30 December 2010

I Don't Think That Means What You Think

"Scumbag", the Pastor said at some point in his sermon.
You may as well have slapped me in the face.
I'm sure "despicable person" was his intended meaning.
But I'm also pretty sure he would not have used the term at all if he knew the secondary definition.


Capt. Schmoe said...

Actually, the secondary definition under the Wikipedia entry is more likely the one that should be the primary definition.

Much like the term "that sucks", the term scumbag is one where a vulgar term is so often used, it becomes part of the language and the obscene root meaning of it becomes lost or minimized.

Our language is full of them, particularly among us lesser educated individuals. Oddly enough, the process also goes the other way.

The word "cock" is believed only to have had one original meaning, one of a avian nature. Over time, the slang anatomical meaning became more prevalent until it became the more common definition.

Which, in turn, leads to another question. Does the term "cockpit" refer to the more avian meaning or the more anatomical?

I suspect that, depending upon who is asked, that question could be answered either way. Or both.

Thanks for the post.

Timothy Frazier said...

Indeed. I used to go to a mega-church where the pastor frequently employed the term "brown-noser". I always wondered if he ever considered what the implications of that term were. Not profane, but certainly a disgusting reference that has no place in church. He may as well have said "butt-kisser".

The frequent use by mainstream society nowadays of the term "sucks" tends to bother me as well. People seem to not care what the origin of the slang usage is anymore. It used to be as bad to use that word in a profane context as any other obscenity.

I've been known to get very colorful, profane, and obscene with my language in certain limited audiences, but I at least know what not to say in "mixed" or unfamiliar company.

Rita said...

I remember how much trouble the boys cheer club in high school got in when they all stupidly decided to cheer, "Hey Franklin, Say Franklin, You Suck."

There was an audible gasp throughout the entire gym and the Franklin cheerleaders stood there with their mouths agape.

We were just talking the other day at work about how the word "suck" used to be an extremely filthy thing to say. Our young Indian co-worker looked us like we were crazy. I cannot pinpoint where in those 30 years since that date that the term became acceptable in everyday language.

cj said...

Want another example?

The Urban Dictionary is full of them but go and look up 'buss', which once upon a time was another word for 'kiss'...



Paul said...

GB read "The Science of Fear" by Daniel Gardner.