Racial slurs®

“Strong language” covers a lot of speech, from profanity to racial and ethnic slurs. The slurs got a big boost on 17 June 2017, in a United States Supreme Court decision. Until then, the Lanham Act of 1946 — which governs American trademark law — prohibited use of derogatory terms like slurs in federally approved trademarks. To quote the Act, trademarks may not “disparage … persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” The Court unanimously decided instead that trademark owners can disparage with abandon and bring others into contempt or disrepute deliberately or with disregard.

In the words of Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority opinion, Simon Tam — founder of The Slants, the first all Asian-American dance-rock band — applied “for federal trademark registration of the band’s name […]. ‘Slants’ is a derogatory term for persons of Asian descent, and members of the band are Asian-Americans. But the band members believe that by taking that slur as the name of their group, they will help to ‘reclaim’ the term and drain its denigrating force.” The United States Patent and Trademark Office refused the application because slant refers to the disparaging stereotype that people of Asian heritage are “slant-eyed.” The band hoped to “‘take ownership’ of stereotypes about people of Asian ethnicity.” The USPTO obstructed that re-appropriation. Continue reading

Four Femmes on the Thames: ‘Woman up and grow a twat!’

The Four Femmes on the Thames are a cabaret-style group who specialise in old-style jazz and swing music with a comedy twist. Their song ‘Woman Up’ was described by Holly Brockwell at Gadgette as the sweary feminist anthem of the year. I’m sure you can see the Strong Language angle (and appeal) already.

The title, if you’re wondering, inverts the sexist idiom man up, and instead of grow a pair the Femmes suggest that people grow a twat, recalling a quip (‘Grow a vagina – those things can take a pounding’) often misattributed to Betty White. The song is a 3-minute NSFW delight; lyrics and more below the fold:

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Sweary links #15

Celebrating U.S. Thanksgiving next week? Perhaps your guests would enjoy a slice of tofucken, that mischievously named concoction of tofu stuffed with tempeh and seitan. (Hat tip: Barry Popik.)

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Eleven charts that will speak to anyone who really fucking loves swearing. (Hat tip: Mike Pope.)

11charts

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You’re a what with a glove? Or, pardon my mondegreen

We have all heard them—or misheard them: “There’s a bathroom on the right” (for “There’s a bad moon on the rise,” from “Bad Moon Rising,” by Creedence Clearwater Revival); “Might as well face it, you’re a dick with a glove” (for “Might as well face it, you’re addicted to love,” from “Addicted to Love” by Robert Palmer); and perhaps the most famous of all, “’Scuse me while I kiss this guy,” (for “’Scuse me while I kiss the sky,” from “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix). That last mishearing was so prevalent, legend has it that Jimi himself would occasionally stop and kiss a guy after singing this line in concert. If you have ever wondered what these mishearings are called, now you know: they’re mondegreens. According to William Safire of The New York Times, the term mondegreen dates from a 1954 magazine article by Sylvia Wright in which she said she had misheard the folk lyric “and laid him on the green” as “and Lady Mondegreen.”

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