Vietnam Graffiti Project (X sucks, etc.)

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Oct 21 18:51:19 UTC 2005

Shit! This sucks the green wienie! If only I'd had the foresight to
photograph the "There is no gravity. The universe sucks!" that I found
written on the exterior wall of the messhall at Fort Devens in
November of 1960. Or, perhaps better yet, recorded an example of "The
army takes the meat!" at Fort Leonard Wood in the late '50's, since
I've never seen it writted down.

[Lest anyone  misunderstand, I am, of course, being facetious, though
the examples and their datings are real.]

-Wilson Gray

On 10/21/05, Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Vietnam Graffiti Project (X sucks, etc.)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Fri, 21 Oct 2005 09:04:20 +0100, Jonathon Green wrote:
> [I wrote:]
> >>  I believe that this is the first time such
> >> usage has been found from the '60s (unless Ron Butters has discovered
> >> examples since his 2001 _Dictionaries_ article).
> >
> >In James Blake's 1971 prison memoir 'The Joint', the bulk of which is
> >composed of dated letters from 1950s-60s, one finds the following:
> >
> >1963 James Blake letter 21 Feb. in _The Joint_ (1972) 205: I wrote on
> >the wall, 'Franz Kafka sucks.'
> That's a great find, antedating by one year the intransitive example from
> the journal of Herbert Huncke ("Consuela sucks"). But I was referring
> specifically to transitive examples of the type "Army sucks big dick" --
> fellatory "suck" with nonhuman subject (= 'is worthless, objectionable').
> Quoting Ron's 2001 paper on "the putative vulgarity of _X sucks_":
> -----
> Moreover, though _suck cock_ is certainly plentiful in the printed record
> in the 1960s and 1970s, when people started saying _(This) X Sucks!_ in
> the 1960s, they did not go through a period in which a full utterance
> _*(This) X Sucks cock!_ was in evidence, unlike _(This) X Sucks eggs!_ (or
> _wind_ or _rope_).
> -----
> The Vietnam Graffiti Project evidence would seem to contradict this point.
> --Ben Zimmer

-Wilson Gray

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