Guest post: Trademarks the government doesn’t want you to see

We’re pleased to introduce Strong Language readers to Anne Gilson LaLonde, the author of Gilson on Trademarks, a legal treatise on United States trademark law.  Anne writes and speaks about many different aspects of trademark law, but this topic may well be her favorite.

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Under the federal trademark statute, trademarks that are found to be “scandalous” can’t be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  While this doesn’t stop trademark owners from using these marks, they can’t rely on various legal advantages that come with federal registration.

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Limmy’s swear-off

Scottish comedian Limmy has some fun with action film clichés in this short (NSFW) sketch from his superb Limmy’s Show. It mixes familiar ideas, like the escalation of insults, with completely unexpected turns like, well, you’ll see. Let’s just say it gives the phrase bad language a new meaning. Transcript follows below the fold.

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Fuck yourself up the ass with a Lego brick!

It’s not hard to find guides to multilingual swearing. I own several myself, from Merde! Et Merde Encore! to Mexican Slang: A ¡*#@&%+! Guide. But only one book on my shelf includes brand-name swears: curses from around the world that derive their force from registered trademarks.

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“…and a broke-dick piece of shit drill.”

As if my brain weren’t already a mush of holiday music, there’s a new earworm stuck in my head. (And soon in yours, too.) They say the holiday season is all about giving, so I’m handing this sweary little gift to you.

Today, a student wanted to share with me a music video of sorts (a holiday promo for Payday 2, a video game) that had been splitting his sides all day:

Student: Can we watch it? There’s swearing.

Me (no hesitation): Absolutely.

(I work with adults with various exceptionalities, in case either the permission or the query raised your eyebrows.)

There’s a lot going here–swearing-wise and swearing aside. The prosody and phonology of “…and a broke-dick piece of shit drill” works quite well with the actual cadence of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” for one. Video games, for another, are impressively cinematic nowadays.

But it’s broke-dick that really pricked my ears, as it struck me as 1) an exceptional swear, featuring both the percussive phonology of English cusswords, which James Harbeck explored earlier, and productive patterns of affixation, which Strong Language contributors are presently cooking up some great posts about; and 2) an at once old-fashioned-sounding yet somehow contemporary swear. Continue reading