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BS: Mediaeval Swear Words

hesperis 04 Sep 02 - 01:39 AM
GUEST,Maeve 04 Sep 02 - 02:21 AM
Bob Bolton 04 Sep 02 - 02:35 AM
Liz the Squeak 04 Sep 02 - 02:40 AM
GUEST,KingBrilliant 04 Sep 02 - 03:45 AM
Dave the Gnome 04 Sep 02 - 04:09 AM
Madam Gashee 04 Sep 02 - 04:49 AM
Dave the Gnome 04 Sep 02 - 04:58 AM
HuwG 04 Sep 02 - 05:50 AM
Kate 04 Sep 02 - 06:21 AM
GUEST 04 Sep 02 - 06:57 AM
Micca 04 Sep 02 - 07:24 AM
GUEST,Hille 04 Sep 02 - 07:44 AM
Dave Bryant 04 Sep 02 - 08:14 AM
Amos 04 Sep 02 - 09:00 AM
GUEST 04 Sep 02 - 09:14 AM
JedMarum 04 Sep 02 - 09:35 AM
GUEST,Bagpuss 04 Sep 02 - 09:39 AM
C-flat 04 Sep 02 - 09:43 AM
hesperis 04 Sep 02 - 11:51 AM
Steve Parkes 04 Sep 02 - 12:05 PM
mack/misophist 04 Sep 02 - 12:05 PM
Steve Parkes 04 Sep 02 - 12:07 PM
mack/misophist 04 Sep 02 - 12:23 PM
mack/misophist 04 Sep 02 - 12:35 PM
HuwG 04 Sep 02 - 12:47 PM
C-flat 04 Sep 02 - 12:58 PM
Amos 04 Sep 02 - 01:09 PM
C-flat 04 Sep 02 - 01:21 PM
The Walrus at work 04 Sep 02 - 01:24 PM
Mrrzy 04 Sep 02 - 01:37 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 04 Sep 02 - 01:38 PM
HuwG 04 Sep 02 - 02:20 PM
EBarnacle1 04 Sep 02 - 02:35 PM
M.Ted 04 Sep 02 - 04:23 PM
weepiper 04 Sep 02 - 05:01 PM
Uncle_DaveO 04 Sep 02 - 05:06 PM
weepiper 04 Sep 02 - 05:09 PM
Uncle_DaveO 04 Sep 02 - 05:09 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 04 Sep 02 - 05:18 PM
Little Hawk 04 Sep 02 - 05:38 PM
weepiper 04 Sep 02 - 05:45 PM
Little Hawk 04 Sep 02 - 05:56 PM
Dave the Gnome 04 Sep 02 - 06:06 PM
Amos 04 Sep 02 - 06:11 PM
The Walrus 04 Sep 02 - 06:19 PM
Little Hawk 04 Sep 02 - 11:15 PM
Amos 04 Sep 02 - 11:38 PM
Chip2447 04 Sep 02 - 11:46 PM
Steve Parkes 05 Sep 02 - 03:36 AM

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Subject: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: hesperis
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 01:39 AM

I need to know for a writing project. Which swear words were used in Mediaeval times and possibly before then? (Please give meanings where possible.) I don't want to use modern swear words in this story.

Thanks!

~*sirepseh*~


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: GUEST,Maeve
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 02:21 AM

"Zounds", short for "God's wounds" is a mediaeval swear word. I don't know how common it was.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 02:35 AM

G'day Hesperis,

I don't know how common ... or how much like our current concepts of "swearing" ... but another that comes to mind is "Odd's Bodkins" = "God's bodikins" = (swearing on) the testicles of God! This links in with the (rather dubious?) connections between testis giving us both "testify" and "testicle" in modern English.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 02:40 AM

God's teeth - is one that the Dark Company (Mediaeval re-enactment society) used quite a lot, along with some of the commoner Anglo Saxon ones.....

Codlings was another I liked, codlings being what goes in a codpiece.

LTS


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: GUEST,KingBrilliant
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 03:45 AM

Wouldn't swear to the accuracy but...
Strewth = God's truth = still in use
Blimey = (reputedly) God Blind Me = still in use
I've got a feeling that "God's teeth" is a gentlification of the more blasphemous "God's death"

Kris


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 04:09 AM

Not quite mediaeval but good for a laugh...

Try this thou dankish plume-plucked mouldwarp!

Cheers

Dave the Gnome




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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Madam Gashee
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 04:49 AM

Dave the gnome: Where on earth did you find that!!!
It's brilliant! Skipper Jack & myself can freely swop insults all morning now!!
You've made our day!


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 04:58 AM

We have used a paper copy in our pace-egg play for ages. can't remember where I first saw it though.

DtG


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: HuwG
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 05:50 AM

"Bloody" is a contraction of "By our Lady" i.e. swearing on the Virgin Mary.

Still in use, obviously. However, it seems to have lost it's original meaning and is almost always assumed to mean, "Covered in blood", or perhaps, "Sanguinary", which describes the messy work of a butcher or knacker.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Kate
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 06:21 AM

Chaucer's The Miller's Tale has some great ones. The one that sticks in my mind though is quint (spelling?) meaning female genitalia (i.e swop a few letters around). Remember reading it for A Level English and every one having a good giggle.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 06:57 AM

Most swearwords in modern english have long roots in the language, so you could use pretty much any of the current usual ones.

Warning - the below article does not have the offending words censored.

http://www.bizarremag.com/ask/words.html

Where do today's swear words come from?

MARK P: Swearing actually provides a perfect introduction to the etymology of English. Most swear words originated with Middle English, the English that began to be written and spoken as the country gradually lost its ties to France, between about 1100 and 1500. English, in both language and grammar developed primarily out of the languages of our previous conquerors, specifically Germanic, Scandinavian and Romance (the language of Rome).

So, a quick poke around the Oxford English Dictionary reveals that "shit" comes from the olde English for diarrhoea, scitte, which is itself Germanic in origin, from scheissen, possibly via the Danish shitjen. So it's one that's been with us for some time. Shite too goes back along way, and was even used to describe a whole range of birds in the heron family during the late 18th century: shitepokes were allegedly so called for their habit of crapping themselves when disturbed. Good to see twitchers had a sense of humour back then.

Cunt is also of Middle English origin, traceable via the Middle Dutch and Danish word kunte, and the Norwegian and Swedish, kunta. All meant much the same thing that they do today.

Bugger is an interesting one, being a Middle English term, deriving from the French, used to describe enemies of the Catholic Church, specifically the Bogomils. This large and influential religious sect, who preached across in Eastern Europe, were particularly popular in Bulgaria and Serbia, and Bogomil became the state religion of Bosnia and Hungary until the Muslims invaded the Balkans in the 14th century.

The Bogomils were a major influence on the Cathars, or Albigenians (named after the Languedoc town of Albi where they were based), a powerful Christian movement that became large enough to pose a serious threat to the Catholic Church. At least the Catholics saw it that way. When the Cathars refused to submit to Church authority, Pope Innocent III had these peaceful, enlightened, Gnostic, vegetarian ascetics brutally annihilated in the Albigensian Crusade of 1209-1229. One of the most disgraceful moments in Catholic history, this saw the slaughter and torture of tens of thousands of men, women and children for no good reason at all.

Anyway, I digress. Bugger clearly comes from the French bougre, referring to the Bogmils. While it's fairly standard behaviour to accuse your enemies of "unnatural" acts, it's interesting to speculate on how bougre, or bugger, may have come to mean specifically the noble art of buggery. The Cathars are often linked to another mighty Christian offshoot of the time, the Knights Templar, who sprung up during the Crusades and returned to Northern France very rich, powerful and secretive indeed. What it was they that they discovered in the Holy Land, nobody is quite sure, though there are hundreds of ideas, some dafter than others, filling hundreds of books. One of the key accusations that the Church made about the Templars was that they worshipped the head of a bearded god known as Baphomet – said by some to be the head of Jesus himself, or perhaps John the Baptist. Part of this worship was alleged to involve the kissing of another knight's buttocks, perhaps an act of earthy spiritual humility, perhaps a total fabrication on the part of the Church. So it's possible that such rumoured arse-kissing behaviour may have turned the straightforward insult bougre or bugger, into the act buggery that some people know and love today.

Back to swear words then…where were we? Fuck! This seems to be a bit later in origin than most of the other words, tracing back to the early 16th century, though again of Germanic origin, via the Swedish focka and the Dutch, fokkelen. It's thought to originate in an Indo-European root word meaning to strike. However, according to one reader anyway, the word was used in the old days to describe a woman who openly enjoyed sex, and the word stood for "full of carnal knowledge". These lovers of sex were then known as "fuckers". This is certainly puts a nice folkloric spin on plain old etymology. Can anyone suggest any others?

Re: Where do swear words come from?

Jaysun: I remember reading that "fuck" originated with monks--who used "fvccant" back in their time--and, sure enough, after performing a web search using "fvccant," here's what I found in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language:

"The obscenity fuck is a very old word and has been considered shocking from the first, though it is seen in print much more often now than in the past. Its first known occurrence, in code because of its unacceptability, is in a poem composed in a mixture of Latin and English sometime before 1500. The poem, which satirizes the Carmelite friars of Cambridge, England, takes its title, "Flen flyys," from the first words of its opening line, "Flen, flyys, and freris," that is, "fleas, flies, and friars." The line that contains fuck reads "Non sunt in coeli, quia gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk." The Latin words "Non sunt in coeli, quia," mean "they [the friars] are not in heaven, since." The code "gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk" is easily broken by simply substituting the preceding letter in the alphabet, keeping in mind differences in the alphabet and in spelling between then and now: i was then used for both i and j; v was used for both u and v; and vv was used for w. This yields "fvccant [a fake Latin form] vvivys of heli." The whole thus reads in translation: "They are not in heaven because they fuck wives of Ely [a town near Cambridge].""

Reference to an earlier mention, a 'John Le Fucker' listed in 1250, is made in John Ayto's Dictionary of Word Origins. He was probably so-called in mockery, or as a parody. It seems a little odd then that Chaucer, who clearly knew a few rude words, doesn't use the term in his Canterbury Tales, begun in 1385. The earliest reference cited in The Oxford English Dictionary is 1503.

J: I was under the impression that the word "fuck" was derived from the acronym for "fornication under carnal knowledge". I suppose that if you were caught screwing around before marriage this is what you were charged with under some legal system somewhere.

Fuck is an acronym from Dante's Inferno For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Do more research.

[What a cunt! MOP]

Some other suggestions (mostly unlikely) include:

Fornication Under Consent of the King: suggesting one needed the King's permission to shag out of wedlock. Soldiers were said to be automatically granted the right when out raping and pillaging in foreign lands.

For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge: For those held in prison for sex out of wedlock.

File Under Carnal Knowledge: allegedly marked on Scotland Yard rape files.

For a more detailed examination of this sticky issue, visit the ever-reliable Snopes


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Micca
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 07:24 AM

you might try and Find Robert Graves ( yes THAT Robert Graves) " Lars Porsena or the future of Swearing" and this is a possibly helpful site too ( sorry haven't got the Blue clicky kit here at work)http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A753527


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: GUEST,Hille
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 07:44 AM

You could also try the 'Horrible Histories' series written primarily for kids - they do an entire book full of it - just trying to locate it in the house amidst much modern day swearing to get you an ISBN number. Nope! Bit, it's paperback and in print *G*. Hope that's helpful?


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 08:14 AM

Until the middle of the 20th century there were restrictions on the use of many words and expressions on stage and in published books. Many alternatives were used to circumvent the censor. Even Brendan Behan's novel "Borstal Boy" uses "Fugh" and "Fughing" and when Dorothy Parker was intoduced to Behan, she is reported to have said "Oh you're that young Irishman who can't spell fuck ! The prohibition also covered the various names of the Holy Trinity - hence terms like "egad".

When you consider that the swear words allowed in books and plays barely a century ago would have been much tamer than those really in use amongst unpolite society, how much can we rely on those recorded in even earlie tims ?


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Amos
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 09:00 AM

What blather!! ACRONYMS in Dante?? Come on!! I love the superior certainty with which someone asserts this as a fact. I am near-certain that acronyms, at least as we know them, were not used in Dante or in Chaucer, I am open to correction.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 09:14 AM

I think the contributor was suggesting (wrongly as shown by the etymology given earlier) that acronym was coined in reference to the phrase used in Dante. Can't comment really since I haven't read any Dante, philistine that I am. I should have cut off the article before it got into the silly acronym speculation, as the etymology stuff is pretty sound I believe.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: JedMarum
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 09:35 AM

interesting stuff here! It's funny that nowwadays make swears out of body parts and bodily functions. In Mediaeval times it seems quite clear the swears were related to religious matters - and modern Italian swears are comments on one's parentage or family.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: GUEST,Bagpuss
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 09:39 AM

A bit off topic, but for a comprehensive dictionary of modern swearing, see:

http://www.viz.co.uk/profanisaurus/profanis.htm


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: C-flat
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 09:43 AM

Having read this thread I am much happier with my use of swear words as I feel I am doing my bit to uphold and maintain the fine traditions that have been passed down to us.
The next time my better half chastises my colourful language I shall direct her to this item. :~)


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: hesperis
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 11:51 AM

Wow! Thanks for all the wonderful responses! These are all very useful.

Now... more? *g*


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 12:05 PM

It's a pretty good rule of thumb that swearwords do NOT come from acronyms. Even if Dante had been considerate enough to write in Modern English at a time when the English spoke Middle English and Dante spoke whatever form of Italian it was!

There are plenty of exressions to chose from still (more or less) in use today: "cor stone the crows" is "Christ on the cross"; "cor strike me pink" (a bit rare, admittedly!) is "God stripe me pink" (i.e. by beating me). One I particularly like is "bozzimacoo", sadly now fallen from common use. It's supposed to have derived from the French "baisser mon cul"--"kiss my arse", picked up by English soldiers during one or more of those endless wars that have gone on from 1066 onwards. First World War soldiers came back with a few too: "san fairy anne" ("&ccedl;a'ne fait rien"--"it doesn't matter") is a well-known one.

Steve


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: mack/misophist
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 12:05 PM

A. My copy of The Divine Comedy is heavily footnoted and indexed but I can find no reference such as Guest suggests. But there is a reference to shooting someone the finger.
B. The Plantagenets were responsible for several oaths. It was a family custom for each to swear by a different part of god's anatomy.
C. Modern English swear words arose because, to the Norman aristocracy, French latinate terms were natural and proper while their Saxon equivalents were "dirty" and low.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 12:07 PM

Harrow! (Chaucer) That should have read "ça'ne fait rien". Serves me right for being a clever-clogs, n'est-ce pas?

Steve


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: mack/misophist
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 12:23 PM

I almost forgot. Shakespear has a wonderful one in MacBeth: Aroint, thou raunch fed runion. Means: Get out of here you sewer sipping piece of crap.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: mack/misophist
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 12:35 PM

Note to Steve Parkes: Dante Alghieri spoke and wrote in Florentine or Tuscan Italian, still the most beautiful dialect and the first used in modern Italian literature.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: HuwG
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 12:47 PM

Misophist, your reference to the Scottish Play reminds me of my earlier post re, "Bloody / By our Lady".

When Duncan says, "What bloody man is this ?", he is clearly referring to one of the walking wounded from the battlefield. One might assume from this that by Shakespeare's time, the original religious meaning of "bloody" had been replaced by its modern sense. However, Duncan is not usually portrayed as a man who gratuitously curses his own soldiers, and in this case therefore, "bloody", is used merely as an adjective of quality. Mind you, I don't put it past Shakespeare to make a play on words of this little speech. The Porter's speech in the same play for example ("Here's a knocking without etc.") is supposed to be a hilarious reference to the Papal legate to the court, which has clearly gone several hundred feet over my head.

Totally off-topic; there were complaints in the British press today that 62% of British teenagers cannot spell "Shakespeare". They can all spell "Beckham", I mean "Bekhcam", I mean "Posh's husband". Congrats to the Beckhams, by the way, on their production of "Romeo".


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: C-flat
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 12:58 PM

Further to HuwGs' off topic felicitations to the Beckhams,
I know that baby Brooklyn was so named as he was conceived during a trip to the city of that name but no such information has been forthcoming regarding the choice of Romeo.
Could it be that a quickie in the back of an Alpha-Romeo doesn't have quite the same kudos?
Sorry about that.....please feel free to return to the topic at any time.:~)
C-flat


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Amos
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 01:09 PM

Alpha Romeo? A slang term for the predominant lover in a given community? Or were you referring to the Alfa-Romero two-seater, so to speak?

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: C-flat
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 01:21 PM

Actually somewhere between the two Amos,
I meant to write Alfa Romeo, a motor vehicle common to the U.K.:~)


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: The Walrus at work
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 01:24 PM

Another "medaeval" insult was "shitten" (I suppose literally "Shitty" as in covered in faeces) an example I seem to recall was of a community with a corrupt priest described as "a shitten shepherd and clean sheep"

There is also The scene in Henry V, between Katherine Henry and Alice (Katherine's Gentlwoman)

KING HENRY. Then I will kiss your lips, Kate.
KATHERINE. Les dames et demoiselles pour etre baisees devant leur noces, il n'est pas la coutume de France.
KING HENRY. Madame my interpreter, what says she?
ALICE. Dat it is not be de fashion pour le ladies of France- I cannot tell vat is baiser en Anglish.
KING HENRY. To kiss.
ALICE. Your Majestee entendre bettre que moi.
KING HENRY. It is not a fashion for the maids in France to kiss before they are married, would she say?
ALICE. Oui, vraiment.

Now, I'm not sure of this piece of "modern" French , however, I understand that "baiser" in French slang also refers to the sex act - perhaps this is old enough to have been recorded in Shakespeare?

Walrus


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Mrrzy
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 01:37 PM

By the Beard of the Prophet, aren't there any non-Christian swears?


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 01:38 PM

Words like "zounds" are not medieval, but are inventions of 19th C. story tellers. Words like fuck, as mentioned above, were normal language before the imposition of latinate and old french forms by the Norman invaders.

There is no evidence of "blimey" before the 19th c. "'strewth" also first appears in print in the 19th c, but the use of 's is old, so it can't be ruled out absolutely.
There also is a fair bit of myth. "Bloody" had nothing to do with the Virgin Mary or the blood of Christ, but was applied to the habits of the "bloods" or aristocratic rowdies at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th C. (see Oxford English Dictionary).
The one from Shakespeare posted by Mesophist is a good example of the few we have from the English renaissance, and similar phrases undoubtly were medieval as well.

I have no doubt that swearing has always been colorful, but our ideas of it come mostly from the 19th century writers and not from fact.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: HuwG
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 02:20 PM

Dicho I hate to quibble, but I have a well-attested contemporary narrative from the English Civil War (1642 - 1650), which has Prince Rupert meeting his own Regiment of Horse fleeing from Cromwell's troopers (at Marston Moor) and saying, "'Swounds, do you run, follow me!"

While I'll allow that what he actually said may well have been more earthy, but "'Swounds" (and presumably other equivalents of the bleep sound) was certainly in use in print in the mid-17th Century.

I was given the definition of "bloody" by a solicitor (US=attorney) friend of mine; he in turn had it from an exchange in court which discussed whether this word was actually a contempt of court. (I believe that the judge ruled that it wasn't, in the circumstances of the case).


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 02:35 PM

A current usage of "shit" is to drop or put something. As used by the Amish of Pennsylvania, "Shit a little [sample] into my hand." Presumably, this went back to the Germanic of several centuries ago.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: M.Ted
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 04:23 PM

Need I point out that sexual and scatological references have not typically been regarded as particularly offensive--think about the word "swear", to wit:

Main Entry: 1swear
Pronunciation: 'swar, 'swer
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): swore /'swOr, 'swor/; sworn
/'swOrn, 'sworn/; swear·ing
Etymology: Middle English sweren, from Old English
swerian; akin to Old High German swerien to swear
and perhaps to Old Church Slavonic svaru quarrel
Date: before 12th century
transitive senses
1 : to utter or take solemnly (an oath)
2 a : to assert as true or promise under oath
b : to assert or promise emphatically or earnestly
3 a : to put to an oath : administer an oath to b : to bind
by an oath
4 obsolete : to invoke the name of (a sacred being) in an oath
5 : to bring into a specified state by swearing
intransitive senses
1 : to take an oath
2 : to use profane or obscene language : CURSE
- swear·er noun
- swear by : to place great confidence in
- swear for : to give assurance for : GUARANTEE
- swear off : to vow to abstain from : RENOUNCE


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: weepiper
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 05:01 PM

Some quality Scots swearing from the 15th century: "The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie", a formal slagging match between two poets. They take turns to have a go at each other. There's about 30 verses of it, but here's a particularly ripe one (translation below!)

"Mauch mutton, vyle buttoun, peilit gluttoun, air to Hillhouse,
Rank beggar, ostir dregar, foule fleggar, in the flet;
Chittirlilling, ruch rilling, lik schilling in the millhouse,
Baird rehator, theif of natour, fals tratour, feyndis gett;
Filling of tauch, rak sauch, cry crauch, thow art our sett;
Muttoun dryver, girnall ryver, gadswyver, fowll fell the;
Herretyk, lunatyk, purspyk, carlingis pet,
Rottin crok, dirtin dok, cry cok, or I sall quell the."

Maggotty mutton, vile shortarse, sickly-looking glutton, heir to Hillhouse,
Rank beggar, oyster dredger, foul flatterer in the house,
Hog's guts, rough-shod, like an unpolished coin,
Hateful bard, thief of nature, false traitor, feind's get;
Lump of tallow, twisted willow, cry crow, you're beaten;
Sheep-stealer, granary-robber, mare-fucker, bad luck upon you,
Heretic, lunatic, purse-pick, old lady's pet,
Rotten crook, shitty-arse, cry beaten, or I shall shut you up."


I get the impression Dunbar didn't like Kennedy much.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 05:06 PM

Seems to me it's useful to make some distinctions here. When we say "swear" in this thread, we have blurred what are actually at least four different categories of bad language:

Swear: to take an oath, calling on something or someone of sacred stature to bear witness to the truth of the assertion. (By the way, in the Bible, what is prohibited is NOT swearing, but "false swearing", that is, perjury.)

Vulgar and/or excretory language. Self explanatory, I think.

Blasphemy or sacrilegious talk.

Curse: To call down, by express or implicit reference to the supernatural, some dire fate upon someone or something.

Thus, if I drop a can of sauerkraut on my toe and say, "Shit!" and my wife says, "Don't swear!" I reply, "I didn't swear. I was only vulgar."

If I deny that I ate the last of my wife's Godiva chocolates (when I really did) and tell her, "God strike me dead if I did!" I've engaged in false swearing, and perhaps also in blasphemy.

If I tell someone, "Go to Hell!" or "Damn you!" or "May God strike you down!" I'm cursing.

If I burn my finger on the stove and yell, "Jesus!" I'm engaging in blasphemy (or maybe it would be sacrilege; sometimes it is hard to tell them apart.)

By the way, very often we see that last-named subcategory spelled "sacrelige" or "sacreligious", as if the roots were "sac" (meaning something or other bad, I guess) and "religion" or "religious". That's not the word. "Sacrilege" comes from "sacri" meaning sacred, and "lego", meaning to steal, so sacrilege is really stealing sacred objects, or by extension, to use a sacred term for low or base uses.

End of pedantic rant.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: weepiper
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 05:09 PM

woops... in the Scots bit 'gadswyver' should read 'yadswyver' and in the English 'feind's get' should read 'fiend's get'. Oh, here's another good bit: "Thy choip, thy choll, garris men for to leif chest; thy gane it garris us think that we mon de" - 'your chops, your jaws, make men throw up (at the sight of them); your throat makes us think that we must die'


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 05:09 PM

Once I get rolling, it's hard to stop:

Some bad or offensive language is none of the above, but merely insulting: "You coprophagic, microcephalic leptosome!"

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 05:18 PM

Obvious is that the term medieval is misused by some for renaissance and later times. The 17th c. and the little ruckus with Cromwell is later than medieval times (Middle Ages- ca. 500AD-ca. 1500AD, but Renaissance students put its end somewhat earlier).

Swounds goes back to the 16th C. in print (HuwG is correct) with more than one meaning: to swoon, and as a mild swear word referring to bloody wounds - perhaps meaning God's wounds. Zounds! I hate to admit it, but it is just conceivable that I may have been the tiniest bit mistaken about Zounds! The OED ignores the spelling, but Webster's Collegiate puts it at 16th c.

Swear = curse, profanity, etc. seems to have come in about the 15th century; Shakespeare used it a century later in that sense. MTed is correct in that the word is very old; roots uncertain, but used in England for solemn declaration or affirmation by 900 AD (in print).


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Little Hawk
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 05:38 PM

Avaunt, wretches, knaves, and cutpurses!!! Ye quailing, gibbering, chuckleheaded scoundrels, ye should be cast into the pit of Hades, there to forfend on carrion and the leavings of Hell's demon urchins! Ye darkling imps, sons of perdition and ravagers of the innocent heath, may ye perish and succumb to the wrath of the valorous and true. May the wolves gnaw upon your codpieces! May pernicious vermin consume thy raiment from off thy poxy frames, exposing thee to the inclemency of the pitiless elements on some barren and nameless shore of disaster! Thou villainous, onion-eyed, barrel-bellied swine! Begone! And take thy vile humours with thee when thither thou goest!

* This is good. I should arrange to surreptitiously put it on Roger's phone answering system at the Ashram...(hee! hee!)*

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: weepiper
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 05:45 PM

Renounce, ribald, thy rhyming; thow but royis... ane lawland ers wald mak a bettir noyis....

nothing personal, Little Hawk... that was Dunbar again :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Little Hawk
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 05:56 PM

We really need LJC in this discussion with a few good Scots curses...

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 06:06 PM

I believe some of the Arabic languages are particularly good at swearing in. I dunno the original phrases but two I have been told of translate as, apparantly, "May the fleas of thousand camels infest your genitals" and "May the hole in your arse heal up".

Can anyone confim or deny?

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Amos
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 06:11 PM

Eh!! Ta soeur, elle pisse bleu! T'as quel'que chose a tinter? has always beren one of my favorite French street insults. Translates to "Your sister pees blue!! Got something for dyeing?"

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: The Walrus
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 06:19 PM

First, I'm reminded that a traditional French nickname for the English was "les godons" from their frequent use of the oath (sorry, curse) "God Damn". These days, I gather we are "les Fuckoffs".

From "Swearing" by Geoffrey Hughes: A list of euphemisms for God Date Euphemism
1350s gog
1386 cokk
1569 cod
1570 Jove
1598 'sblood
1598 'slid (God's eyelid)
1598 'slight
1599 'snails (God's nails)
1600 zounds (God's wounds)
1601 'sbody
1602 sfoot (God's foot)
1602 gods bodykins
1611 gad
1621 odsbobs
1650 gadzooks (God's hooks)
etc.

And one or two "scatalogical" terms

c 1202 Shit-breech Randolfus Bla de Scitebroc
c 1250 Shit worde So herded (herdsmen) doth other mid schit worde [1]
c 1386 shitten A shitten shepherd and a clene sheep
c 1508 shit (personal epithet)
Thou art a schit but a wit
c 1598 shit fire A hot, violent fellow, a shite-fire

Are thes of any use?

Walrus

[1] "doth" & "other" are spelled with a runic "p" like symbol in place of the "th".


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Little Hawk
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 11:15 PM

I've heard of an expression called "codswallop", but I'm not sure if it's mediaeval in origin. I believe it means "utter nonsense". If so, we may offer a course in creative codswallop at the WSSBA soon...

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Amos
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 11:38 PM

I think I know who is going to deliver that one, LH!! :>) Codswallop is an Anglo interjection-- I think English, but I have heard it from New Zealanders as well. If it dates from the same era as codspiece and codlings, it is quite venerable.


Regards,


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Mediaeval Swear Words
From: Chip2447
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 11:46 PM

blicky

chip2447


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Subject: Bloody: origins
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 05 Sep 02 - 03:36 AM

"Bloody" doesn't come from "By Our Lady", which is a shame! It's like "lousy" or "rotten" used in a metaphorical sense ("You rotten swine!") as a perjorative adjective rather than in a literal (and nonsensical) way. While you might not use those words in terribly polite company, you would get away with it in many more situations than you would real cussing. Jonathan Swift wrote somehting like "bloody hot" in a letter to Vanessa, so we can tell it was an OK word back then; it's just fallen from grace in the years since. "Bleeding" and "ruddy" were 19th-C euphemisms; curiously, the former has long had full cuss-word status, while the latter is largely acceptable. Oh, and "swine" waw the most awful thing you could call anyone when I was about six or seven!

Steve


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