We’re looking at words, maybe a few sentences, but the important thing to remember is that we’re looking at why, and when. What’s the point of knowing words and phrases, if we don’t know where they’re from or what they mean, or why we use them now. I will offend you, sorry and all. Perhaps.
Ok, I know most people hate it, but it is a fantastic word. Let’s just roll it around for a while. The C-word, dreaded, horrific and vulgar. Cunt. It’s so satisfyingly awful. Cunt. Go on, try it out, I personally give you permission, and if anyone complains at you, simply point out, “It is a historically accurate word, abused by the masses, twisted away from it’s original, regal term, reduced to a simple, but deeply offensive expletive.”
The original usage of the delightfully abhorrent word was during the reign of King Charles II, when it was an upper-class word, for upper-class people, don’tcher know. There was a road down the side of Embankment in London called Gropecunt Lane. It was where the nicer class of prostitutes used to ply their wares. Sadly, as dockers, and other ne’er-do-wells started using it, the rich backed away, leaving all association with the word behind. Thus cunt stopped being a nice, posh word, and became a foul expression of displeasure at a person or thing. What a cunt.
Feeling a little smug yet? No? Ok, on to the next one. We use so many nautical terms day to day, I’m amazed we don’t have gills. “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”. Sailors would occasionally be asked to administer the whipping punishment to another sailor, the bargain was, if one offered to do the others whipping gently, he might be persuaded to return the favour, if it was called for. “Not enough room to swing a cat”. Simply, there is not enough room to swing a ‘cat-o-nine-tails’. Or, the standard ship whip, a nine ‘tailed’ whip.
Perhaps I can take your fancy with “Dutch courage”? During the great plague of London, the Dutch were the only people who would trade with our disease riddled shores. They would precede their visit to the sad and disgusting ports of ours by having some strong liquor. Hence, building up Dutch courage. By the way, as payment for this care, the Dutch are the only ships that don’t get charged any kind of docking tax and have Freedom of the Thames. And have done since 1665.
Swearing, in general, has an amazing affect on the human brain. The act of swearing, in itself, forces the brain to release endorphines, or happy, pain-free, chemicals. Swearing when stubbing our toe or something does actually help, because it forces the brain to help the rest of the nervous system. Lucky us. So be a little less careful with that hammer next time, and enjoy having free rein with cursing.
Ah, free rein? From horses, giving them enough movement in their rein, they’re not being pulled in a specific direction. A choice.
Which brings me back to words.
Cleave has two definitions in the English language. 1. To split apart or asunder. 2. The push together. Hence, cleavage. Try not thinking of that next time you see boobs, yours or otherwise.
Space, the final frontier, and either fantastic or terrifying. Wide open spaces, good, if you’re not agoraphobic, some space to yourself, good if you’re not schizophrenic. Space apart, great as long as it’s a defined space. Otherwise, just like all the others, it’s horrifying, heart breaking and eventually just plain shit.
The English language is brilliant, so soft and yet so hard. So easy, yet so complicated. A boxing ring is square, but only because it used to be round. A chef would never desert his dessert in the desert. A doctor once wound a bandage around the wound. We pick and choose which words we want to steal from elsewhere, like entrepreneurs. Ironically enough.
But for all our words and phrases, some can never be fully understood. A turn of phrase can never be fully explained in terms of emotions. Like, I love you, or I promise. It’s easy to say, hard to feel. And should be thrown around. Those and I’m sorry, forever being thrown around like a cheap streamer at a party for wankers.
So, in closing on todays lesson of useless, yet incredibly informative and useful literary information, I ask you all to pick a word, any word, something random, like discombobulate, learn it. Embrace it. Enjoy it.