Monday, August 14, 2006

The Hierarchy of Abuse

This is a topic that has had a fair share of an analysis, I am sure. Nevertheless, I was thinking about the appropriate use of abusive language to ensure you get your message across. It helps in this to think of these things in historical context - and I am talking here about one or even 2 centuries ago.

Now, it will surprise some of you to know that I wasn't actually around at the turn of the 20th century, which is about the latest I am talking here, and fingers has gone away so I am relying on research and my 'general' knowledge. I should say in my defence that I have read a lot of Dickens and all the Biggles stories. I have even read all Jane Austen's stuff and no fingers I am not gay.

Here are some examples:


1. "Dickhead". This can be used in a variety of contexts, from someone losing a snag off the hotplate mid-bbq to someone driving at 40 in a 70 zone.

The former is something like being a 'silly duffer' in my grandmother's eyes. In the latter case, if Mr Darcy was stuck behind a mail carriage that refused to pull over and let him pass in his sports carriole, he would have no doubt leaned out of his horse-drawn conveyance to shake his whip with vexation and cry "You sir are not a gentleman".

2. "Asshole". A little stronger, and hard to see this in a convivial context. This is more appropriate when cut off in traffic. And no, the trip to work was fine today, thank you, I just find traffic situations a simple example. No really.

If Biggles was an American fighter pilot (and I apologise to anyone who is currently having Mav and Goose based flashbacks just now - and while we are on the topic, does Val Kilmer win the Lifetime Award for services to Carpentry for his amazingly wooden acting in that movie or what?) he would have used this word to describe the Bally Huns or any other rotting blighter who did anything to prevent him from making his rendezvous with that frightfully accommodating young French peasant girl who he saved from certain deflowering at the hands of those dreadful scoundrels the Germans...

3. "Fuckwit". Stronger again - little love is lost in using this...

The Australian equivalent for my grandmother's ilk would be something like a "dirty bugger", whereas Elizabeth Bentley would have found a man to be "not handsome, not at all extraordinary and without fortune."

4. "C-". As you can see, my reluctance to use this one off the bat is a sure sign of its gravity. I must confess though that I have used this word more often in the last 2 years than in my entire life before that. This is primarily due to a mate of mine who drops the c word like it is going out of fashion. To the point where a group of us are running a book on what will be his 12mth old son's first word. Mum and Dad are running distantly behind fuck, but cunt has the money.

It is difficult to find a completely accurate equivalent to this, however I suspect that this is much like being a bounder and a cad. I have always wondered what the exact difference is between these, and it appears not as much as one might think, but from memory fellows tended to be both. I now believe this is the equivalent, at least for Rik, of being a bastard and bastard.

The interesting thing as that only the last one tends to give any degree of satisfaction these days, and even then not as much as before. We need a new extreme...

Do you have any more for us? Go on, share...

24 Comments:

At 11:43 am, Blogger Original Mel said...

I am still a fan of "wanker", but some more inventive terms I also like to use are "fuck head", "shit breath", "tool" (if only because of all those angsty teen boys who wear it so proudly on their t-shirts), "dumb arse" and my bestie's favourite, which is catching on I must admit, is "jizz face".

 
At 12:04 pm, Blogger Mex said...

tunnel cunted mole

 
At 12:08 pm, Blogger W said...

Fuckwit is a personal favourite.

Asshat is also good for its less confrontational tone.

We had a really gross one that we used at my all girls school to the horror of our friends at the boys school down the road, but it's not really for polite company.

 
At 12:30 pm, Blogger WJ said...

hmmm, on reflection I am not sure whether I really thought through the invitation I have issued for people to jump in and gross me out with their favourites.

That'll learn me. But, er, thanks for the contributions... and W, thanks for the restraint...

 
At 2:16 pm, Blogger actonb said...

I'm particularly fond of 'fucktard' at the moment. For all those times when 'retard' just doesn't seem right...

And can I just say: hamburger from the local take-away - pure heaven!

 
At 2:17 pm, Blogger W said...

No problem WJ. I am quite restrained in my sharing.

 
At 3:03 pm, Blogger Mex said...

fucktard is a good one B... and knob jockey is also an old fave

 
At 3:03 pm, Blogger actonb said...

Since when did this constitute polite company?

 
At 3:06 pm, Blogger mushroom said...

dickwad is one of my faves

 
At 3:28 pm, Blogger Georgia said...

Fuckwit, shithead and dickhead (and "Jesus Christ all-fucking-mighty!") get me through Dubai traffic. At a party on the weekend, I called a girl a fuckwit and a guy a dickhead and felt much better afterwards. Well, the girl seemed to think it was OK for a drunk diabetic to be out in 35 degree heat his head lolling about like a bladder on a stick - definitely a fuckwit. And the guy snatched my phone, went through my messages and threw the phone down the staits - definitely a dickhead!

I don't mind the old c-word once in a while. Ever since I saw Su Ann Post, genius lesbian ex-Mormon comedian who urged women to reclaim it in all its forms. The next day my best mate (who was at the comedy gig with me) and I drove to Adelaide, we were both recently done wrong by boys, and for the whole two-day drive, we called them King Cunt and Corporal Cunt. Very cathartic! King Cunt is now married to the world's dullest woman and she has banned him from talking to me. Can't imagine why... These days, I'd only borrow him for a few hours and return him washed, just like borrowing a jumper...

 
At 3:39 pm, Blogger W said...

Good point actonb. I forget sometimes.....

mex has heard me use the c-word in public recently. I think she was impressed. Guess that halo is definitely tarnished.

 
At 3:41 pm, Blogger Chesty LaRue said...

I'm a big fan of the two-syllable insults at the moment, generally taking the form of 'swear-' : fuckstick, fucktard, arsemunch, shitlips, Buttchum, cuntscrape, shitstain, shitsmear, arselick, cuntface, fuckarse, arseface, wankstain, wanktard, dickbreath, dickwad, cuntbrain etc. etc.

Cuntscrape has ben a personal favourite for a while ... along with papsmear. And douchebag.

But each to their own.

 
At 6:40 pm, Blogger Georgia said...

And "cunt-hook" for a male slut causes a nice degree of universal offence.

 
At 9:37 am, Blogger Original Mel said...

I once heard Alexei Sayle use the phrase "fucking cunt you wanker", which I feel just about sums up every feeling you have when someone, for example, moves their car so you can't lane split in peak hour traffic when you are running late for work.

 
At 10:22 am, Blogger Mountjoy said...

The brother in law came out with "fuck stain" (a regular in his arsenal, apparently - I was rather impressed with the gross implications of the image.

"Cockhead" is also a nice low level entree to serious abuse.

 
At 10:24 am, Blogger Mountjoy said...

Oh, forgot "poofter cunt". If you analyse that one, I think you end up with it literally meaning "arsehole".

Of course there is "asshole" versus "arsehole" too.

And is it just me, or does anyone else find that people get a tad hot under the coller on the road when you flip them the bird? I've never been overly offended by it, but have had some very precious reactions when I've delivered it lately....

 
At 4:40 pm, Blogger Georgia said...

Count your blessings, Donnie. You can go to jail for giving the finger in traffic here. Instead, we have this weird hand signal which basically means "Wait your fucking turn, you incompetent, impatient shithead! I was here first and I learnt to drive in a proper country!" You raise your hand, show them the back of your hand and snap your fingers onto your thumb like a bird's beak.

 
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