RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Wed Jan 15 14:09:05 UTC 2003

Thinking about it a little more, I remember that the FULL phrase was "You
fuck an A John!" meaning 'totally right, I agree." In this version, there is
no pause between "A" and "John"; John is the highest in pitch with a fall at
the end. So intonationally, the utterance must mean 'John, you [do] fuck an
A', it can't mean 'You [are a] fucking A, John," (i.e., the schwa+nasal could
not possibly be {-ing}). Of course, I suppose that "You fuck an A John!"
could be a back formation from "Fucking A," but the fact that Iowa schoolboys
in the mid-1950s regularly used the "full" form indicates that a lot of us
analyzed the phrase as pseudoimperative, not participial. (By the way, I
don't have any trouble saying FUCKING with a velar nasal. In fact, In would
HAVE TO use a velar nasal in a sentence such as "I don't believe it, Miss
Pringle gave me a fucking A on my mental health paper.")

I never really speculated about what "A" meant, though I don't think that
'Amen!" would have made much sense to me, despite Doug Wilson's conjecture.
Since "Amen" is not a taboo word, one would expect that there would be
recorded instances of "Fucking Amen!" And the reanalysis of "Amen" to "A,
men" seems highly implausible.

'Asshole' would have made perfect sense to me, however: 'You fuck an asshole
John!' (when thought of in the context of adolescent male heterosexual
fantasies) would have been seen as conveying a particularly positive message.

In a message dated 1/15/03 7:26:59 AM, preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU writes:

> I wonder how many times any of us have heard "fucking" with the velar
> nasal? I find it hard to do. (Just like "fishing"; I go "fishin,"
> commercial fishermen go "fishing." Actually, guys who dress up in
> funnly pants-boots and hats and use big ol long skinny poles to catch
> trout also go "fishing" in my speech.)
> I suppose "fucking a's" pronunciation with an alveolar could cause
> those given to alveolar pronunciations in general to folk etymologize
> it. On the other hand, us alveolarizers could be said to have folk
> etymologized for the same reason. I fact, the sense ("you bet," or
> "damn straight") is absolutely right in my speech, and leads one to
> hypothesize that "fucking" simply plays the role of an intensifier
> (as it so often does) and "A" is not (as us kids had it) "ass-hole"
> at all, but from the collection of "A" expression like "A number one"
> (first class), etc... . An interesting proposal.
> dInIs

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