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Anachronisms

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Sun December 28th, 2008, 6:00 pm

[
EC, in medieval stories you often find characters swearing by bits of their favourite saints- "By St Euphemia's little finger!" etc. Did this in fact happen- was it a medieval way of diluting a curse by not actually using the names of God or Christ?
[/QUOTE]

I don't know that one Annis - though I probably know someone who does and I can ask her next time I speak to her. I'd be interested to know myself! I've not read that many translations of primary sources not written by clerics and men of the church - who are less likely to insert such blasphemies. In the Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal it's mostly God and Christ who get sworn by. John Marshal tells the Empress Matilda to get her legs astride the horse before they're outrun. 'So help me Christ.' 'Si m'ait Jesu Crist.' Henry II says 'Par les ielz Dieux!' or 'By God's eyes!' Richard the Lionheart says 'Por les gambes Dieu!' or 'By God's legs!'
As far as I recall there is no swearing by saintly parts at all in this particular primary source, it's all Big Deity body parts.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Kveto from Prague
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Post by Kveto from Prague » Sun December 28th, 2008, 6:02 pm

[quote=""annis""]Posted by Volgadon
Kipling wrote that the Irish, particularly in their own battalions, have not the relief of swearing as other races do. Their temperament runs to extravagant comparisons and appeals to the Saints, and ordinary foul language... is checked by the priests.

I imagine that the priests would have been most concerned with preventing the use of blasphemy, which still had shock value into the nineteenth century.
The whole point of swearing is to shock, and using words relating to sex and elimination only really became common as society became more secular.
Where we go to from here now nothing seems to shock us, I don't know!

EC, in medieval stories you often find characters swearing by bits of their favourite saints- "By St Euphemia's little finger!" etc. Did this in fact happen- was it a medieval way of diluting a curse by not actually using the names of God or Christ?[/quote]

hi annis :-) . i think the shocking words are cyclical. words lose meaning in common usage but other shocking words take their places, often words which may not have been shocking in the past.

the N-word (n*gg*r) is an example. it was a much less shocking word in the past. Conrad titled his book "the N*gg*r of the Narcisiss" and intended no disrespect to anyone. that was the appropriate word for his purposes. but now its basically an unusable word in most circles.

"Jap" was a common WWII word which is frowned upon today.

"c*nt" varies but in american English it's an untouchable word, or at least very, very vulgar. (less so in the UK from my experience)

im sure we can come up with more. its just the words which are somewhat shocking to us like "sh*t" and "f*ck" will one day seem like "by gods teeth" to later generations i think.

im really curious about the answer to the saint question as well :-)

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Volgadon
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Post by Volgadon » Sun December 28th, 2008, 6:07 pm

Kipling was making the point that they didn't swear as the English did, no blasts or damns, but made fancy appeals to the saints. Foul language was merely crude.

EC, in medieval stories you often find characters swearing by bits of their favourite saints- "By St Euphemia's little finger!" etc. Did this in fact happen- was it a medieval way of diluting a curse by not actually using the names of God or Christ?
I don't think that is diluting a curse, merely using one not quite as strong.

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Post by annis » Sun December 28th, 2008, 6:26 pm

What I'm thinking, Volgadon, is that swearing by the body parts of a saint, instead of those of God or Christ, would be similar to saying "Gosh" instead of "God". It wouldn't make the curse any less heart-felt, but would be a euphemism. (Hence St Euphemia :) )

Interestingly, Down Under we still have in common use one of the old blasphemous phrases, though most people probably wouldn't be aware of it .
"Strewth" (written as such) is often used here as an exclamation, and is a corruption of the original "God's truth"

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Kveto from Prague
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Post by Kveto from Prague » Sun December 28th, 2008, 6:45 pm

[quote=""annis""]What I'm thinking, Volgadon, is that swearing by the body parts of a saint, instead of those of God or Christ, would be similar to saying "Gosh" instead of "God". It wouldn't make the curse any less heart-felt, but would be a euphemism. (Hence St Euphemia :) )

Interestingly, Down Under we still have in common use one of the old blasphemous phrases, though most people probably wouldn't be aware of it .
"Strewth" (written as such) is often used here as an exclamation, and is a corruption of the original "God's truth"[/quote]


cool one. i wonder what other "leftovers" youve got down there. Is that just Kiwi or do Aussies use it as well?

and whats the number between 65 and 67? :-)

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Volgadon
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Post by Volgadon » Sun December 28th, 2008, 7:07 pm

What I meant is that there is a difference between euphemisms and milder swear words. Damn is not a euphemism for g-damn just as a I don't think that using a saint was either.

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Post by annis » Sun December 28th, 2008, 7:28 pm

Posted by keny
Is that just Kiwi or do Aussies use it as well?
"Strewth" (God's truth) is used equally in Australia & New Zealand, keny.
I can't think of any others offhand.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sun December 28th, 2008, 8:46 pm

[quote="annis;
I imagine that the priests would have been most concerned with preventing the use of blasphemy, which still had shock value into the nineteenth century.
The whole point of swearing is to shock, and using words relating to sex and elimination only really became common as society became more secular.
Where we go to from here now nothing seems to shock us, I don't know!
[/quote"]

Oh, that's easy! Radio commentators lose their jobs for using words that refer in a negative manner to gender, sexual/lifestyle choices, national origin, skin color, and any religion except Christianity.
And more is coming. Soon we will have to add any easily understood terms ('poor' has become 'under-resourced' nor for one of my friends), 'fat' has so many euphemisms it's hard to figure out how to refer to it, etc.

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Volgadon
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Post by Volgadon » Sun December 28th, 2008, 9:27 pm

[quote=""annis""]Posted by keny


"Strewth" (God's truth) is used equally in Australia & New Zealand, keny.
I can't think of any others offhand.[/quote]

Blimey (God blind me).

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Post by annis » Sun December 28th, 2008, 9:51 pm

Agreed, MLE, PCism has reached the point of creating jargonistic obfuscation (love that word!) wherever you go. This is what happens when you're not allowed to call a spade a spade anymore, but have to describe it as a digging implement- not only is it clumsy, but the precision of meaning is lost.
I can feel the presence of gyrehead's shiny new soapbox beneath my feet :)
This is an example of local authority jargon ( not PCism) which had me saying "Strewth!" the other day.
<As part of the project Council has initiated several things to progress rural addressing>
Bring back English, I say!

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