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I would not have believed this, but we have it on the authority of the President of a state university. (Of course, her university is being sued for allegedly failing to act when members of the football team harassed, and eventually raped, a female teammate.)
    University of Colorado President Betsy Hoffman was doing what well-prepared individuals naturally do when they are being deposed in civil litigation - she was refusing to let the opposing attorney bully her into endorsing a definition that might help the other side's case - when she pushed back too hard. She said something that would strike most people as weird and implausible regarding the use of the word "c---" to describe a woman. "I've actually heard it used as a term of endearment," Hoffman said.
That from the Rocky Mountain News, Digging in Deeper, June 16, 2004. Further details from the Denver's ABC News:
    The attorney asked Hoffman whether she thought the term was "a filthy and vile word." Hoffman replied it was a "swear word" and that its meaning depended on the circumstances in which it was used, according to a copy of the deposition released by the school.

    Asked if it could ever be used in a polite context, Hoffman replied: "Yes, I've actually heard it used as a term of endearment."

    University spokeswoman Michele Ames said Hoffman knows the word has "negative connotations" but it did not in its original use centuries ago. "Because she is a medieval scholar, she is also aware of the long history of the word dating back to at least Chaucer," Ames said. English writer Geoffrey Chaucer lived in the late 1300s and used the word in "The Canterbury Tales."
The things you can learn from the news.
 
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In another thread I had mentioned that there are a few words that I don't enunciate correctly, such as "tour" and "turret."
Shu informs me that this word is another that I have difficulty with. Of course it didn't used to be a problem because when would I use it? However, now that I find it is a "term of endearment" I'd better practice it! Roll Eyes
 
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I've heard this story before, and most females I know hate the use of the word, in any context. They also detest, despise, and loath it. This word is much worse than b----.

I enjoy how often the word from Old English is considered vulgar and the word from Latin is considered "scientific".
 
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I can't say that I have been called a "c---" so it's hard for me to say how I'd feel being called that. Yet, I have been called a b-----, and I loathe that sexist word.
 
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Quote "...I can't say that I have been called a "c---" so it's hard for me to say how I'd feel being called that. Yet, I have been called a b-----, and I loathe that sexist word..."

It's interesting that, although just about every English speaker over the age of 7 will know exactly what words are represented by, say, C..., for some reason the dots, dashes or astericks are felt to be far less offensive than the actual letters (which the reader's brain will inevitably, and rapidly, fill in).

There have been a number of comic spin-offs based on this phenomenon, for example, the one used in the radio show "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue".

In this sketch the panelists are given a passage, typically a poem, and are asked to "bleep" any words that they feel are offensive. The results are hilarious and a typical example could be:

Mary had a little BLEEP
Its BLEEP was BLEEP as BLEEP
And everywhere that Mary BLEEP
That BLEEP was sure to BLEEP

Incidentally, my own objection to swearwords is not the concept they convey but their usual inapplicablity. Few describe, even remotely, the word or phrase they qualify and this, to my mind, simply demonstrates a lack of adequate vocabulary.

For example,were I to say of someone, "He is a chronic, unrepentent and long-term liar" that would describe well the nature of the person I am speaking of.

However, were I to say, "He is an adverbial swearword, adjectival swearword liar", this would convey little more that my distaste for the person.


Richard English
 
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A yes, the c-word. First the etymology. It's interesting that it is directly related to the words, queen (related to the generic Scandinavian words for woman), quean (Elizabethan term for whore), quaint, gynecology (the Greek gune), Latin cunnus (whence cunnilingus), Welsh cwthr 'anus, rectum', Middle Irish cuthe 'cavity, groove', (it may be related to the root that also gave Latin cavus 'hollow, concave'), etc.

Next the sociology. The cognate word in French, con and Spanish coño barely rates a blip on the swear-o-meter. I've heard little old ladies mutter the word in French in regards to the shenanigans of some young punks, and as for the latter in Spanish, one of my thesis advisors gave me a book called Los mil y un nombres del coño which is a compendium of literary terms for the anatomy under discussion. I think the good university president was just equivocating under oath. I've never heard of it being used in English as anything but a derogatory term. As for Chaucer, the word occurs in both the Wife of Bath's and the Miller's tales, where it is just an anatomical term. Some of Chaucer's source material were a genre of poetry from France called fabliaux, and there is a famous fabliau called Le chevalier qui fet parler les cons (i.e., The Knight Who Made C---s Talk) ca.1250. Some think that the closest Shakespeare got to the word was Hamlet's "Do you think I mean country matters?" Although the French word appears in the hilarious learning English scene of Henry V where it is confused with the word gown in English.
 
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" Some think that the closest Shakespeare got to the word was Hamlet's 'Do you think I mean country matters?'"

The context (Act III Scene 2) makes it very clear what Shakespeare meant.
    HAMLET: Lady, shall I lie in your lap? [Lying down at OPHELIA's feet]
    OPHELIA: No, my lord.
    HAMLET: I mean, my head upon your lap?
    OPHELIA: Ay, my lord.
    HAMLET: Do you think I meant country matters?
    OPHELIA: I think nothing, my lord.
    HAMLET: That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs.
Another example is Twelfth Night, Act II Scene 5
    MALVOLIO: What employment have we here? [Taking up the letter]
    FABIAN: Now is the woodcock near the gin.
    SIR TOBY BELCH: O, peace! and the spirit of humour intimate reading aloud to him!
    MALVOLIO: By my life, this is my lady's hand these be her very C's, her U's and her T's and thus makes she her great P's. It is, in contempt of question, her hand.
    SIR ANDREW: Her C's, her U's and her T's: why that?
 
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A lot of women are reclaiming “c---” (and I type it thusly, not because I find it offensive, but because it is still classed as an offensive word and I don’t want to get censored) in the same way that “n----r” and “q---r” have been reclaimed by the black and gay communities – and I like the idea. It is sad that what is commonly considered to be the worst swearword in the English language refers to a part of the female anatomy. Similarly, “t—t” and “p---y” are thought of as very crude, but you’d be hard pressed to find more than one slang word for male genitalia in that same league of offensiveness.

This isn’t a challenge, by the way (!), or evidence of misandry – just an observation and some food for thought. And it does tie in with the fact that women are subtly influenced to feel ashamed of their anatomy, as the phrase “hide your shame” - when said to a little girl who’s accidentally showing her underwear - suggests.

For anyone interested in reading more, I suggest “The Mirror Within” by Anne Dickson, which talks about this in a far better way than I can, along with (amongst other things) how both women and men are trapped by society’s sexuality myths and gender stereotypes. And it’s written without the hysterical (another word negatively indicating feminine organs!) anti-men propaganda that unfortunately can accompany an otherwise valid argument and lead to the whole thing being ignored.
 
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And it does tie in with the fact that women are subtly influenced to feel ashamed of their anatomy, as the phrase “hide your shame” - when said to a little girl who’s accidentally showing her underwear - suggests.

Compare English (Neo-Latin) pudendum, (plural -a) 'that of which one should be ashamed' < pudeo 'to feel shame' and German Scham 'shame; pubic', weibliche Scham 'vulva'.
 
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Does there exist a language in which slang words for penis do not also mean a stupid or dislikable man? I think it's a universal human metaphor.
 
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Don't know about the language question, neveu (be interesting to find out though), but my original post didn't say that there were no offensive words relating to the penis, but that such words aren't generally detested as much as those for vulva, or considered to be as "disgusting".

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Interesting, Cat, and I will read the book. I have heard of it, but I haven't read it. Jheem, thanks, for your excellent supportive etymology. I have seen women receiving "pudendal" blocks in OB when having babies, and I had never known the 'that of which one should be ashamed' etymology.

I agree with Neveu that many of the words meaning "penis" refer to stupid men, such as "Putz" (meaning 'jerk') in Yiddish. Yet, there is a difference, isn't there?
 
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I was reminded of some of Cat's remarks about women reclaiming the "c" word in reading this morning's Tribune. I do think women are beginning to be more assertive, and to me that is just great! Very recently, Teresa Kerry told a reporter to "shove it!" after feeling harrassed by a reporter from a right-wing newspaper that she thinks consistently and purposely misrepresents the facts. When Hillary Clinton was told of the comment made by Mrs. Kerry, she said, "Good for you. You go, girl."

It is not just the Democratic women, either. In 1984 Barbara Bush, whom I admire, was attempting to describe the Democratic Party's vice presidential candidate and the first woman on a national political ticket, Geraldine Ferraro. Barbara said, "I can't say it, but it rhymes with 'rich.'" Was there an outcry then? I can't remember.

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There is a difference between being assertive and being outright rude. I mean, Arnold "Gubenator" Schwarzeneggar recently made a joke at a press conference calling some democrats "girly men", and it was a huge deal in California. Of course, I remember Newt Gingrich getting in trouble when his mother told a reporter he had called a woman a bad name.

I have nothing against women being more assertive, but wouldn't it be better for everyone to be nicer, as opposed to women being allowed to be sink to the level of men?
 
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Oh, gosh, you have to get all serious on me, don't you? Razz

Of course you are right, Sean. I got carried away with my excitement at seeing that women no longer are shrinking violets. Yet, common courtesy, yes, is an integral part of any relationship.

You might know it's the kid keeping the middle-aged adult honest. Roll Eyes
 
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Will former President Clinton long be remembered for behavior indicating that cigars are for pussies ???
 
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Belin in Genoese (Ligurian) Italian dialect, meaning penis, is as far as I know never used to refer to putzes or schmucks in their metaphoral roles, but is a rather endearing term for the membrum virale. It's also one of those interjections that can just about mean anything and is probably too dangerous for foreigners to use. (In the interests of equal opportunity, natûa is the term for the female pudenda.)
 
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Humph! Mad

First of all you tease us by telling us about belin and natûa and I was all ready to use them next time I'm in Liguria. Then you spoil the fun by telling us they are too dangerous for foreigners to use!

Bah! Mad


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Humph!

Sorry, arnie, at least you'll know what all those Ligurians are talking about. Wink I'm sure you were kidding, but trying to speak / say things in dialect can be a very tricky business. Here's something else for you to say next time you fly into Cristoforo Colombo airport:

Ciœve, ciœve, gallinn-a fa œve. (SAMPA /tS9ve tS9ve galiNa fa 9ve/ Standard Italian Piove, piove, gallina fa uove; English "It's raining, it's raining, the hen is laying eggs.)

You can't get into too much trouble talking about the weather.

But seriously, while I've heard belin /bEliN/ a lot (from both my family and folks in the caroggio (/karudZu/ 'alley'), I've never heard anybody say natûa /natYa/, but only read about it in a dictionary.

If you're interested in Genoese / Genovese / Zeneise, there are a couple of sites online: here and here.
 
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There is a difference between being assertive and being outright rude.

I have been thinking about your comment, Sean. Then I watched the Democratic National Convention last night and heard Teresa Kerry speak. She said something that rang true. She said that everyone knows she is opinionated (partly referring to the "shove it" comment). But, she went further and said, "My only hope is that, one day soon, women - who have all earned the right to their opinions - instead of being labeled 'opinionated,' will be called smart, or well-informed, just as men are." That is a good point. I do agree that "shove it" is a rude comment, and she surely did say un-American, even though she denied it.

Along with this, Melissa Paige is suing a major accounting company (Pricewaterhouse Coopers) for sex-bias. Melissa had glowing reviews from her clients, brought in 12 million dollars from these clients, and the other partners in the firm have documented rave reviews of her. However, when it came to her becoming partner, she was told she was "too aggressive." Again, I wonder if that would have been the case had she been a man.

On a more personal note, I was talking to a friend this weekend who is in advertising. She told me that when she was 25 and on her first business trip, the men all wanted to go to a strip joint after a particular grueling day she had where she had made some client presentations. She was the only woman from her firm on that trip, and she courteously declined. When she got back to her office, the men had complained about her not being a team player because she wouldn't join them on outings. Now, would the same happen if a bunch of women had asked the only man to go shopping with them at a conference? I doubt it.

Food for thought....

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Not about the same word, but a similar topic: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_11-7-2004_pg3_5


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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I've read that same article by a dozen different authors over the last couple of years. Not the same article really, but so many like it. I particularly like the famous sayings with the f-word.

"You want what on the f---ing ceiling?" -- Michaelangelo

quote:
She told me that when she was 25 and on her first business trip, the men all wanted to go to a strip joint after a particular grueling day she had where she had made some client presentations. She was the only woman from her firm on that trip, and she courteously declined. When she got back to her office, the men had complained about her not being a team player because she wouldn't join them on outings.


If there ever was an instance of sexual harassment, this is it.
 
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For the sake of sidestepping the kinds of censorship software that give B.H. (among many others) fits, allow me to use asterisks here although I would much rather be able to be open and honest enough to use the actual words. After all, the words themselves don't hurt people - It's the ignorance of those using the words that does the damage.


Call a man a "p***y" and you have a fight on your hands. Call a woman a "c**t" and the result is the same. This astounds me. Why should such a perfectly wonderful parcel of anatomy inspire such rage in both genders?


And regarding Swartzenegger's "girly man" quote, I forget who pointed out the fact that this term was not from any of the California governor's movies but was, in fact, a catch phrase from the "Franz und Hans" segments of Saturday Night Live a few years back. The kicker is that both Franz and Hans were deliberate caricatures of none other than Arnold Swartzenegger. Funny how that particular term went full circle!


One last note - I've seen the word "p***y" spelled out when it was simply used as an insult but never when it referred to the actual part of a woman's body. This strikes me as being mildly hypocritical at best.

It also brings up one more reason the city I presently live in, Belleville Illinois, is a joke. In Belleville, if you have pet cats it is illegal to allow them to roam free. By law you have to walk them on a leash!! Right. Like that's going to happen! As I have said as frequently as this stupid subject has come up, "You show me a man walking a cat and I'll show you a leash with a p***y at both ends!"

(That line, I'm proud to say, is my own but feel free to use it should a similar situation ever come up for you.)
 
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I agree with Neveu that many of the words meaning "penis" refer to stupid men, such as "Putz" (meaning 'jerk') in Yiddish.


According to Patricia T. O’Conner (author of Woe is I, among others), she was unaware that putz was, in addition to “a stupid person”, also a slang term for penis. She relates, in her book Origins of the Specious, that she often used the term while an assistant editor at the New York Times unwittingly.

She says she learned it originally came from a German word meaning "ornament" or "decoration." She traced its English beginnings to a “...1902 article from the New York Times Magazine. ‘Only the chosen few can afford to have a really impressive putz which fills half a room ....This more elaborate putz requires not only money for its erection, but artistic handiwork.’”
 
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I think putz literally means "penis" in Yiddish. I found this site's differentiation between putz and shmuck to be funny:
quote:
Putz: literally, a diminutive form of penis; a prick. Used, as we do in English to describe a nasty, unlikable man. A putz generally has no real power, except to make your life miserable or at least unpleasant, often in a passive-aggressive way. Whereas a shmuck can be thought of as a large, erect prick and putz, a small, limp one.
 
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Glad to see the discussion has shifted from a discussion of female to male anatomy. I've heard of many terms for the male member. But 'the Malcolm Gladwell' was a new one! Check out this article from the NY Times. Many of you have probably seen this already.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08...azine&pagewanted=all
 
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Yiddish פאץ (pots) 'penis; stupid person' is not a diminutive. Since pots is almost universally used for a stupid person, the term for penis has shifted to the diminutive of pots which is petsl. A similar occurrence is with Yiddish shmok (שמאק) to shmekl. The variation between "o" and "e" is the same kind of ablaut that happens in German (the language and dialects).


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Thanks, Metic. Now I know why I enjoy Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakoff so much! Eek His technique of dictating to himself is very interesting too. As for "Malcolm Gladwell," I think he looks more like a vulva myself.


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
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So I'm wondering what 'putzing around' or 'futzing around' (I've heard both versions being used) means exactly.
 
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And just a couple of days ago, I saw part of the movie Dinner for Schmucks. Steve Carell was the schmuck in that movie and portrays a bumbling fool who causes damage when trying to help - he's not intentionally nasty. So Hollywood's definition of schmuck appears to be more benign than the Yiddish dictionary's.
 
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So I'm wondering what 'putzing around' or 'futzing around' (I've heard both versions being used) means exactly.

Euphemisms.
 
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I hadn't read that NY Times article about Nicholson Baker. He sounds fascinating. I thought this part a bit funny:
quote:
It’s as funny as it is filthy and breathes new life into the tired, fossilized conventions of pornography in a way that suggests a deep, almost scholarly familiarity with the ancient tropes.
Scholarly? I'd never thought of dirty books as being scholarly!
 
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Nicholson Baker

Baker (link) is a good writer. I've read most of his novels, and he has a good non-fiction book of essays called The Size of Thoughts: Essays and Other Lumber that was excellent. A couple of his novels (Vox and The Fermata) could be considered scholarly pornography.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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So, z, what exactly is "scholarly pornography?"
 
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There was a "secret" museum in Naples of erotica found during the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum that was open to "scholars only" for a while in Victorian times. See Wikipedia.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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So, z, what exactly is "scholarly pornography?"

How about erotica for scholars? There was a famous English bibliographer of pornography in the late 19th century in the UK: Henry Spencer Ashbee (link). He wrote a great deal of pseudo-scholarly pornography-related works. For example Index Librorum Prohibitorum: being Notes Bio- Biblio- Icono- graphical and Critical, on Curious and Uncommon Books. London, privately printed, 1877. I have run across more than one of these porn academics. Once at Cal, I requested a book from one of the locked cabinets in the biology library, and as I researched more and more, I noticed that most of the books had been donated to the library by a retired professor of zoology, because his distinctive bookplate kept appearing in the books I was checking out (purely for research purposes, doncha know). Ashbee donated his huge library (includes lots of one of a kind porn from the 18th and 19th centuries to the British Public Library, and they accepted the porn because of the other rare non-porn books that they wanted, and his will stipulated all or none, and that they couldn't sell any part of his library. The Vatican Library is supposed to have one of the hugest porn collections from the 19th century and earlier.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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quote:
The Vatican Library is supposed to have one of the hugest porn collections from the 19th century and earlier.
Interesting. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, does it? Wink
 
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Originally posted by Metic:
So I'm wondering what 'putzing around' or 'futzing around' (I've heard both versions being used) means exactly.


It's used in English translation, too. "Dicking around" is "wasting time on foolish pursuits," if you like...which could be anything from entertaining a member of the opposite sex, to entertaining oneself, to simply goofing off aimlessly, depending on your intention or degree of lewdness...
 
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