Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Jun 23 21:58:28 UTC 2006

An 18th century expert has provided this:

>Here are two Thames watermen exchanging insults about their
>respective male passengers:
>"You couple of treacherous sons of Bridewell bitches, who are pimps
>to your own mothers, stallions to your sisters, and cock-bawds to
>the rest of your relations! You were begot by huffling, spewed up,
>and not born, and christened out of a chamber-pot! How dare you show
>your ugly faces upon the river of Thames and fright the Queen's
>swans from holding their heads above water!" To which the other
>waterman responds: "You lousy starved crew of worm-pickers and
>snail-catchers! You offspring of a dunghill and brothers to a
>pumpkin, who can't afford butter to your cabbage, or bacon to your
>sprouts! You shitten rogues, who worship the fundament because you
>live by a turd! Who was he that sent the gardener to cut a hundred
>of asparagus and dug twice in his wife's parsley-bed before the good
>man came back again? Hold your tongues, you nitty radish-mongers, or
>I'll whet my needle upon my arse and sew your lips together."
>(Ned Ward, The London Spy, before 1709)

Blunt.  Lurid?  (Sensational, if not terrible or
ominous.)  Sexually-charged? (I like the gardener who dug twice in
the wife's parsley-bed.  Although I had to look up "huffling".)  And
close descendants of my 1665 parent-insulter.

I will read the Intro to HDAS I upon my next library visit.

Might "ram-bugger" be the sexual inversion of "sheep-shagger"?  (OED2
has "shag" = "copulate with" only back to Grose, 1788, and next to 1879.)

As for uncomplimentary, when OED3 gets around to the G's, and sees
that my parent-insulter also called his mother "[Gammar] Two Shooes",
that phrase will have to become an insult!


At 6/23/2006 08:58 AM, you wrote:
>Seventeenth-century diction was often surprisingly blunt (see, e.g.,
>the Intro to HDAS I) but not often "lurid."  For illustrations of
>what I feel is a genuine distinction between then and now, check the
>HDAS dates for the sexual compounds of your choice.  Censorship of
>the early record cannot be the sole cause of this.
>   Colonists called a spade a spade.  Unlike today, they didn't
> usually call it a "motherfuckin' shovel."
>   Some Brits satirically refer to (usu. rural)  Scots as
> "sheep-shaggers," but I believe that even in our imaginative age
> the object of the satire is always men, not women.
>   *Ram-bugger makes good sense, but without further data in the
> form, for example, of additional cites, the precise meaning of
> "rambeggur" remains a mystery.
>   But obviously it was uncomplimentary.
>   JL
>"Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET> wrote:
>   ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
>Sender: American Dialect Society
>Poster: "Joel S. Berson"
>Subject: Re: Ram-beggur
>At 6/22/2006 05:30 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> >Did "ram" mean, well, you know, at the time ? A citation would be nice.
>I've just come from Richard A. Spears's "Slang and Euphemism (Second
>Abridged Edition, Signet, 1991, where I was looking for "piss-house"
>et al. (Not found there or in Rawson). I took only brief notes on
>"ram". Spears claims "ram" meant "an act of copulation" from the
>1600s; "to copulate with a female" from the 1800s or earlier; "to
>perform pederasty" (I didn't note from when). I think he also has
>the sense "erect penis" (again I didn't note the date). Spears (or
>at least this abridged edition) does not have any quotations.
>Spears does not have "ram-beggur/bugger/beggar".
> > Even if it did - and I'm not ruling that out - it seems unlikely
> > to me that it was the sort of verb that would ordinarily be applied
> > to females. The same, I hate to say, goes for "bugger," though the
> > legal usage of the time may prove me wrong.
>Spears seems to agree. His senses of "ram" nearly all require the
>"ramming" to be male. Again from memory without notes, I think the
>same is true for "bugger".
> > Perhaps the idea is that a "rambeggur" was the sort of person so
> > depraved as to "beg" actual ovine rams for, well, you know. (I
> > believe such a word would be a bit too lurid for 1665.)
>Why? From the 1665 quotation--which is a report of trial
>testimony--and elsewhere (e.g. reading about the early 18th c.) I
>sense the language of the time to have been quite blunt and open.
>Someone elsewhere suggested your "begging for a male sheep's
>attendance" to me, but without any evidence. But a new thought to
>me: putting one and the other together, "ram" = "act of copulation"
>(rather than male ovine) + "begger" = "one who begs" -- that is, "a
>beggar for intercourse"?? And this would fit 1665 if Spears is correct.
> > Or was it a misreading of "rum-beggar." Another SWAG.
> >
> > Maybe that guy who talks to the dead on TV could help out. If
> > so, Oxford might put him on salary. Jesse ?
>Jesse, are there no citations for "ram" as a noun, sense copulation
>(or erect penis), in the OED? There is the verb (v.2 in OED2), with
>the meaning " trans. To leap (the ewe). 1688 R. Holme Armoury ii.
>vii. 134/1 A Ram, Rutteth or Rammeth the Ewe. 1694 Motteux Rabelais
>v. (1737) 222 They will not be ridden, tupp'd, and ramm'd.". Where
>"leap" means "Of certain beasts: To spring upon (the female) in
>copulation." Close enough to 1665?
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