Obama's characterization in Rolling Stone

Charles C Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Fri Oct 26 12:22:23 UTC 2012

Just a couple of days ago, I overheard myself (well past 50!) using the word "bullshit" in class--while imploring my students to make their writing substantive, focused, and concise.

I must report, however, that some students giggled in (presumable) reaction to hearing the word fall trippingly from such a superannuated tongue.

I'm thinking that if I had, instead, said "b.s.," no eyebrow would have risen.


From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Jonathan Lighter [wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2012 9:57 PM

I don't know about the rules, but I was just listening to HBO's _Real Time
with Bill Maher_ and heard numerous "fucks" and a couple of "bullshits".
 Earlier in the evening, I was speaking with a devoutly Christian friend,
nearly my age, who frequently expresses himself that way to indicate only
very slightly more emotion than usual.

If you're under 40 (or maybe even 50 at this point), that level of usage
presumably sounds unremarkable in most contexts unless accompanied by
strident intonation and wild gesticulating.  The overall contents of
UrbanDictionary are suggestive in this regard.

For most people, I suppose "motherfucker" still retains some shock value.
As does "cocksucker." A distinguished lawyer friend, however, uses both
where I would choose the now mealy-mouthed "bastard" and "son of a bitch."

Just be thankful that British unisex "cunt" is still rare here.

For now.


On Thu, Oct 25, 2012 at 6:40 PM, David Barnhart <dbarnhart at highlands.com>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       David Barnhart <dbarnhart at HIGHLANDS.COM>
> Subject:      Obama's characterization in Rolling Stone
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Obama is quoted in Rolling Stone and other publications as characterizing
> Romney's campaign as that of a _bullshitter_.  As odious a term as this is
> for me (I'm 71), in the style of Rolling Stone magazine, my son contends
> it's appropriate.   Is the term used here as odious as say
> _mother_(+something or other)?  The cable news media have substituted
> _bull****ter_.  Is that necessary to comply with FAA rules about obscenity?

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