Vietnam Graffiti Project (X sucks, etc.)

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sat Oct 22 02:30:44 UTC 2005

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 14:51:19 -0400, Wilson Gray wrote:
> >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.
> That *would* be something. Ron Butters recalls seeing "The universe sucks"
> as a graffito in 1968, and a variant with "The earth sucks" shows up in
> the 1970 movie _The Strawberry Statement_.
> For those who remember the gravity joke, where does it fit exactly in the
> history of "X sucks"? Did it play on a preexisting pejorative sense of
> "suck(s)", and if so, did that sense have anything to do with fellatio? Or
> could "X sucks" have been (at least partially) derived *from* the gravity
> joke, with the sexual connotation developing later?
> Here's the chronology we've established so far:
> c1960: "The universe sucks" as Army graffito
> c1963: Generalized "X sucks" as prison graffito
> c1966: Generalized "X sucks" and "X sucks dick (etc.)" as Army graffito
> --Ben Zimmer

FWIW, "suck" is the only "native," as it were, BE term for "fellate"
that I know. All of the other terms that I know come from literature
or from social interaction with whites at work or in the Army. Well,
there are a few other BE terms that I know from blues songs, but a lot
of these are so heavily encoded and rarely used that I have no
sprachgefuehl for them. It's like looking into a dictionary and seeing
that "khuy tebe v rot" means "suck my dick" in Russian or that
"mamada" means "blow job" in Spanish.


-Wilson Gray

More information about the Ads-l mailing list