The fu** word – a rose by any other name?

This highlights the meanings of words:

Zarina Yamaguchi, a friend of a friend, was thinking “pretty damn funny” when she snapped this picture on January 4th. Zarina explains:

Well, a childhood friend of mine and I were strolling along the local street in Shinsaibashi, Osaka. Being around the extra-genki Osaka-jins and salesladies screaming ‘Irashaimasse’ from every direction for the ongoing New Year Sales has never made us feel more at home. On our way to catch up over coffee, I walked into this store to check some things. Truth is, I didn’t even notice the posters. When I looked around, each corner had posters that printed ‘fucking sale’. I didn’t know how to react but what caught me by surprise was that none of the people around me seem to understand the profanity. My friend Sarah and I, both of mixed Japanese descent, both bilingual in Japanese and English, were struck with the comical twist. Pretty sure I would have never seen this elsewhere, I had to snap a shot.

I had a similar thing in Russia.  My gf told me to f*** off one evening and then observed my reaction.  As I can’t write the word in full, even now, I was mortified by it coming from her, which interested her mightily.  She made moves to calm me and then explained that to her, it was just letters making a word.  Of course she knew the effect it had and how it was used in western culture, how it was used to punctuate conversation and so on but she herself had no emotional attachment to the word.

She’d just told me to f*** off to see what would happen.  Actually, she was disagreeing with me refusing to take her to the shop, I seem to recall.

I had my own turn when I learnt some jargon and said to a Russian I wanted to go away: “Po’shol von”, which literally means “you have gone there”.  I couldn’t see the problem.  When my mate who was trying to teach me high Russian heard that he went spare, explaining just how bad it was, saying it was fighting talk to a Russian and saying I was lucky to be in one piece.

As my gf had said – it’s just words but then again, it’s more than that.  Strange how certain words have such emotional and social connotations.  I was taught by a senior Chinese student to say “sao lon pey” and that would shut a couple of unruly students up who were giving a bit of aggro.

It did but whether it was that they were not expecting anything so shocking from me or that I could only have known that from one of their seniors of the mafia type, I don’t know.  Another Chinese told me later that it meant “shut the f*** up”.  So I should have checked first but what is done is done.

The Japanese clearly don’t see the issue.

12 Responses to “The fu** word – a rose by any other name?”

  1. Moggsy January 10, 2012 at 12:28 Permalink

    I think it can be true even between the US and UK use of some words or combinations. They just don’t always seem to carry the insult properly. I could say the words I am thinking but I won’t

    As for chinese and english? How much would being called a bicycle riding something upset. It would be more tee-heee.

  2. James Higham January 10, 2012 at 17:27 Permalink

    I could say the words I am thinking but I won’t

    Go on Moggsy – don’t be shy. :)

  3. BobG January 10, 2012 at 20:30 Permalink

    Reminds me of an occasion several years ago while working with a Swiss-German engineer. I could understand some German, he could understand some English, so we managed to communicate. Once when working with a welder, he made the mistake of giving the engineer the “OK” hand sign. Among German speakers, this means “a$$hole”, so you can imagine the engineer’s reaction until I was able to get the meaning across that the welder was not calling him names.

  4. CherryPie January 10, 2012 at 21:48 Permalink

    I always have a problem with the French Connection UK clothing logo…

  5. Moggsy January 11, 2012 at 06:45 Permalink

    James.. You want me to talk dirty? ^_^

    I got this from a Guy at Camp America (nothing to do with gayness) UK words for a “self abuser” beginning with W and T didn’t seem to do much more than amuse.

  6. ubermouth January 11, 2012 at 08:09 Permalink

    I don’t understand what the fuck you’re all talking about when you don’t actually say the effing word !!! :)

  7. ubermouth January 11, 2012 at 08:11 Permalink

    The word fuck is an acronym from the old days when serfs needed permission to fornicate. if granted a hotel type sign was placed on their doorknob which read ‘ F.U.C.K’ which meant Fornication Under Consent Of The King. Usually only granted when couples wanted t try for a baby.

  8. Moggsy January 13, 2012 at 07:36 Permalink

    How would an illiterate serf know how to make a sign or use an acronym that would probably be different words anyway in old English?

    Serfs were bound to a piece of land and the local Lord the word comes from servus the Latin for slave.

    I think there are similar words to F**K in Dutch it probably it comes from some shared common word into Old English and Middle Dutch. Push, thrust, strike, copulate.

    Are you meaning a thing known as Droit du seigneur? (French) That was supposed to be legal right for the local lord to take a serf’s daughters virginity.

    In Western Europe serfdom sort of died out after the Renaissance, but got stronger in Central/Eastern Europe. Elisabeth I finally stamped it out what was left of it in England.

  9. James Higham January 13, 2012 at 07:38 Permalink

    And now serfdom is back again. Funny how thing’s go in cycles.

  10. Moggsy January 13, 2012 at 09:29 Permalink

    A serf was bound to a piece of land and the service of the one who owned it. They could not leave or work for anyone else if they wanted.

    You and we all are forced to tithe a big chunk of our earnings to our Governments & they can tax our property and what we buy and even take stuff once we are dead.

    But I was thinking a person was still free to leave, so they can’t be a Serf.

    Then I thought, but where would you go to and not get the same deal and how easy is it anyway? Try getting a green card.

    So I guess you are not so wrong about the Serf thing.

    Funny how a post about swearing leads to taxation, Normally it is the opposite with taxation leading to swearing.

  11. jameshigham January 13, 2012 at 10:56 Permalink

    But I was thinking a person was still free to leave, so they can’t be a Serf.

    No, that’s what the news is all about – that girl was not free to leave. She was ordered to work at Poundworld for nothing. That’s serfdom. Actually, it’s worse – it’s slavery.

  12. Moggsy January 13, 2012 at 12:27 Permalink

    I checked and my “So I guess you are not so wrong about the Serf thing” comment did come out.

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