spaz and Tiger Woods

Chris F. Waigl chris at LASCRIBE.NET
Sun Apr 16 11:36:38 UTC 2006

On Wed, 2006-04-12 at 23:34 -0400, Wilson Gray wrote:
> David, is your houseguest familiar with "Fawlty Towers"? From time to time,
> the sign, "Fawlty Towers," would be "anagrammatized," so to speak. On one o=
> f
> the shows, the anagram read, "Flowery Twats." This was back in the '70's,
> but I'm still trying to recover frrom the shock. ;--)

I am a houseguest in London at the moment and while raiding the
bookshelves (the books belong to a 13 y.o.) found the following in Mark
Haddon's _The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time_ (the
narrator is a 15 y.o. boy who, the reader gathers, most likely has an
Autism-related disorder):

All the other children at my school are stupid. Except I'm not meant to
call them stupid even though this is what they are. I'm meant to say
that they have learning difficulties or that they have special needs.
But this is stupid because everybody has learning difficulties because
learning to speak French or understanding Relativity is difficult, and
also everyone has special needs, like Father who has to carry a little
packet of artificial sweetening tablets around with him to put in his
coffee to stop him getting fat, or Mrs Peters who wears a beige-coloured
hearing-aid, or Siobhan who has glasses so thick that they give you a
headache if you borrow them, and none of these people are Special Needs,
even if they have special needs.
But Siobhan said we have to use those words because people used to call
children like the children at school _spaz_ and _crip_ and _mong_ which
were nasty words. But that is stupid too because sometimes the children
from the school down the road see us in the street when we're getting
off the bus and they shout, 'Special Needs! Special Needs!'
(ch. 71, p. 56)

> "Spastic" and "cripple" are taboo, but "twat" is okay?! "Ssup wit dat?!" as
> Ali G (or whatever his name is) might ask.

Well, I don't think I've ever used "twat" myself, but that's how my
intuition would rank them. "Twat" appears to have lost all genderedness.
If anything, it's most of the time used from one man to the other. Very

Chris Waigl

The American Dialect Society -

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