? ? ? keep a cow

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Mon Apr 25 16:11:38 UTC 2005

Have we any "early" evidence of the French idiom ?  Regardless, since our dating of the English term is necessarily vague, one supposes for now that either could have translated either - or each derveloped independently.


Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
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Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Laurence Horn
Subject: Re: ? ? ? keep a cow

At 5:30 AM -0700 4/25/05, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>My feeling has always been that "GFY" underlies "GCY," but there is
>an understandable lack of early written records.
>Indeed, I've always felt that "Go fuck yourself" may have developed
>from "Go frig yourself," since that, in the older sense of "frig,"
>is at least is physiologically possible.

Another possibility, though this is purely speculative, is that "go
fuck yourself" is a syntactic reworking of "(go) get (yourself)
fucked", as in the French "va (te) faire foutre" with the same
meaning and force. I realize that there's also "fuck you" to deal
with, but I could imagine a shift resulting in the non-reflexive
meaning (where fucker =/= fuckee) taking on an apparently reflexive
form. Somehow the idea that "go fuck yourself" derives from "go frig
yourself" just seems to go against the usual flow of traffic on this


>James C Stalker wrote:
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>Sender: American Dialect Society
>Poster: James C Stalker
>Subject: Re: ? ? ? keep a cow
>Further thought. Perhaps the base form is "go fuck yourself." By
>extension, "go fuck a cow," which I'm sure your dad would never have said or
>even have thought of, so the "go + (do) + absurd action" is a euphemistic
>substitute. Opens up lots of creative options. Maybe?

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