Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sucks rocks

Seth Stevenson expounds in Slate on the de-vulgarization of suck (as also mentioned earlier here):

Sucks is here to stay. And what's more, it deserves its place in our lexicon, for a couple of reasons. First, it's impossible to intelligently maintain that sucks is still offensive. The word is now completely divorced from any past reference it may have made to a certain sex act. When I tell you that the new M. Night Shyamalan movie sucks (and man, does it suck), my mind in no way conjures up an image of a film reel somehow fellating an unnamed beneficiary.

And he makes this observation, which (who knows?) might end up applying to to pimp:
And take heart, sucks-haters. Soon enough, another bit of slang will come along and gain entrance into our common language, and it will be vastly more offensive than sucks ever was.
Via Nicole Stockdale.


Anonymous said...

Seems like a direct example of the "society loosing it's morals" argument that I used to hear from my parents--before I became one! As an editor, I understand that the language changes. However, I do have to hold the line somewhere. Offensive slang is still not allowed to go by my desk unquestioned.

WordzGuy said...

I think the issue is at what point a term once considered offensive no longer is. Perhaps when those who still remember its vulgar origins have all died off.

Anonymous said...

Count me in as someone who still finds it offensive. It has its place, but when it's every other word out of someone's mouth, it really bothers me.

Anonymous said...

Strikes me that it sucks to be me, because it still grates on my ear to hear the ever expanding use of "pimp" this and "pimp" that. It coarsens the ordinary speech that I must hear, and that my grandkids will use unthinkingly, repetitively, and offensively in the future. Women should be especially offended by this usage, for the obvious reason. Pimps are not cute, amusing, or anything but lazy, stupid men who support themselves by selling the sexual favors of women who are too injured by circumstance to realize how demeaning it is. WHEW! Guess I really don't like it, hmm? I love our living, changing language, and all the many words from which we may choose, so why not use better ones?
Love your blog.
Sto Pro Veritate

Anonymous said...

I actually see "pimp" in this usage reinforced (?) shored up (?) by both "pumped" and "primped"...
any comments?

Gary Bisaga said...

What amazes me is that somebody apparently educated thinks it impossible to intelligently maintain something for no other reason than this person declares it so. That's like somebody declaring by fiat that some racial epithet is no longer offensive because its etymology no longer leaps to anybody's mind. The very fact that this Slate author had to make such a high-handed declaration should tell us that it is, like much of what comes from that journal, untrue, at least once you leave the cozy like-thinking clique of its writers and readers.

It should be clear that something is offensive as long as there are people who think it is. And people who wish to make a good impression beyond their own clique should try not to use words that clearly do give offense to some possible circle of their listeners or hearers.