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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Favorite slang word uncovered

Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit

Now that we have cast the "no gremlins in the gears" spell for the month, let me tell you what I found out today. From Professor Mike Sheehan on "Words to the Wise", our local program for geeks and word smiths, someone asked where the word Fuck really comes from. Hey, it's my blog. I can say what I want and you don't have to like it or read it. Oh.. sure I could have warned you. Oops.

As Jodi is fond of reminding people at work, fuck used to be all caps. It was an acronym used by the judiciary to describe the crime of adultery without getting all gross and technical... you know, because nobody really knows what goes on behind closed doors [innocently whistling]. It stands for For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge which is a bit ungainly when you are writing in uncial script... by hand... with ink you made yourself because using your own blood is gross and wrong... unless you are a serial killer and then its somewhere in the SK handbook. But I digress. The term goes way back to about the 1400s. In fact, according to the Professor, it goes back even earlier and means something entirely different. What a surprise.

Under the heading of The Best Things Come from Germany is the term fuck. It shares its roots with Scandinavian farming terminology. I'm not certain of the spelling of the original word. The Scandinavian word probably is riddled with Umlauts or the goofy crossed out O. But most likely the Middle German word was spelled, simply, fuk and pronounced "fook". It is a verb that means to plant as with a dibble; to leave a seed in fertile soil. Commence with the metaphors.

A dibble, for you horticulturally challenged, is a stick marked at various intervals which helps a farmer/gardener determine the ideal depth at which to plant bulbs and seeds. Nowadays you can find fancy dibbles in most garden goods stores with nice cross handles and maybe a metal tip to preserve the point. It is short and a bit on the chubby side, tapered. Shove it in the ground, pull it out and there is a perfect hole for the kind of bulb you are planting. Innocent enough. *That is until our earlier wordsmith predecessors boozed up and tried to talk over some one's head which just put the whole conversation into the gutter... or more appropriately the compost heap.* So how does a simple word for planting in a specific method become one of the 7 words you can't say on TV? Interpretation, my friends.

*...* that little bit of editorializing was entirely mine. Well, so was the bit about the uncial script. Really, if you think writing long hand is a pain in the ass now, even though we have cool ball point pens and gel writers, imagine if you had to dip a pen nib in ink every few letters. And had to make your own ink. Now imagine you worked for a pansy-assed king that had to have everything done better or prettier than another pansy-assed king he didn't like which meant all the documents he signed had to have a consistent colouring to his liking or your head on a spike. Wanna borrow my Bic?

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