Two weeks ago, I wrote a post about why you can’t say *abso-jesus-lutely, pointing out that you can only infix certain kinds of swears.
In response, Ed Cormany asked on Twitter whether I thought swears were in the same category as interjections. I said no, but this got me started on interjection infixation, which turns out to be abso-hallelujah-lutely interesting.
Here’s a puzzle: why can’t you say “abso-jesus-lutely”? (Recently brought to my attention by Leland Paul Kusmer.)
Let’s back up for a sec. The classic case of expletive infixation involves “fucking” or “bloody” as in abso-fucking-lutely, abso-bloody-lutely. And one syllable swears can’t infix: there’s no abso-fuck-lutely or abso-shit-lutely. But “Jesus” is two syllables, people swear with it, and it even has the same stress as the other two. Why doesn’t it sound right as an infix?
The Wikipedia page for the episodic video game Life Is Strange says reviewers praised its ‘tackling of taboo subjects’ but ‘disliked the slang’. Straddling these areas is swearing, of which the game makes frequent and impressive use. I haven’t played Life Is Strange but I know about its taboo language, because someone has helpfully compiled a 5½-minute rapid-fire montage of all the swears in the game.
You’ll hear the usual suspects (shit, fuck, ass, dick) and derivatives galore including several X-ass compounds (musty-ass, rusty-ass…), along with creative infixation (what-the-fuck-ever) and modern spins like fuck your selfie, viral slut, bro-holes, and stepdouche. One phrase, knocked on my ass by that dick, recalls Team America’s infamous swear-speech.