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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fucking Awesome!

Fun with grammar, via Alterman.

The short version: stick with adverbs.

According to the language in an amendment to the bill for the "Clean Airwaves Act," it would be against the law to say on tv or radio (or someday the webs?) that you had a nightmare in which you were "fucking Shakespeare," or that you think Richard Brome was probably an "ass hole" (note: two words), or that Jonson was clearly enthralled by "shit" and "piss."

But it'd apparently be legal to say that Marlowe is "fucking awesome," or that John Ford is "cock-suckingly brilliant," or that Francis Beaumont is "mother-fuckingly smooth" (though not a "smooth mother f*ck*er"), or that James Shirley could be "cuntishly profane."

Rarely have grammar and the law been so much fun!

Here's the text of the bill:
A BILL

To amend section 1464 of title 18, United States Code, to provide for the punishment of certain profane broadcasts, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That section 1464 of title 18, United States Code, is amended--

(1) by inserting '(a)' before 'Whoever'; and

(2) by adding at the end the following:

(b) As used in this section, the term `profane', used with respect to language, includes the words 'shit', 'piss', `fuck', 'cunt', 'asshole', and the phrases 'cock sucker', 'mother fucker', and 'ass hole', compound use (including hyphenated compounds) of such words and phrases with each other or with other words or phrases, and other grammatical forms of such words and phrases (including verb, adjective, gerund, participle, and infinitive forms).
This raises another question: who would you nominate for biggest @ss h0le among Renaissance authors? I suspect I personally would have found Jonson insufferable, though Shakespeare probably was too in his own way. I'm sure there are better candidates out there.

  • At 11/27/2007 05:59:00 PM, Blogger Hieronimo wrote…

    There are a lot of swears in this post.

    I'm trying to figure out the rationale for why you censor some of them but not others.

     

  • At 11/27/2007 06:51:00 PM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    It's all about what's legal.

     

  • At 11/27/2007 11:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…

    Lyly wrote Pythagoras in on scenes. Staging mathematicians? Sounds like a frig.

     

  • At 11/28/2007 07:59:00 PM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    Indeed. Lyly was all in and on Pythagoras scenes.

     

  • At 11/28/2007 10:30:00 PM, Blogger Flavia wrote…

    S: you've just ensured--and maybe that was the point--that this blog will be instantly blocked by many computers. Dunno if y'all have had this experience, but I've tried in the past to read blogs in, say, the lobbies of hotels or on public terminals at airports and had them identified as having "objectionable content." When I got home, it'd turn out there was a single adjectival "fucking" somewhere in a recent post.

    And H: is the use of "swear," as a noun, a regionalism? I've had a student or two use it in the past--always sweet, innocent students--and I assumed that it was just a childhood holdover (as in, "Mom!!! Bobby just said a swear!").

    I'm familiar with swear words and curse words and curses, but I don't think I'd ever heard swear on its own as a noun until recently.

     

  • At 11/29/2007 10:34:00 AM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    Alas, the airport and hotel readers will not be able to read that post. But, Flavia, do you have any idea how long it might remain blocked? It'd be a shame if we weren't able to continue our tradition of MLA blogging.

     

  • At 11/29/2007 01:30:00 PM, Blogger Flavia wrote…

    I would suspect that the block only applies to material on the URL that you're trying to access. In other words, if there's objectionable content on the front page of a blog--the address you typed in--that page might be blocked, but the front page shouldn't be blocked if the only profanity is located in the archives (since those posts would have a different URL).

    And I've never found this to be true of the wireless available in hotel rooms, anyway, so bloggING should be okay unless you like to blog conferences from places like their hotel lobbies. (A sport too extreme for me.)

     

  • At 11/30/2007 12:27:00 AM, Blogger muse wrote…

    Hee. I get it- adverbs are Mother Uckingly okay!

     

  • At 11/30/2007 10:21:00 PM, Blogger Renaissance Girl wrote…

    Blogging from the lobby at MLA--honestly, just the thought makes me look around furtively. And I'm at home.

     

  • At 12/03/2007 05:22:00 PM, Blogger Innogen wrote…

    Definitely Jonson for Most Insufferable. He would forever be correcting one's grammar. (or should that be "would be forever correcting?" I guess I need such help)

     

  • At 12/03/2007 06:23:00 PM, Blogger Fretful Porpentine wrote…

    Aw, no love for Jonson? OK, yeah, he was a jerk, but he was an interesting jerk. In fact, he's pretty high on my list of Dead People I'd Like To Invite To Dinner (assuming he could be revivified, because the other way is just gross).

    I vote for Barnabe Barnes as most insufferable.

     

  • At 12/03/2007 10:11:00 PM, Anonymous e. fiction wrote…

    Jonson might've been the more outwardly pedantic @ss h0le, but I think Spenser would've given me the heebie jeebies. I'll take dueling (&, yes, constant grammar checking) over brutal colonial administration any day.

     

  • At 12/03/2007 10:13:00 PM, Anonymous e. fiction wrote…

    Oh, and Drayton doesn't exactly sound like the kind of guy you'd want to have a beer with.

     

  • At 12/04/2007 01:06:00 PM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    Do tell, e.fiction and fretful: what might have made having dinner or sharing a beer with Spenser, Barnes, or Drayton particularly bad? I understand that in a larger sense, leading a brutal colonial administration does qualify one as a major a55-h0le, but on a person-to-person level (as long as you weren't Irish), I think Spenser might have been pretty fun. I will admit Jonson has his charms, but, honestly, I think I'd feel thoroughly uncomfortable around him and would come to despise him pretty quickly.

     

  • At 12/05/2007 11:29:00 PM, Anonymous Pseudo-Pedantius wrote…

    Ramus would have been a lame dinner guest. Lame lame lame.

    Where Jonson would correct your grammar, Ramus would throw you to the ground while kicking you and swearing many oaths (adverbially, of course.)

    And then he would just drone on and on about his precious method, like some humorless Lavatch who had discovered one answer for every question.

    Not bad enough? He'd do it all in French.

     

  • At 12/06/2007 09:14:00 AM, Blogger Fretful Porpentine wrote…

    Well, I have to admit that the only Barnes works with which I'm really familiar are The Devil's Charter and the infamous "I want to be a cup of wine" sonnet, but the first one takes anti-Catholicism to new heights, and the second one is just creepy.

    Besides, I prefer dinner guests who don't go around poisoning the fruit. Call it an eccentricity.

     

  • At 12/06/2007 09:14:00 AM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    And then he would just drone on and on about his precious method, like some humorless Lavatch who had discovered one answer for every question.

    That's funny! But then Ramus would diagram the whole experience, and everything would be awesome.

     

  • At 12/07/2007 05:00:00 AM, Anonymous hck wrote…

    @Pseudo-Pedantius :

    I'd assume Ramus would still have retained some of his knowledge of Latin, and thus would be able to converse in a decent language (though, admittedly, with a strange accent).
    He' reorder and redraw the menue so that sonsequences would be clear (if you take course A.1 you'll have to take either dring M.1 or drink M.2, and this will lead to either headache Z.998 or headache Z.999 ... .


    The person I myself would be reluctant to invite is Augustinus Niphus (arguably the best mind of his time, and sometimes even inclined to humour and self-irony, but he still might try to have some of the other guests - or even me! - burned on the stake if that should foster his carreer ...).

     


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