May 23, 2006

Horse 552 - Bloody, Crap & Bugger

For those who are either easily offended or so utterly childish, please stop snickering or just go away now. I am fully aware that this next post does contain rude words; indeed that is the point.

Honestly, some people... tsk, tsk, tsk.

I wonder about various sware words and where they actually come from and whether or not they should be classed as sware words. Sware words by their nature are taboo words not to be used in polite conversation; in fact it's only those people with any manners who actually care. Most sware words if you took a look at their function, actually denote either sexual functions, deviant practices, organs, products, bodily waste products and interestingly religious references.
So then, with this in mind I intend to look at 3 words with would be considered mildly offensive, and who's derivations are misunderstood:

Most people will tell you that this comes from the invention of the push-button flush toilet and its inventor Thomas Crapper. The word crap was recorded in the London newspaper The Times as early as 1846. Thomas Crapper at the time would have been 10 years old, so clearly the word is well before his invention.
The word relates to crap in the top of beer kegs and is recorded in other sources in England in the 1490s. Believe it or not, it also appears in Latin versions of the Bible where the Latin crappa means chaff, or the husks that are blown from wheat.
The word's ancient meaning still refers to waste products, but it's only as the word became corrupted possibly around the 1780s that it finally referred to poo-poo and therefore passed into the realm of rude.

I've heard theories on this ranging from swearing on the blood of Christ, to rather nasty bodily functions. This word is most likely a contraction of the words "by our Lady" and could either refer to Mary the mother of Jesus as a minced oath.
The most likely origin has to do not with The Virgin Mary buy Mary I of England the Tudor monarch. It was under her reign that nearly 300 Catholics were executed. The practice of political sware words continues to this day. To call someone a Nazi is not a nice thing to do and inversely, the name Teddy Bear gets its name from one that was given to Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt.
The words fortnight & sennight should also be rendered with apostrophes along with bloody. Thus their correct usage would have once been: fort'night, sev'nnight and bl'oody.

This is a case of a word jumping across the French-English divide. With the Norman invasion of 1066, all Saxon words in use were declared illegal. Thus the more gentrified method of speaking in England was to use the French word - like an aubergine instead of eggplant. The word ultimately is derived from the French word Boulgre, derived from "Bulgarian" who Catholic French people wanted to stigmatise in the French late kingdom of about 1760.
The French gentry successfully managed to accuse people in Bulgaria (and by inference the rest of the soon to be formed Austro-Hungarian Empire) of deviant acts. The word carried throughout the British Empire, and in the US and Canada it remained highly offensive. In Australia and NZ, it was almost comical. So much so that in Australia it serves mainly as a mildly amusing slightly offensive place marker.

All three of these words have been used in advertising in an official capacity. It's interesting that you'll see these even in moderately polite circles. It's also interesting that some words like drawers and po and even bum which were considered highly rude even just 60 years ago are now so tame that they'd not even figure on the scale; yet I write PO Box on mail every single day.

I hope no-one steps in the po.


Derik said...

Ma's out,
Pa's out,
Let's talk rude.

Jules said...

bugger off, buggered up
bugger was even used in that toyota ad with the doggy that fell in the mud

bloody is a bloody brilliany word mate, it's a bloody ripper

crapola, crapulent, craptacular, crapvision

all these words are useful and Australian.