We’ve featured swearing montages from video games; now here’s one from TV.
Even if you’ve never seen Sharpe (I haven’t), that won’t stop you enjoying Sean Bean uttering oaths from it non-stop for 7½ minutes – mostly bastard, bloody, bugger and damn, with crap, arse, piss, prick and twat entering the fray near the end and culminating in this mighty outburst:
What an idiot. What a dirty little Dutch buffle-brained bastard. I’ll ram his poxed crown up his royal poxed arse. The blue-blooded twat.
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.
Snakes on a Plane was, if nothing else, a success of marketing over, well, every other aspect of filmmaking. Even those who resisted watching it are likely to be familiar with a line from Samuel L. Jackson, so successfully did it percolate into pop culture (video NSFW; assume the same throughout):
It’s a good line and a great delivery, but family-friendly it ain’t. So as a happy consequence it was dubbed for TV into the wonderful non sequitur ‘monkey-fightin’ snakes on this Monday-to-Friday plane’ (and with fuckin’ softened to freakin’):
Swearing in songs, as in speech, is used in all sorts of ways and for all kinds of reasons. I won’t even try to be representative here, even of a single genre in a given era. This is the first sweary songs post on Strong Language but it won’t be the last. Some of the tracks featured will be very sweary, others minimally so or only suggestive, but you should assume all audio is VFNSFW (very fucking not suitable for work).
First up is an a cappella song so sweet and jaunty you could almost play it in the company of your old-fashioned in-laws – as long as they didn’t listen too closely to the words. It’s the dangerously catchy ‘Rotten Cocksuckers’ Ball’ by ’50s doo-wop group The Clovers. Sample lyric:
Cocksuckin’ Sammy get your motherfuckin’ mammy,
We’re goin’ downtown to the Cocksuckers’ Ball.
Fuck, suck and fight, till beginning of the broad daylight.
In my mid-teens I spent a few summer weeks in beautiful Brittany on a school exchange. With our French peers my classmates and I eagerly exchanged more than just grammar lessons, swearwords being among the most popular items of cross-cultural education. I tried out all the new swears I learned (and did the same when I learned German), but my awareness of their social nuances remained crude. The internet hadn’t happened yet.
As the years passed and my fluency in these languages declined with disuse, I seldom resorted to their swears – the emotional gratification was limited, and I didn’t feel authentic enough. I had im-fucking-postor syndrome. But I never forgot the feeling of swearing in a foreign tongue, the impish appeal of going native with these exotic and tantalising taboos. The phenomenon is especially interesting because swearing, linguistically speaking, is neurologically unusual.
Which brings us to multilingualism.