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.
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