CURSING IN FINNISH.

A post at Stæfcræft & Vyākaraṇa quotes a sputtering Linus Torvalds:

There aren’t enough swear-words in the English language, so now I’ll
have to call you perkeleen vittupää just to express my disgust and
frustration with this crap.

…and explicates the Finnish phrase perkeleen vittupää semantically and etymologically. Right up my alley, so I’m pointing you in its direction. Too hot to post more… brain melting…

Comments

  1. Christopher Culver says:

    Torvalds is a Finland Swede, so I was surprised to read this new. After asking around, I’ve heard that Finland Swedes often curse only in Finnish. The reason is usually given that Finnish curses are more expressive or whatever, but to me this seems like another sign of the death of Finland Swedish as the community is slowly assimilated to the Finnish-speaking majority. (I see this with the Mari, too, they curse only in Russian, having lost that part of their lexicon.)

  2. A Reader says:

    I think you meant “explains”.
    But I guess you’re American, so any combination of letters will do.

  3. Trond Engen says:

    I don’t necessarily think it’s a sign of imminent death, but rather of uneven bilingualism. Not long ago I spoke to a Lithuanian welder who told me that Lithuanians do their swearing in Russian since that’s so much more suited for expletives. That may not be true for all Lithuanians all the time, but it was for him and his crew. Also, American English sexual swearing is spreading everywhere.

  4. Note that the most vulgar part of the curse, “vittu”, appears to actually derive from Swedish – which raises interesting general questions regarding Finnish swearing.
    There’s a bit on Torvalds linguistic background here: http://www.muktware.com/news/2857/which-linus-torvalds%E2%80%99-native-language-finnish-or-swedish

  5. I don’t think it’s any more American than it is Australian, British etc., is it Trond?

  6. Trond Engen says:

    In English? No, probably not. As a source for worldwide borrowing? Oh, definitely.

  7. Oh. I see what you mean.

  8. I think you meant “explains”.
    But I guess you’re American, so any combination of letters will do.

    Thank you for your gracious attempt to spread enlightenment, but the first definition of explicate in Merriam-Webster is “to give a detailed explanation of,” so I think I’m in the clear.

  9. J.W. Brewer says:

    Since the “grammatical diversity” thread has been closed due to spam conditions, let me make an off-topic point here: viz., that I am mildly disappointed that the Yale project’s database only has two usage datapoints from New Haven itself, one of which dates from the 1790′s (and is evidence for the proposition that at that time the “go a-fishing” construction was still acceptable in the formal register of Standard AmEng), and the other of which is an instance of the “so don’t I” construction, which I do not recall ever experiencing myself in the wild.
    To be fair, the point of the website is apparently to assemble in one conveniently-usable place data from multiple prior researchers, not (at least primarily) brand-new research.

  10. I suppose this happens often among bilingual minorities, mainly because swearing is usually picked up from peers in adolescence. I also cannot swear in my mother tongue because I only ever use it with my parents and elder relatives.

  11. tetri_tolia says:

    So much for Bill Bryson’s ravintolassa!

  12. David Marjanović says:

    Also, American English sexual swearing is spreading everywhere.

    Quite. Fuck has found a niche in German: it expresses that you’re outraged at the situation – Scheiße implies a catastrophe instead. The emphatic particle fucking has similarly begun to spread, because German used to lack one entirely.
    Never mind special cases like all the Viennese swearing that’s calqued from Czech.

  13. David Marjanović says:

    (Or actually from weird mixtures of Czech, Slovak and Hungarian.)

  14. Another feather in the cap of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

  15. My daughter, who has no German, has picked up Scheiße from somewhere, and uses it in place of Shit in front of her 4-year-old son. So far he has shown no inclination to use either form.

  16. The emphatic particle fucking has similarly begun to spread, because German used to lack one entirely.
    Eine doch ziemlich unvorsichtige Behauptung. An jeder Scheiß Ecke ja begegnet man emphatischen Partikeln. Es war schon immer so.

  17. My Mishar Tatar friend grew up in Moscow speaking mostly Russian, but cognizant of a large number of Tatar words. When she finally went to spend grade school summer break in her parents’ native village, she had to communicate solely in Tatar for the first time in her life, and made liberal use of Tatar sex-words. The grownups were appalled and told her that these Tatar words really mean what they mean; but for cursing, there are Russian words of the same meaning. “We curse in Russian, don’t ever translate it into Tatar again”.
    Interestingly, f*ing doesn’t exist in Russian either, although it’s very rich in f-word-derivatives. Presumably the cause is that the *active* participle doesn’t cut it in russian. Do be a swearword, the intercourse-action has to be *passive* (as in fairly un-English f*ed)

  18. In his philosophical works, Heidegger used the everyday emphatic expression immer schon almost as a term of art. I won’t try to explain the context of that. I merely want to point out that immer schon corresponds in English sentences to things like “[has] always [been]“, “simply always”, “for donkey’s years”, “for fucking ever”, “it has ever been so” etc etc.
    English-speaking commentators on Heidegger who have little German are unaware that immer schon (and schon immer) are trivial bits of German. They have dreamed up an English term of art to match: “always-already”. How stupid is that ?

  19. (as in fairly un-English f*ed)
    Actually, ‘fucked’ is used often enough in English.
    E.g.:
    He’s fucked in the head.
    We’re fucked.
    Get fucked!

  20. How stupid is that ?
    Very stupid. I don’t understand why there still aren’t any good translations into English of Heidegger (or Sloterdijk). Is there no money in it, or what? Maybe JK Rowling could do it under another name and then let everyone know.

  21. No money, and – judging by the reception I have been favored with here when I have mentioned bits of Sloterdijk and Luhmann – neither clue nor interest. Before the public will buy, the ideas of these writers may need to be packaged in human-touch plots by Rowling or Cartland.
    I’m still wondering whether David meant that German “entirely” lacked an emphatic particle, or only an emphatic particle associated with screwing. In the latter case, I don’t see that the language lacked such a thing in the sense that it would be more perfecter if it had one. Men lack tits, and women lack bits, but surely this not a situation crying out to be remedied ?

  22. There’s neither clue nor interest because they’re such rotten translations. It would need the enthusiasm of someone who’d read the German to make it happen.
    Maybe he would consider ‘immer schon’ too specific compared to ‘fucking’.

  23. My Mishar Tatar friend grew up in Moscow speaking mostly Russian, but cognizant of a large number of Tatar words. When she finally went to spend grade school summer break in her parents’ native village, she had to communicate solely in Tatar for the first time in her life, and made liberal use of Tatar sex-words. The grownups were appalled and told her that these Tatar words really mean what they mean; but for cursing, there are Russian words of the same meaning. “We curse in Russian, don’t ever translate it into Tatar again”.
    I don’t understand this. How did she learn those words in the first place? Did her parents teach her all the Tatar curse words without explaining that they were curse words? If she just overheard her parents saying them, did she somehow not use them around her parents (despite thinking they were perfectly OK to use) and then for some reason start spewing them liberally in the village, or did her parents think it was cute that she used them and therefore didn’t correct her? A strange story.

  24. In his philosophical works, Heidegger used the everyday emphatic expression immer schon almost as a term of art.
    A lot depends on your “almost.” If he was in fact using it as a term of art, then it makes sense to translate it differently than you’d translate it in a colloquial context. Is it your position that it would make no difference to the understanding of Heidegger if it were translated as “always” throughout?

  25. I don’t understand this. How did she learn those words in the first place? Did her parents teach her all the Tatar curse words without explaining that they were curse words? If she just overheard her parents saying them, did she somehow not use them around her parents (despite thinking they were perfectly OK to use) and then for some reason start spewing them liberally in the village, or did her parents think it was cute that she used them and therefore didn’t correct her?
    LH, sorry if I tangled it up. As a child, she was a legacy Tatar speaker with a very limited vocabulary but of course she knew translations of Russian swearwords to Tatar. I really don’t think kids pick this stuff from the parents – isn’t it the same in all cultures? As a kid, you learn it in the ‘hood, from other kids, from sibs and cousins, anything of that sort but not from the parents, right?
    So in Moscow, she grew up among Tatars and socialized with Tatars but spoke Russian (with occasional Tatar bits and pieces), and cursed exclusively in Russian. But in the village, she had to switch 100% to Tatar in daily communication, and without a 2nd thought she translated her swearwords to 100% Tatar too. The villagers weren’t amused. For them these words were dirty, literal, and totally inappropriate; for cursing, there were Russian erstwhile equivalents instead.
    Since your story made it clear that Finnish translations of English swearword come across as literal and inappropriate in public speech, but English swearwords are just fine for cursing, I vividly remembered this Mishar village tale.
    ‘fucked’ is used often enough in English
    that’s why I used the word “fairly”. Uses like FUBAR exist of course, but the active participle form predominates, while in Russian the situation is absolutely the opposite.

  26. Is it your position that it would make no difference to the understanding of Heidegger if it were translated as “always” throughout?
    Yes, that is my position – with caveats.
    Like the texts of many unusual writers, his are much more than mere grammatically correct assemblies of words as if of Lego components. You can’t disassemble the whole, replace individual German words or expressions by English ones, then reassemble them according to English grammar – and thereby obtain an easily intelligible text.
    Heidegger’s words and expressions have meanings and associations that interlock very tightly – making them easier to understand intuitively (although when you think about it, the intuitiveness may vanish as you conclude: “This is nonsense”). Individual words and expressions may have more-or-less adequate counterparts “cold out of the English dictionary”, but when they are reassembled their connotations don’t interlock in the same way as the German “originals”. This is where “emphatic particles” become indispensable.
    This kind of thing makes it hard to render Heidegger into English off the bat, for a non-professional translator of philosophy such as myself. “Always” will do for immer schon initially, but I feel some kind of technical term or expression not too far away from “always”, some kind of emphatic “always” might help the reader more. Over the course of the text, special connotations must be polished to a shine.
    In any case, “always-already” helps nobody to understand anything.
    Translating Heidegger would be a Gesamtlebenskunstwerk kind of undertaking. I don’t value his stuff enough to undertake such a thing. I’ve also backed off from translating Luhmann, because even mild paraphrases of his ideas – such as I have occasionally set out here – met with cries of outrage and flights of tetchiness. Not because of the language, I think, but because of the ideas.

  27. Well what about Sloterdijk? I never noticed outrage at Luhrmann’s ideas but maybe I was off sick that day.

  28. - Sorry about the R. I can’t help myself.

  29. Are you U, Crown ? The rhotic stuff ?
    It just occurred to me that, in terms of simple pluggability, “all along” is better than nothing for immer schon, at least in many contexts of everyday speech.

  30. Since forever? Or is that too colloquial?

  31. J.W. Brewer says:

    Is Heidegger translated worse than prior German philosophers? Or is he just translated into a particular register/style of English that was developed in the 19th c. by translators of Kant/Hegel/Schopenhauer/whoever that thus Anglophone readers came to expect, even if one would consider it highly suboptimal if starting on a clean slate? (Nietzsche might be different, whether you admire or detest W. Kaufmann, because he is understood to have a very different approach – less ponderous, more epigrammatic – and it is expected that that feel will come through in English.) I have read that Germans think of Freud as an elegant prose stylist, even though the approach taken by those who translated his works into English (with, again, the first couple attempts establishing a baseline sense of how Freud-in-English is supposed to sound) would never give you that impression.

  32. Holy shit, there’s even a WiPe article about “always-already”. Ignorance of basic German has grown into an industry of judicious gibberish.
    The article has a single sentence that gives some idea of what Heidegger is getting at in sentences in which he uses the trivial German expression immer schon:

    Similarly, the modern subject has “always already” learned a language, so in a certain sense it is inconceivable to consider the pre-linguistic subject.

    Everything else in the article is Quatsch mit Soße. For example:

    The phrase was used by Marx with regard to capital, and was later repopularized by Heidegger. Marx’s use was preceded by Kant in Critique of Pure Reason [A346=B404].

    As if one were to say: “The word ‘the’ was used by Marx with regard to A Day At The Races, and was later repopularized by inhabitants of The Big Apple. Marx’s use was preceded by King James in The Bible”.

  33. Am I U? As opposed to non-U? I’m certainly non-rhotic. I’m not sure the U & non-U distinction still works. I think my family was on right side of the U line 50 years ago, but nowadays that would probably make me Disgusted, of Tunbridge Wells, a Tory – or even worse, a member of the Ukip party. It’s nothing to boast about.

  34. J:W: I myself wouldn’t venture an opinion, since I have read almost nothing by a German philosopher in an English translation – apart from bits of Nietzsche and Heidegger, just to see what up.
    The big problem with Heidegger is that the intelligibility of his works – quite apart from whether he is “right or wrong” about this or that – is strongly dependent on a reader’s receptiveness to … well, puns, to put it bluntly. Word games. Another such work is Max Steiner’s 1848 (ca) Der Einzige und sein Eigentum.

  35. Dmitry Pruss (aka MOCKBA): Thanks, I get it now!

  36. Some Russian curses are popular in Poland. The swearwords in question are cognate to our own, but somehow Russian imparts greater expressive force to them.

  37. David Marjanović says:

    I’m enjoying this discussion (except for the stomach cramps caused by the Pffft article on always-already), but I’m far too tired to add to it right now. I’ll be back (as Austrians have immer schon been saying) tomorrow. Just so much…
    Some Russian curses are popular in Poland.
    Somewhere I once read that chuj, extremely popular in some circles, is an outright loan from Russian, and that only fiut is native.
    …which would bring me to the intriguing question of /f/ in Polish, except I’m too tired for that, too. :-)

  38. Marx’s use was preceded by Kant in Critique of Pure Reason
    In some 19th century thing I recently read, the title of a contemporary translation of the book was Critique of True Reason. Velly interesting, or ?!

  39. I learnt pizda from a Yugoslav many years ago. I wasn’t too surprised when I found that the Mongolians knew it too.

  40. David: Somewhere I once read that chuj, extremely popular in some circles, is an outright loan from Russian, and that only fiut is native.
    But Pol. chuj is attested already in the 15th c., when Russian loans were very rare, so the chances are that it’s a respectable Proto-Slavic word (incredibly, Vasmer’s etymological dictionary of Russian omits it). There were also rather obvious Polish derivatives like chujec ‘boar’. Older Polish used several non-euphemistic synonyms, mostly abandoned now, e.g. pyje. Fiut, however, acquired its current meaning quite recently, and is a relatively young onomatopoeic word (originally ‘a whistling sound’ -> ‘a whistle’ -> you know what).

  41. incredibly, Vasmer’s etymological dictionary of Russian omits it
    Are you quite sure of that? It would surprise me a great deal, since he included ебать and пизда. The bowdlerized Soviet edition, of course, omits all three, and that (for reasons of pocketbook) is the only one I own; Google Books won’t allow even a snippet view of Vol. 3 of the original German edition, but if you google [vasmer etymologisches wörterbuch хуй] you get a hit for “Russisches etymologisches Wörterbuch – Volume 3 – Page 238,” so I’m reasonably sure it’s in there. (And of course if anyone has access to it, we’d all be curious to know what it says.)

  42. ху́й G хуя́ ‘membrum virile’. Wird als Ablautform zu хвоя́ ‘Nadeln, Zweige der
    Nadelhölzer’ (s.d.) gestellt und verglichen mit lit. skujà ‘Tannennadel’, lett.
    skuja ‘Tannenzweig’, evtl. auch alb. hu ‘Pfahl, membrum virile’, best. geg.
    huni, tosk. huri, s. Pedersen Jagić-Festschr. 218 ff., Berneker EW. 1, 408,
    Barić Alb. Stud, 1, 29, Lehmann KZ. 41, 394, Iljinskij IORJ. 20, 3, 103. Dagegen ohne
    genügenden Grund Uhlenbeck IF. 17, 98, Petersson KZ. 46, 145.

  43. Thank you!

  44. I do have Berneker (Slavisches etymologisches Wörterbuch Vol. 1, 1908), who says on p. 408 s.v. chvoja: “Ablautend (*(s)qhouι̯os) hierher vielleicht r. ху́й, G. хуя́, pl. хуи́ ‘penis’. Dagegen ohne genügenden Grund Uhlenbeck IF. 17, 98.”

  45. Thanks, Juha! I own no copy of the German original.

  46. David Marjanović says:

    From the Aranese thread:

    “the knight without fear of reproach” (an attempt to render le chevalier sans peur et sans reproche).

    Interesting. In German, der Ritter ohne Furcht und Tadel is old enough that Tadel has in the meantime shifted its meaning from that which should be criticized to the criticism itself.
    I guess there are implications for Standard Average European. :-)
    Obligatory: der Ritter ohne Furcht und Adel, “the knight without fear or nobility”.
    From this thread:

    The emphatic particle fucking has similarly begun to spread, because German used to lack one entirely.
    Eine doch ziemlich unvorsichtige Behauptung.

    That’s more like “rather” and “more like”.

    An jeder Scheiß Ecke ja begegnet man emphatischen Partikeln.

    That expresses more contempt/anger/hate than fucking; it’s more like motherfucking. I don’t know, but I bet Scheiß- was used to translate “I’ve had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane”.

    Es war schon immer so.

    That’s not emphasis, it’s aspect. Es war immer so would quite literally mean “it always was that way – and isn’t anymore”. Schon immer expresses “it has always been” because the tenses can’t do that; switching to “es ist immer so gewesen” would not help.
    So, I maintain that an analog to English fucking, which simply puts boldface on the following word or syllable, or Russian же, which simply puts boldface on the preceding word (and may be used in polite company), is absent from German. German fucking has particles, but none for fucking emphasis.

    Heidegger’s words and expressions have meanings and associations that interlock very tightly – making them easier to understand intuitively (although when you think about it, the intuitiveness may vanish as you conclude: “This is nonsense”).

    Seconded.

    Translating Heidegger would be a Gesamtlebenskunstwerk kind of undertaking.

    + 1

    I have read that Germans think of Freud as an elegant prose stylist, even though the approach taken by those who translated his works into English [...] would never give you that impression.

    Freud deliberately tried to avoid jargon, so he coined the few terms he thought he needed to coin in German rather than Latin or Greek: most famously das Es, das Ich, das Über-Ich. What did the English translators do? Translate those terms into Latin: id, ego, superego. *headdesk*

    But Pol. chuj is attested already in the 15th c. [...]

    Oh! Thank you!
    Poor Uhlenbeck Without Sufficient Reason.

  47. David Marjanović says:

    Yeah, I’m not legally sane this weekend. Apart from the borkquote, I put <b> tags in the wrong place – here’s the fixed version:

    Schon immer expresses “it has always been” because the tenses can’t do that; switching to “es ist immer so gewesen” would not help.

    (The only difference between “es war immer so” and “es ist immer so gewesen” is consecutio temporum: in Standard German you’d use the former in a narrative, the latter when you’re looking at the past explicitly from the point of view of the present. Both mean exactly the same and strongly imply “it’s over”.)

  48. That expresses more contempt/anger/hate than fucking; it’s more like motherfucking.
    The Samuel Jackson quote was translated “Ich hab langsam die Schnauze voll von diesen beschissenen Schlangen in diesem beschissenen piss Flugzeug”, which to my ears sounds wholly inadequate. In my idiolect of Englsih beschissen- is maybe the equivalent of fucking in terms of emphasis. And it’s nowhere near strong enough to mean “motherfucking”. That is the problem with translating swearwords, it’s very hard to match equivalent offensiveness levels across cultures or even social classes. To accurately capture the transgressive offense in German that people from my rural hometown in the US would feel upon hearing “motherfucking snakes” the equivalent German might have to be something like “Saujudische Schlangen”, i.e. truly offensive and transgressive.

  49. David Marjanović says:

    Ich hab langsam die Schnauze voll

    Langsam? Slowly? “I’m slowly getting fed up”? Jesus Haploid Christ.
    Beschissen works for me, though. It definitely has the advantage of being longer – very important for dubbing.

    To accurately capture the transgressive offense in German that people from my rural hometown in the US would feel upon hearing

    *contracts*
    *slowly backs down*
    *approaches the door backwards*
    …Yeah, I don’t think the rural US is what Hollywood has in mind… it’s more like LA and NYC…

  50. Hmm, my comment to Dmitry got lost, apparently. It was to the effect that it’s not surprising that Russians don’t swear with the present active participle, as it is entirely borrowed from Church Slavonic.

  51. …Yeah, I don’t think the rural US is what Hollywood has in mind… it’s more like LA and NYC…
    It’s a “teen vs. adult” split more than rural vs. city. Younger people across the USA are increasingly more tolerant of obscenity, and less tolerant of racial , homophobic or other slurs against identity than their parents (e.g. the word “retarded”, the most common epithet we used as kids growing up, is quickly becoming taboo). Still I find that, maybe thanks to Hollywood, foreigners often drastically overestimate just how tolerant the average American is to hearing obscenities in everyday speech. If you go around using “fucking” for emphasis in any social situation other than being with your peers, people will still find you pretty crass, even in LA and NYC.

  52. Actually David, if you’re talking about emphasis, “fucking” is a loaded word when English has dozens of other words capable of the exact same function ranging from straight up euphemisms like “frigging” and “flipping” to even more obscene like “cocksucking” (especially if you’re a Deadwood fan), to “stupid”, a word kids use a lot, to “son-of-a bitch/sumbitch” (now a little old fashioned I think as a word for “boldfacing”), to “bloody” in British English to plain old “goddamn/damn/darn”, and probably dozens more. But these terms aren’t helpful in philosophic writing, unlike Rusian же, because even the mildest euphemisms like “darn” are considered improper for high-minded writing. So formal written English shares the same missing particle as German.

  53. Trond Engen says:

    My experience with borrowed curses like shit and fucking is that they are weaker than in the original. As such, they may fill a sociolinguistic rather than a sementic niche: They retain expressivity and in-group credibility without the offensiveness of native counterparts. When I was young in Bergen I knew nice girls of old families who were putting føkkings before every other word even with their parents and grandparents listening.
    Related: We also borrow polite phrases. Please and sorry were old when I was a kid, so they’ve been in Norwegian for many decades. And they’re more easily thrown around than their native counterparts. Plis (plis, plis, plis, plis, pliiiis!) is said by children nagging to achieve something. Sorry is definitely not the hardest word to say — it’s used when you can’t bring yourself to a sincere apology. English I love you in a Norwegian context sounded stupid when I grew up, but I’ve been told that it’s gaining ground, since the emotion is easier to express in English, at least for teenagers with commitment issues.

  54. Sorry is definitely not the hardest word to say — it’s used when you can’t bring yourself to a sincere apology.
    Heh. I have chastised many a German for doing that. But do they change their ways, and return to offering sincere apologies in German ? They do not.
    It’s not surprising. In non-English-speaking societies, the English word “sorry” plays a useful role as invisible ashes. You can heap it on your head and yet save face.
    Actually, even English speakers who say “sorry” are using invisible ashes. It’s just that there is a convention that they are visible – like the Emperor’s new clothes.
    Without these conventions, we would have to perform seppuku as unmistakable proof of repentance.

  55. Although seppuku proves nothing either, except by convention. Hmmm… I have the feeling that not all conventions are arrived at by unconventional means.

  56. Although seppuku proves nothing either
    Sofukkyu!
    Israelis also like to slip bits of English – especially naughty bits – into their Hebrew speech, and they’ll write them phonetically too. ‘Sorry’ is definitely in, as is ‘shit.’ ‘Fuck’ is heard fairly often but I don’t recall it in writing. They’ve calqued ‘go fuck yourself’ by employing a hitherto unused reflexive form of a verb meaning to fornicate. Not sure if it’s due to the multitude of biblical begats, but the root and its offspring rate five separate Strong’s Numbers: 2181, 2185, 2183, 2184, and 8457. Brown-Driver-Briggs has close to a page on it. For the curious the root is zana / זנה.

  57. Grumbly: Sloterdijk is now being translated, but how good these are I have no idea.
    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/113387/peter-sloterdijks-philosophy-gives-reasons-living#

  58. Thanks a lot, Paul ! From the quotes, it sounds like the English translations are not that bad. Quite a lot of his work has been translated into Spanish.
    Seeing what other translators have done with Sloterdijk, it becomes easier to accept his stylis tics for what they are – like those of Heidegger, whose onto-whatever-it-is rests on a foundation of heavy-duty German puns.
    Because what Sloterdijk says is so interesting, I am willing to ignore the diamonds-and-furs style he often deploys – the one I associate with rich Met-subscribing old dames in NYC.

  59. Dammit, strike “deploys” and read “employs” instead. One is infested with buzz-phrases.

  60. Trond Engen says:

    Obviously, even a thoroughly Norwegian apology can be completely empty, but you’re supposed to mean it, so insincerity comes with a cost. What sorry provides is guilt-free emptiness.

  61. David Marjanović says:

    it’s not surprising that Russians don’t swear with the present active participle, as it is entirely borrowed from Church Slavonic.

    Oh.

    It’s a “teen vs. adult” split more than rural vs. city.

    Of course; and what I really had in mind was liberal vs. Bible Belt (keeping in mind that lots and lots of places claim to be its buckle). I’m sorry (heh), it was too late at night… as it is now.

    the word “retarded”, the most common epithet we used as kids growing up, is quickly becoming taboo

    Yes, though I keep coming across people on the Internet who don’t even know this and use -tard as a productive suffix till they’re called out.

    “stupid”, a word kids use a lot

    Ooh, that reminds me: Stupidly large snakes, the story so far. But that does mean “unbelievably”, “crazily”, not just “very”.

    English I love you in a Norwegian context sounded stupid when I grew up, but I’ve been told that it’s gaining ground, since the emotion is easier to express in English, at least for teenagers with commitment issues.

    Interesting.

  62. Stupidly large snakes
    “Stupendously”, perhaps, vaguely remembered by a vocab tard ?

  63. David Marjanović says:

    “Stupendously”, perhaps, vaguely remembered by a vocab tard ?

    Would greatly surprise me in this case, because I know the author.

  64. Trond Engen says:

    DM: Interesting.
    But losing much of its appeal when I tell that I’ve never heard it in the wild. Or, now I realize that I have, but in a very different setting: On an award show a couple of years ago when a trio of TV comedians received a lifetime achievement award. One of them was in hospital at the time, terminally ill, and naturally this was the main focus of the improvised speech held by the two others. They ended up finishing with “We love you!”.

  65. Would greatly surprise me in this case, because I know the author.
    I didn’t mean the author. I assumed his title was just playing around with “stupidly X” as an already existing variant of “‘stupid’, a word kids use a lot”.

  66. Perhaps (and I do hate this sort of no-evidence etymological speculation, but what the hell) ‘beautiful enough to make you stupid when you look at it’.

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