Kurvafix!

Jonathan Bousfield’s essay on the “almost unknown” Czech underground writer and philosopher Egon Bondy is long and interesting from a sociological perspective, though Bondy doesn’t sound like my kind of writer (“he wrote a tremendous amount, but never appeared to edit”) or my kind of person (he collaborated with the secret police, and yes, I know these things were complicated). But he did invent a great swear word, for whose sake I will quote the beginning of the essay:

Nobody could write about beer and sausages with quite as much spiritual devotion as the Czech novelist Bohumil Hrabal. One of Hrabal’s most famously beer-soaked scenes comes from the 1973 novel Nežny Barbar (The Tender Barbarian), in which a character named Egon (based on Hrabal’s real-life colleague Egon Bondy) lovingly smears the foam from a half-litre of beer all over Hrabal’s face.

Written in 1973, Nežny Barbar is the largely autobiographical account of a three-way friendship between Hrabal, Bondy and painter Vladimir Boudnik in the early Fifties. It was a time when they led a vagabond, bar-crawling existence on the fringes of a society just waking up to the realities of communist power. Filmed in 1990, it is a story that many Czechs remember for Egon’s repeated use of the expression Kurvafix!, a term the real-life Bondy invented by stitching together “kurva” (“whore”) and “crucifix” to create a swearword of comic absurdity. “Crucifuck!” might serve as a freely-translated English alternative.

There is also mention of U dvou slunců, where I may well have had a beer when I was wandering the Malá Strana district of Prague a couple of decades ago. Thanks, Trevor!

Comments

  1. A true Bohemian.

  2. Among the hodgepodge of Yiddish, Russian and made-up vocabulary inherited from my father’s side of the family, we use a word – meaning “womanizer” – that I’d fancifully render as courvariste. I think my grandmother may have coined it.

  3. David Marjanović says:

    I don’t think there’s anything unexpected about saying “Kurva! Fix!” in a row. Free-standing Fix!, or rather followed by “once more”, used to be all over Bavarian.

    courvariste

    That, on the other hand, is a stroke of genius.

  4. I call bullshit. First, what David said: the Czechs have been using -fix as a suffix in curse words for ages. Second, the word appears in earlier sources, like this Slovak one from 1970. But it’s just like Bondy to make this claim, that guy was an epitome of a pretentious and insufferable intellectual.

  5. Also, kurvafix nicely fits into a pattern of compounding or deriving new words from kurva, such as kurvadrát (where drát = wire) or kurvaperkele. That last one is the result of international cooperation between Nikola Š, Perttu H. and myself during my semester in Jyväskylä back in 2000. It all started when one day as we were hanging out, Perttu asked Nikola and me: “That word you guys keep using in like every sentence, kur… kurva, yeah, that’s it, what does it mean?”

  6. See, if it weren’t for you guys I’d believe all the crap I read on the internet.

  7. And yeah, Bondy does sound insufferable.

  8. J.W. Brewer says:

    The proposed English calque is itself not novel, and was inter alia the name of a third- or fourth-rate punk-rock band several decades ago. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crucifucks.

  9. J.W. Brewer says:

    Separately, I spent a little while puzzling as to why Bondy’s name rang a distant bell, before figuring out it was his namesake/lyricist presence on this legendary-in-some-quarters album: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egon_Bondy's_Happy_Hearts_Club_Banned. Perhaps Bondy was tasked by the secret police to hang out with the rock and roll wing of the dissident intelligentsia in order to inform on them?

  10. J.W. Brewer says:

    [OK, I see now that that connection of Bondy’s is indeed mentioned in the piece linked above, although one needs to persevere through a lot of scrolling-down to get to it. My apologies for providing redundant information for the more perseverant Hattics.]

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