Jesse Sheidlower on Morning Edition

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Mar 28 01:41:21 UTC 2008

I, OTOH, have known that "suck" referred to fellatio since I was a
child. But I neither knew nor cared why it was supposed to be uncool
in some unknown sense till much later in life. When I was about eight,
we "punished" Richard, a little, five-year-old, black pain-in-the-ass,
by confidencing him into sucking white Buddy's dick. (Race had nothing
to do with it. It was just that Buddy was the only one who was willing
to take one for the team and put his dick into someone else's <ugh!>
mouth.) There was no eroticism in the act, either overt or covert,
because, though we knew what fucking was, even at that time, we had
not the slightest idea of what "sex" was and had no interest in it.
So, Buddy's dick just hung there, limp, while Richard had it in his
mouth. As to whether Richard *really* sucked Buddy's dick or merely
held it in his mouth, no one thought to ask, since our purpose was to
lame Richard out so that he could be laughed at for a reason that none
of us understood and not to get Richard to suck Buddy off. We wouldn't
have known how to go about the latter, in any case, even if that
possibility had occurred to anyone, since the act was devoid of
eroticism for all participants.


On Thu, Mar 27, 2008 at 6:58 PM, Benjamin Lukoff <blukoff at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>  Poster:       Benjamin Lukoff <blukoff at ALVORD.COM>
>  Subject:      Re: Jesse Sheidlower on Morning Edition
>  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>  On Thu, 27 Mar 2008, Mullins, Bill AMRDEC wrote:
>  > "Why Children Curse"
>  >
>  > Money quote:
>  > "  "There is an assumption that 'sucks' was a reference to oral sex,"
>  > explains Jesse Sheidlower, editor-at-large of the Oxford English
>  > Dictionary. Some scholars debate this, but Sheidlower says perception is
>  > what matters.
>  > "Suck" may sound edgy or obnoxious to middle-aged ears, but parents may
>  > be at a loss to explain why it's a bad word, especially to an 8- or
>  > 9-year-old. "It brings up a conversation you might not want to have
>  > right now," says Sheidlower. "
>  When I was that age, most of my friends and I knew it was "bad," but we
>  didn't think it referred to oral sex--we thought the object of the verb
>  was "shit."
>  ------------------------------------------------------------
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