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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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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Clusterboinks and clusterfornications: The children of clusterfuck

I love the word clusterfuck. It’s a perfect word for, as Jesse Sheidlower defines it in The F-Word, “a bungled or confused undertaking or situation.” That sums up approximately 91.3% of life.

Much as I dig the original, I’m also a fan of variations. Here are some rare cluster-alternatives I’ve spotted over the years: the children of clusterfuck. Like a lot of children, most are less offensive than the parental unit. But they’re all signs of verbal creativity—and the omnipresence of clusterfuckery.

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