coarseness update

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Mar 8 18:48:59 UTC 2012

On Mar 8, 2012, at 1:14 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:

>> crapload
> The older, IME, "boatload" is too close to "buttload," perhaps. Or,
> maybe, the intention is to go all the way to "shitload," in time.
> Comedy Central stopped bleeping "shit" years ago, when it was still
> the Comedy Channel.
> IAC, "crapload" annoys the hell out of me. It's just too "nice-nasty,"
> as the colored say.
> FWIW, Ellen Degeneres, when she feels like it, greets her audience
> with "Hello, bitches!" and has been doing it for the past couple of
> years or, maybe, longer. I watch her show only when I'm at the
> doctor's office"Bitch" no longer kicks much ass in Middle America,
> apparently. And TV shows like "Punk'd" have weakened its impact.
> Besides, "punk" is homophobic - Unca Sam ain' gon' *be* no pawnk! -

I don't know about that.  For most English speakers, or white ones anyway, _punk_--pace its etymology/history--is no more homophobic than, let's see, "gunsel".  Actually, the OED entry indicates that for a century before it was used for 'a boy or young man kept by an older man as a (typically passive) sexual partner, a catamite' or 'a man who is made use of as a sexual partner by another man, esp. by force or coercion. Now chiefly Prison slang.', _punk_ was used for (female) prostitutes.  (And isn't that latter sense exactly parallel to that of _bitch_?)  

On the other hand, I agree that it can be tricky to use a word with one (non-archaic) slang sense  
[OED 2(c)]U.S. slang (derogatory). Now chiefly in African-American usage: a homosexual man.

and another 

[OED 3(a)] U.S. slang. A person of no account; a despicable or contemptible person; ...  (b) a petty criminal; a hoodlum, a thug.


> whereas "bitch" is merely sexist.
> --
> -Wilson
> -----
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
> to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -Mark Twain
> On Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 10:29 AM, Jonathan Lighter
> <wuxxmupp2000 at> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>> Sender: Â  Â  Â  American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster: Â  Â  Â  Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
>> Subject: Â  Â  Â coarseness update
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> In one day alone:
>> A Volt owner says in a TV commercial that a Volt can "save you a crapload
>> of money."
>> And middle-aged businessguy Peter Kiernan is interviewed on CNN about his
>> hot-selling _Becoming China's Bitch_.
>> Quasi-obscene? Sexist? Sinophobic? Homophobic? (why not "China's Punk"?)
>> You judge.
>> "Instinct disowns each darkening prophecy" - Melville.
>> JL
>> --
>> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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