Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Who knew?

Today's post is prompted by the Tuesday meme, Heads or Tails. Today's prompt is: "Heads: Loud". To find out more about this or join the fun, click here.

When I saw the prompt, "Loud", I immediately thought of expressions using loud, such as "LOL ... laugh out loud" - which, according to a friend's 12 year old daughter on facebook, using "LOL" as a response ... is sooooooo yesterday. Just an FYI ... oh wait, I wonder if FYI is still OK ... oh no ... another one, I wonder if OK is, um ... now, I've lost my train of thought.

Well then.

The other expression that came to mind was, "For crying out loud" - as in the gritted teeth response to something frustrating ... as in my GYN visit yesterday, when he suggested that I get a gallbladder ultrasound ... "For crying out loud, dude ... I don't have a medical degree, but I'm fairly certain that particular organ (the gallbladder) is not gynecological ...".

But that's another post ... for another day.

I googled the origin of "for crying out loud" ... I had no idea it was a Minced Oath ... which might be similar to Minced Meat or Minced Garlic - but I think that's another post as well. Seriously, I didn't consider that particular phrase to be a euphemism - I'm not sure what I considered, but certainly not a euphemism. So - who knew ... apparently, not me.

Click the link to see w
hat I found ... it was a bit too long to post all of the examples ... but here's a question - is using a "Minced Oath" still "swearing"? If you feel it's impolite to utter the "real" word(s) - is it ok to utter the more polite version when everyone knows what you're really saying/thinking anyway? By using these euphemisms, are we teaching our children to still curse but it's ok as long as they use the polite version? It's an interesting conundrum ... to which I don't think I have an answer just yet (darn). But it has given me something to think about while I'm waiting in radiology for my (freaking) gallbladder ultrasound.

Minced Oaths

The English, being a restrained lot, have a long list of euphemistic phrases, many of which became part of the language before it spread to other parts of the world. The root cause of these is a wish to communicate without being explicit. This is something the English are particularly fond of, hence their long tradition of double-entendre comedy.

Euphemisms aren't all from the distant past though. For every Shakesperian 'beast with two backs' there's a 20th century 'knee trembler'.

Minced oaths are a sub-group of euphemisms used to avoid swearing when expressing surprise or annoyance. If you hit your thumb with a hammer when great aunt Edith is in the room what do you say? It's probably going to be a minced oath. Shakespeare might have resorted to 'gadzooks' (God's hooks - referring to the nails in the cross), we might try 'shoot' or 'freaking heck'.

They are usually, although not exclusively, religious in nature and date from the days when it wasn't acceptable to use the name of God, Jesus or other religious notables in everyday speech. To mince your words, or mince matters, means to choose words so as not to offend anyone. Some example are 'Jiminy Cricket' (Jesus Christ), 'dagnamit' (God damn it'), 'for Pete's sake' (for St. Peter's sake).

It's interesting that, while we continue to generate new euphemisms, new minced oaths are few and far between. Perhaps that's because, while there are still taboos about discussing death, disability, homosexuality etc, the restrictions on swearing out loud when surprised or annoyed have slackened somewhat.




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3 comments:

Skittles said...

You are so darn funny!!!! I love the way you ramble around while getting to the point.

I had my gallbladder out in the Dark Ages.. and even back then it wasn't an OB/GYN issue. ;)

Good luck with the test results!

Tricia said...

Gallbladder/GYN/Gallbladder/GYN? Nope nothing I've ever learned would make me think they were in anyway connected.

I love your HoT. It's fun to learn something new. I had a boyfriend whose mother considered it okay to use euphemistic phrases as long as no one else knew what you meant by them. Their family was undoubtedly the most creative bunch of cursers I ever met.

Tumblewords: said...

If it weren't so out of step, I'd yell LOL but then you'd know I have no teenyboppers (is that passe, too?) to keep me posted. Ah, another downside to aging... Great post, as always...