination of the terrain and our divergent attitudes towards swearing.

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