I teach Remedial Irony 101. Please send in your tuition without delay.
Hmm, I only know them as equally unwanted, very real and annoying pains; not so much as figures of speech.
My observation is that previously coarse language becomes more commonplace at about the same rate as it loses its coarseness. Forty years ago, I would never have used the words “ass hat” or “pain in the butt” in a public forum.
Developmentally speaking, we (humans) are Deuterostomes (which means that the mouth is the second opening to form), pain in the neck would not have come first.
[Then again, the nervous system doesn’t form until after both major openings are formed — No brain – no pain.]
I doubt that ‘butt’ was the noun initially used…
Zounds, that’s an interesting question.
Neither! It was Cleopatra who coined the original phrase: “Pain in the asp” but it got misunderstood and evolved from there. She also originated the phrase “He’s so dumb, he couldn’t find his asp with both hands”, but again, the phrase changed over time.
Looks like Frazz knows one when he sees one… :)
Mrs. Olsen is too subtle for Caulfield, sharp as he is. In the competition between age and youth, experience often tilts in favor of the seasoned mind.
What constitutes crude vs. polite speech is in the minds of the hearers. It is just as easy to say something is “all fouled up” or “fouled up beyond all recognition” as it is to say the versions that are regarded as crude and coarse. The real issue is what we are trying to tell others about ourselves. There is nothing intrinsically foul or coarse about any of the utterances we are capable of forming. However, our choices make an impression on our listeners, and they label us in their minds accordingly.
Interesting. Three days ago, I posted a comment asking whether a kid like Caulfield would “give a rat’s a$$ about context.” Looked the next day and saw that it had been removed.
Was the person who flagged it offended by one three-letter word? I doubt it. More likely to have been the work of the cowards who have boasted on this forum about flagging every comment written by someone they don’t like, no matter what their content.
The English word “bull” to mean falsehoods has been around for centuries, but around WWI a compound word with a vulgarity affixed to it came into use amongst Americans. Which suggests a coarsening trend. But from that we got “bullcrap” and “B.S.” which suggest the opposite trend.
Now if you use “bull” this way in America, people will mentally add another syllable.
It works both ways; some people deliberately coarsen their language while others deliberately euphemize.
The odd thing about “pain in the neck” is that it’s not just a euphemism but a real thing: people under stress tend to tense their neck muscles, eventually leading to real pain there. Since being diagnosed with neck compression a quarter-century ago (likely from working at a desk or a computer all day), I spend 10 minutes doing neck stretches before bed.
“Neck” seems to have come first as far as documentation, but only by about 10 years. But even that is uncertain:= = =Phrase give (someone) a pain “be annoying and irritating” is by 1895; as a noun, localized as pain in the neck (1924) and pain in the ass (1934), though this last might have gone long unrecorded and be the original sense and the others euphemisms.
My wife watches home improvement shows. You’ve seen them. Pros come in and rehab a home and then the owners are shown the results at the end.
I’ve noticed that when they express their surprise and delight, the homeowners frequently use the same “OMG” phrase. But what happens is, they feel the natural impulse to say, “Oh, my god!” but then they realize that TV cameras are rolling so they change that last word to “gosh.” Often, however, they’re too late, so we hear, “Oh, my gottsch!”
Listen for it. You won’t be waiting for it long.
Paraphrasing Benny Hill: “My wife says he’s a pain in the neck; I have a much lower opinion.”
Many years ago a Mr. Kimball said Profanity is the effort of a feeble brain to express itself forcibly. That might have been true. Now it appears that more profanity than ever is used and in more unaccustomed settings by people once believed more thoughtful than that.
Wonder if it’s because the increasingly rapid deterioration in the quality of education simply has found its ultimate iteration, i.e., fewer well phrased or thoughtful speeches, lots of single and double syllable vocabularies, quick flashes to anger, personal insults: all signs of more attention to the surfaces of issues than to their depths? H-m-m-m-m
Severity matters. You might spank a pain in the butt, but you might want to stretch a pain in the neck.
He claims not to have an "ear for sarcasm while also recognizing it as sarcasm , or is he trying to decide if it was sarcasm ?
Netflix original series: History of Swear Words, hosted by Nicolas Cage
to sweep, perchance to clean, ah there’s the rub
When I sanitize my words and thoughts, I always use Tide!
Jef Mallett’s Blog Posts
Frazz15 hrs · To this day. after much pondering, I still don’t have a clue how I’d answer Caulfield’s question. I do know that foul language is often lazy speech or writing. I also know that foul language is not always lazy, and I enjoy a well-done, creative, passionate blue streak mightily.
I’ve always been amazed at the power we grant to slightly different arrangements of vowels and consonants. And I’m especially amazed by how much power we give words while giving an altogether unwarranted free ride to tone of voice.
We can talk about actions later.
The many layers of this comic!
Nuisance is a fine example of a word that has taken on a weakened meaning. It has been in use in English since the 15th century, and for much of that time signified “harm” or “injury” rather than mere “annoyance” (the word came into our language from French, but it can be traced back to the Latin nocēre, meaning “to harm”). In the early 19th century nuisance began to see considerable use in reference to people or things that were obnoxious rather than injurious, and that meaning has become the prevalent one. We retain evidence of the word’s earlier “harm” sense, however, in the legal term attractive nuisance, which refers to an enticing thing or condition (such as an unattended ladder leaning against a house) that might attract a child and cause them injury.
History and Etymology for sarcasmearlier sarcasmus, borrowed from Middle French or Late Latin; Middle French sarcasme, borrowed from Late Latin sarcasmos “mockery,” borrowed from Late Greek sarkasmós, from Greek sarkázein “to jeer at while biting the lips” (in GALEN; perhaps, if the original sense was “to bite or strip off flesh,” derivative of sark-, sárx “flesh”) + -smos, suffix of verbal action
July 31, 2013