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The F-Word - Jesse Sheidlower

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Genre: Encyclopedias / Reference / Edition: New Ed / Paperback / 272 Pages / Book is published 1999-09-20 by Faber and Faber

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      11.07.2001 08:30
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      So there I was, browsing round a branch of The Works, when something caught my eye. A bright yellow book looking lonely, with the asterisked legend: f*** embossed in black on the cover. Reduced to £1 as well - what an irresistable f***ing bargain! The editor, Jesse Sheidlower (isn't that German for cowpat?) lives in Manhattan with "his wife, his dog, his two razor-clawed cats, and a f#@k of a lot of books." He describes this book as: "the complete history of the word in all its robust and various uses" and claims that: "this book contains every sense of f**k, and every compound word or phrase of which f**k is a part." "I like to think that in the future people will be more offended by violence than by language" he said in an interview. Hear, hear! If you would not wish your servants to read a line like: "I'm not just my lady's f**ker, after all" then this book will almost certainly give you heart failure. This is the second edition, and the American publishers have now included several British, Australian and feckin' Irish expressions previously unfamiliar across the pond. Although I find it hard to believe that they didn't know what a f***wit was - after all, they "elected" one to be their President last year, didn't they? There is an introduction offering a potted history of the F-word and its first appearances in print and on television, but basically what we have here is an A-Z of Effing, from Absof**kinglutely to Zipless F**k (apparently coined by Erica Jong in her 1973 book "Fear of Flying" to describe an unemotional act of intercourse.) Inevitably it is full of barrack room slang and unpleasantries, but it is educational - I certainly learned a few things from reading it! For example, I didn't know that lighting one cigarette from another is called a "Dutch
      f**k" and that a "French f**k" is something very different. Call me naive, but I'd never even heard of a "f**kerware party". Ann Summers has a lot to answer for! To give you an example, here is one of my favourite entries: HORSE-F**KING /adjective/ huge. a1968 in Legman "Rationale" p.549: Two great horse-f**king volumes. [My asterisks. Obviously the word F**k cannot appear on dooyoo because the sky would fall in and we would all die.] Just one of many wonderful expressions the bloody Bowdlerizing po-faced anti-swearing brigade would like to deprive us of... ('scuse my gramma - she's not well.) Oh I'm sorry, am I being childish? So much is in the ear of the beholder anyway. I don't think that anyone ever suggested Kenneth Williams was being vulgar when he used his catchphrase: "Ooh stop muckin' about" even though Ernest Hemingway had already used "mucking" as a euphemism - perhaps even as an abbreviation of motherf**king: "...muck this whole treacherous muck-faced mucking country and every mucking Spaniard in it on either side and to hell for ever." For Whom The Bell Tolls (1940) chapter 35. And when Samuel Johnson famously excluded vulgarities from his dictionary, it lead to a memorable exchange. A lady complimented him for leaving out such offensive words, to which he replied: "No, Madam, I hope I have not daubed my fingers. I find, however, that you have been looking for them." Indeed, many dictionary compilers preferred to leave their tomes incomplete rather than print offensive words until quite recently. The Oxford English Dictionary excluded the F and C words until 1972 - although they had included Windf**ker (a type of kestrel). There is also a f**k-you lizard, so named because of it's call. Each entry includes chronologically ordered examples of it's usage in bo
      oks or films. Now before anyone condemns me for trawling through this lexicon of obscenity, consider these two passages cited as examples of usage: "I hate to think of going into combat with f**k-offs like these." and "You know, ... this is really a f**ked over situation." Sound familiar anyone? Both are taken from a book recently extolled here on dooyoo by a very prominent personage... You know who you are! Hit that crown button or I'll tell everyone! Some books are referenced an extraordinary number of times. e.g. "Bawdy Verse" (1610) and "Love and Drollery" (1650). But "The Romance of Lust" (1866) and "Stag Party" (1888) sound particularly suitable for anyone with a really filthy mind. Surprisingly, f**k is NOT an Anglo-Saxon word as we have always been led to believe. It was probably borrowed from Low German, French, Flemish or Dutch sometime in the fifteenth century. Similar words from Europe which may be related (illegitimately?) include:- ? the German word 'ficken' (meaning to copulate) ? the Middle Dutch word 'fokken' (to thrust or copulate with) ? the Swedish words 'fock' (penis) and 'focka' (to strike or push) ? and the Norwegian word 'fukka' (to copulate) So you can forget the myth about it being an acronym (for Forced Unsolicited Carnal Knowledge, for example.) But talking of acronyms... there are plenty of those in this book and I think some of them could come in handy here on the net... ? FYFI (For Your Information) here are a few of my favourites:- ? AMF ........ Adios Mother... ? BFD ........ Big Flaming Deal. ? BUF ........ Big Ugly Freak. ? NFG ........ No Flaming Good. ? NFW ....... No Feasible Way. And users of the other opinion site will find these invaluable:- ? SNAFU .... Situation Normal - All Foule
      d Up. ? TARFU .... Things Are Really Fouled Up. ? FUBAR .... Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition. ? FUBB ...... Fouled Up Beyond Belief. [For those unfamiliar with it, the other opinion site is usually more fogged up than a soup sandwich in a rainstorm.] Some of the words have been changed to protect their identity by the way, which brings me to the subject of euphemisms:- Feck you; flak you; forget you; fork you; fug you; frapping this; freaking that; fricking the other... The oldest must be 'frig' - Rabbie Burns used it in 1786, and it had already popped up many times before then. When Norman Mailer published The Naked and the Dead in 1947 he was forced to use that rather embarrassing euphemism 'fug'. How he must have laughed when he met the wit Dorothy Parker and she greeted him: "So you're the man who can't spell f**k?" Anyway, I think it's time for me to "stop this futzing around" as Ronald Reagan once said. This is a serious lexicographical work (with the emphasis on the graphic) so I do apologize if you have found this op a bit tedious. If that is the case then f**k you and the horse you rode in on - if you'll pardon my French/Low German/Middle Dutch/whatever. Anyway if you're looking for a Christmas present for an obnoxious thirteen-year-old nephew (and you don't mind being disinherited by his parents) then this book is absof**kinglutely perfect. I'm off to auction my copy outside the nearest school playground, because I'm an unbef**kinglievably irref**kingsponsible f**ker. The F-Word is published by F---r & F---r, pp228, UK RRP £5.99. (It's currently available at W.H.Smith online for £4.79 + P&P) ____________________________________________________ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

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      Here is the complete history of the word still considered one of the most vulgar and offensive in the English language, from its debut in 15th-century England to the present day. Every sense of every word containing f**k is examined, with often hilarious examples from many sources.