The Best Insults in History and Why We Say Pardon My French


2020-09-12 04:00 Lingua Greca


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Language is expression. It gives life to our thoughts and brings us together as a species. But this expression can take on many forms, some perhaps a little less savory than others. Sometimes we use words to express anger or pain, to attack someone else, or as an aggressive defense mechanism. Vulgarisms, profanity, insults and more – these are some of the elements that dig into what it means to express certain degrees of linguistic intensity. Let’s start with profanity. Profanity may just be one of the finest examples of the flexibility, ingenuity, and artistic creativity of language. It can be highly expressive – transporting a thought or emotion quickly and simply –  or it can be through deliberate, sculpted malice or hilarity. Fear, rage, annoyance, sudden pain, hatred, or simply as emphasis for something bad or good – we cuss to let it all out. It’s therapeutic, empowering, and just plain satisfying.  Insults, on the other hand, are typically words, deeds or implications that cause offense to a person or group of people, be they through embarrassment, harm to something they hold especially dear, or the exploitation of painful memories or circumstances, among others. With this in mind, we quickly realize that the nature of an insult is generally subjective. Insults and profanity are profoundly different and are in no way mutually exclusive. You can insult someone using the prettiest, most socially acceptable language around. “Special snowflake” is a common mild insult these days that can get under the skin, but that contains no profanity – quite the opposite, really. Unless you’re prone to becoming stuck under avalanches, snowflakes are cool and interesting and pretty and harmless. Likewise, you can shout four letter expletives to the sky out of rage, fear, or even joy, without them really being insulting to anyone. When I attempt to say unequivocally that I have the absolute best insults in history, you know I’m being subjective, too, right? Of course you do. You also wouldn’t have clicked the link if the title said “My personal opinion about some insults that happened,” so I think the title is warranted. Clickbait is my friend. After all, the “best” insults are hard to identify and virtually impossible to list since everyone is offended by something different. What is insulting to one person or group may be completely meaningless to another. I know I’m not the greatest writer the world has ever known, but I, like most writers, take it pretty personally when my work is flagrantly attacked in a totally unwarranted way. Every writer does. But many – if not most – non-writers probably don’t care as much. Still, despite this being my list of the best insults in history, I certainly hope that you are entertained and that you learn me —->1If you’re new here, tap these when you see them. You’ll find snide remarks, further explanations, semi-related but non-essential tangents and other fun stuff. You should click them if you have the time. Mobile users will have to tap the box a 2nd time to close it. Desktop users can click anywhere.   The part where I confess I’m not 100% sure how trigger warnings work, but thought maybe something should be attempted:  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this piece contains a great deal of profanity, but at times it also features plenty of moral ugliness. If you’re easily offended by what is literally intended to be offensive language, this may not the post for you. Some of the historical and contemporary insults and quotes to follow later in this article feature no shortage of bigotry, lewdness or downright xenophobia. It includes at times antisemitism, flagrant sexism, homophobia and other isms and phobias of that nature that could be bothersome to some readers. Please understand that most of these are written in a historical context and are in no way representative of my own opinions nor tolerance towards others. I also want to mention that “historical context” should not be misconstrued as “I think it’s fine because it was okay back then so whatever”. Reprehensible content is reprehensible no matter the era in which it was spoken, people were just less cognizant, or less caring, of the impact they had on others. I think that despite all of this, the historical context is important and this piece is definitely meant to be more than just a field guide to being an asshole. Lastly – and I cannot emphasize this enough – this article is not intended to encourage you to go around being a horrible person. Generally, if you can avoid slinging insults at people, the world becomes a slightly better place, and that should be the goal, right? That said….   Categorizing the profane It’s right there in the 4th Commandment:  “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.“ Basically, God is sensitive, so don’t be a jerk or you’ll be sent to bed early without any supper.2Bed means Hell. But what does that actually mean? Etymologically, profanity usually refers to foul language – profane language – that would have been considered sacrilegious, blasphemous, or otherwise disrespectful towards that which is holy. The root word, profane, has its origins in the Latin profanare and profanus, which mean to desecrate or violate, and simply to “be unholy” or “unconsecrated.”  As time went by and the devout continued to complain about what was and was not “profane”, a bunch of other unsavory terms and bodily secretions gradually joined the list of words God hated. While not as common today, you will still occasionally hear people say things like “don’t take Jesus’ name in vain!” when you say something like “Jesus Christ!” after stubbing your toe, or “Oh my fucking God” when they misspell Aschleigh’s annoying name on the coffee sleeve at Starbucks. In fact – it’s actually pretty cool to realize that we still make these exclamations: “Oh my God!, Jesus Christ! Mein Gott!, ¡Dios mio!”, etc. with the subconscious intention of being profane. When you say “Jesus fucking Christ” after almost getting hit by a clown on a motorcycle, you’re not (I presume) intentionally trying to insult anyone’s religion. Even if you don’t believe, you’re essentially exclaiming that this clown and his motorcycling madness are unholy and go against all of which is holy – which is undeniably true. Similarly, other terms for profanity, such as “cursing” or “swearing”, can also clearly be seen to have religious origins. We have long said that we swear to God or by God – this can be either good or bad, but the use of the word implies a religious connection. Curses, magic, hexes, etc, have traditionally been things that Christianity and other religions have shunned, so associating that with which the Church does not agree is a good way to keep a lid on things, so to speak. 3Fun fact: the word “cuss” is just vulgar shorthand for “curse.” It appeared somewhere in the 19th century because people were too lazy to pronounce the letter R. True story.    So, then why is “profanity” still a thing? While there are still people out there who don’t like it when you take the Lord’s name in vain, many of them aren’t necessarily offended by your everyday “bad words”. The very definition of profanity is no longer really what it was, so if you stop and think about it for a few seconds, it sort of starts to become weird that we’re bothered by these words at all. An insult is meant to degrade, remind, or otherwise hurt, but profanity in and of itself is pretty benign, right? Sticks and stones – you know how it goes. If that’s the case, why do people care? Why am I even writing about it at all? Why do we even call it profanity these days? Michael Stevens from Vsauce, one of my favorite YouTube science channels, explains it in a more entertaining and probably clearer way than I ever could, because somehow everyone else’s blog or podcast or website or whatever is better than mine:       I love profanity When I was little, my parents would occasionally utter some sort of curse word. Maybe my mother was being cut off in traffic by someone trying to get to McDonalds before their breakfast menu ended. 4All right kiddies, this was years before they made it available all day long. It used to end at 10:00 AM. Maybe my father remembered two days into a 3 week trip that we left the milk in the fridge. Maybe they just stepped on LEGOs. Regardless of the reason, whenever they’d slip up and blurt out some vulgarity or other, I’d get this tiny rush of amusement before they’d utter some sort of insincere apology we all knew was only said out of a mild sense of socially obligatory parental responsibility. I’m not so sure most people really think swearing in front of children matters one way or another, but according to the unwritten laws of society, it’s still taboo. And of course, that taboo is why they’d follow it up with the ages-old idiom: “pardon my French”. I’m not sure why everyone assumes that French is an especially snappy language, or why exactly we say “pardon my French”, but that’s just how the idiom goes. Or is it…. Sometimes these boxes appear clipped at the end to some readers. Reloading the page usually fixes it. If it doesn’t, that sucks, but it’s not essential to the overall piece. As an elementary student, then as a middle school student, much like you probably did, I began peppering my speech with an increasing number of spicy choice words, gradually pushing the limits of what my parents or teachers would find acceptable. Around about the same time that we started reading classic literature and words started appearing in the texts, English teachers in particular started to become a little more lenient. As each year went by my parents would slowly stop reprimanding the occasionally muttered “shit” when I stepped one of my three long-forgotten LEGO Darth Vaders, missing in action since 1998, or “forgotten” to do my homework at 9:00 on a Wednesday. As I aged, it only increased, and I, like most people my age, steadily threw these words around like firefighters throwing candy at an annual small-town parade. On becoming an adult, I still curse like a sailor, but I’ve learned to be slightly more elegant about it, sometimes. However, one thing remains true – there’s a big difference between cursing because you stepped on sharp toys or locked your keys in your car, and hurling a verbmissile in someone’s direction with the direct intention of hurting them or pissing them off. While I don’t outwardly condone going around telling yo’ mama jokes to every impatient old lady who cuts in front of you in the checkout line5Besides, her mama is dead, so that’s a low blow., it’s still fun to update your arsenal on occasion and entertain yourself with the possibilities – even if you’d never use them. Besides, this way you know what all the kids are saying these days. Perhaps it sounds a little bit paradoxical, but some degree of profanity sets me at ease. When I’m around new people I feel like I have to hold back until the first “shit” flies. Then it’s open season. I prefer it this way. It’s more human, more familiar, and more casual. I recently started a new job, and at the first team meeting I was pretty tense, as I think most people are at new jobs. The moment one (and then a second and third) colleague started cussing up a storm casually, I felt right at ease. There’s a certain uncomfortably heavy load of propriety that we carry with us when meeting new people, and as soon as the cussing starts, part of that weight sheds itself and falls away, and we can begin to be ourselves again. My favorite is when someone swears while conducting a job interview – sets me at ease right off the bat and makes me feel like I can actually speak freely, even if I still keep my own profanity in check. Simply knowing that my potential employer is as comfortable speaking that way to me as I am with them is reassuring. They become human. People who never swear, on the other hand, sometimes strike as very odd. It feels like there’s some sort of barrier between us that will persist until they’re willing to punch a hole through it, and I worry about being judged as some sort of uncouth hooligan. I don’t like having to step carefully around people I see often or am trying to bond with – nobody does. The best insult is not always the one that is the most crass or profane, but instead one that plays the room. Few things are more insulting than a clever, snide remark that catalyzes the amusement of those around you during an altercation. Indeed, as far as I’m concerned, the best insults tend to be little more than targeted stand-up comedy. As I said before, it’s important for us to note that there’s a huge difference between profanity and insults – though the two make excellent bedfellows. The latter are generally intentional attacks on a person, group or other thing. They are designed to hurt, humiliate, anger or otherwise degrade, and that’s not so cool, but again – there’s a time and a place for all things and that place is here and that time is now. Some of the best insults don’t contain any profanity. They push all of the most sensitive buttons, rely on word-play, and are more about personal barbs than outright vulgarities – though sometimes profanity makes for a powerful and amusing garnish. Here are some of my favorite insults, both famous and obscure, profane and mild, that have been hurled between angry mouths throughout history. Some of them are slightly suspect thanks to the age of their speakers and dodgy historical references, but whether they all happened 100% as is claimed or not, someone, somewhere still had to come up with them, and they’re still entertaining. So I say it still counts.   Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks The best bit of hate mail ever, the Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks is actually the title of a famous painting showing the raucous drafting of a semi-legendary letter sent as a bold response to a demand for military surrender. The mid and late 17th century wasn’t era for anyone living in Eastern Europe, the Pontic Steppe, or the planet Earth, really. It was a bad few centuries for pretty much everyone. Everyone was at war with everyone else. Everyone died of war, disease, childbirth, or starvation. Life was generally just not fun at all. Allegedly, in 1676, when the Ottoman Empire, which had occupied land west of the Dnieper River in what is now Ukraine, was busy violently expanding its already massive borders, they ended up losing a battle to the Zaporozhian Cossacks who lived “across the river”. Despite his loss, the exceedingly ballsy Ottoman sultan Mehmet IV had a letter sent to the Cossacks demanding their unconditional surrender and subjugation:     Well, somebody thinks rather highly of himself. In any case, the Zaporozhians weren’t into surrendering. Having none of it, the Cossacks are said to have written a letter I’m sure none of their grandmothers would have approved of. Cossack military leader Ivan Sirko, the guy with the pipe in the painting below, artfully sat down with his buddies and a few casks of vodka, a quill and got to work, replying:     Sick burn, bro. Unfortunately, it is not 100% conclusive that this reply actually was penned by Ivan Sirko, or written by the Zaporozhian Host at all. The original, if there was one, has not been found. The letter we have was written down in the 18th century. Towards the end of the 19th century, Russian painter Ilya Repin fell in love with this letter, as I now have, and created the painting below.7Fun fact: Whether you had actually heard of this guy until now or not, Ivan Sirko was a real man and is still a really big deal in Ukraine, where he is considered a folk hero of near-mythic proportions. Legend has it that he could shapeshift into wild animals and used magic to outsmart his foes. But regardless of whether or not the story behind it is true, someone wrote it, and it’s still scathing. Needless to say, the war didn’t end that day.   Mark Twain on Jane Austen If ever a writer despised another writer, Mark Twain would be that first writer. The second would be Jane Austen. One of the most famous authors in United States history and a man who never, ever looks happy with having his picture taken, Mark Twain, the author of the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, among many others, led a long and colorful life filled with adventure, fame and fortune.8Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens. This is not important information and you will have forgotten it by the end of this article. Another one of his pen names was Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass, which you might not forget. He held many particularly poignant views, including those on imperialism, the dominion of the rapidly growing United States of America, as well as on politics and civil rights – being an ardent abolitionist. So he wasn’t a total asshole. Mark Twain has become one of the Internet’s darling quote factories, posthumously churning out made-up wisdom he likely never said. This is a common trend ignorantly applied to old, dead white men9And Maya Angelou represented in black and white photos with crazy white hair, a trend he shares with Einstein and Lincoln.  However, the Internet aside, many of his actual quotes are pretty cool and [probably] real. Twain was, and remains, well known for his comedic and occasionally fiery wit. Certainly not afraid to apply a fair degree of vitriol to those he thought to be poor wordsmiths – Twain had no issue with most-mercilessly laying into his contemporaries and forebears alike. Numbered among Twain’s list of undesirables were famous names such as James Fenimore Cooper and Robert Louis Stevenson, both also legendary writers of classic English literature. But above and beyond all, his choice words for Jane Austen are enough to give pause to most people: In a letter to Rev. Dr. Joseph Twichell10Twichell was Twain’s BFF and a fellow writer who wrote nothing you, or anyone else, has ever heard of. He also had 11 kids. Yikes. dated September 13th, 1898, Mr. Twain said the following:     That got dark fast. I love this quote because you’re not sure how to feel about it. On the one hand, you are certainly amused, and on the other, probably somewhat taken aback. I guess that’s part of what makes an insult good, though, right? But, Twain really had a bone to pick with Austin so obviously there’s more. A few years later, in 1909, he was at it again in a letter to W.D. Howell:   Wtf, man? Unfortunately – or maybe fortunately by the sound of it – Austen died nearly 20 years before Twain was born, so she never had a chance to make a retort. You can decide for yourself whether you consider Twain’s quotes to be “insults” in the conventional sense. I can see why you may not. However, I’d like to think that if you suggest that a writer’s work is so bad that they should be desecrated, posthumously dismembered, or brutally murdered for it, it probably constitutes an insult.     The best political insults Politics is an inherently messy reality, but despite what your Libertarian cousin Dave says, its essential to a functioning society and it does matter. Politics touch on nearly every single level of life, and not caring about them isn’t something a responsible adult should do.  But, on the other hand, that’s not what we’re here to discuss, and while the messiness of politics raises tensions, causes enormous rifts in morality and compassion between opposing idealists, it manages to spawn some of the most eloquent, entertaining insults ever. Political insults are some of the most delicious to hear or read because political discourse is supposed to maintain a certain level of civility. Clearly, it doesn’t always, but in most cases politicians don’t freak out and assault each other on the floor of Parliament or Congress.11It does happen, though. In 1856, South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks attacked Charles Sumner with a cane on the floor of the US House of Representatives. They were arguing over the abolition of slavery. Here’s the US Senate’s official take on it. However, at the end of the day, politicians are just people and just like the rest of us, they like to throw around insults and profanity too. Here are a couple of my favorites:   Richard Nixon and Justin Trudeau’s Dad In light of the relatively recent tensions between the leaders of the United States and Canada – when US President Donald Trump referred to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as weak willed and meek – I am reminded of a similar exchange between Canada and the US that took place during the administrations of Pierre Trudeau (Justin’s father and former PM), and President Richard Nixon.12The Watergate guy, for my foreign readers who don’t know why this guy is famous, or why they keep mentioning him in in the news in reference to a certain current president who has become the inspiration for numerous other insults and profanities. In 1971, Nixon, while discussing various Cold War related mumbo-jumbo, including stuff about Russia’s Premier Leonid Brezhnev, with then Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, and Assistant for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger, is reported to have referred to the senior Trudeau as “an asshole”. Wow. Harsh… As is the nature of such international word booboos, the White House has only been releasing bits and pieces of the Nixon Administration’s conversations and dealings over the past 20 or so years. However, it came to light recently, confirmed by both the White House, and Pierre Trudeau’s 1993 memoir, that this quote is indeed true. When he learned of this exchange, the Canadian prime minister simply replied: Simple, elegant, not especially stately, but certainly better than the intergovernmental insults we see in 2020. No, it doesn’t make your toes curl, but there’s something smooth about it. It is generally rare in modern politics – or at least it was until 2017 – that a national leader would throw shade at another so directly and brazenly. This may not sound like the inflammatory remark you were expecting on a list like this, but nonetheless, I like it. Maybe I just think Nixon sucked.   Tragically for him, as history would have it, Nixon certainly never did redeem himself and rise to the ranks of “better people”. Unsurprisingly, Dick van Dick earned himself more than one verbal sparring partner during his tenure as Asshole in Chief. Famed journalist James Reston, who wrote frequently for the New York Times during his 50 year tenure also once said of Nixon:   For the most part, nobody has really let Nixon off the hook for the failed hocus-pocus he attempted to pull during his years in office, and I wouldn’t expect them to any time soon. This is probably because until right about now, no sitting president has come quite this close to committing crimes against the state.     Winston Churchill to Lady Nancy Astor Among the United Kingdom’s most famous and beloved prime ministers, Winston Churchill had the mixed fortune of being a relatively charismatic and moderately capable politician with his heart more or less in the right place, exactly when the world was busy setting the bar desperately low.13The bar wasn’t very high when the only real requirement for “having your heart in the right place” was essentially not gassing an entire ethnic group. He is well known because of his tenure as one of the “Big Three”, along with US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin during the World War II era. He oversaw a nation during one of the biggest military conflicts the world has ever known and his side ultimately won, so of course he’s famous. Despite his accomplishments and acclaim, Mr. Churchill, while still considered a legendary British figure, was also quite well known for being a bit of a dick.14And for his love of boozin’ it up, but when your city is being bombed to shit I guess there are worse ways to pass the time in the dark. His sharp wit and inability to hold his tongue, sometimes in sensitive situations, has endeared him to many. However, not all of his contemporaries thought as much. Lady Nancy Astor, American born and the first female member of British Parliament, was not his biggest fan, nor he hers – a fact he made abundantly clear on more than one occasion. She is reputed to have once expressed her sentiment with the line:   To which he rather snarkily replied:   This was hardly the only of their combatant exchanges. Churchill is alleged to have fired other caustic verbal pyrotechnics with regards to her appearance, repeatedly calling her ugly or unworthy of the attention of men. Offensiveness aside, I can’t help but feel like one of the 20th century’s more capable orators could have come up with something better than “ur uggles!” Some additional barbs flung between the two included one of Lady Astor’s own that I think deserves a brief round of applause. Winston was clearly not a fan of Nancy’s election to Parliament, and like the swamp ape he was, he had no issues baring his sexism for all to see, once exclaiming:   Her response:   When compared to the linguistic Zeitgeist we experience on a daily basis today in 2019, the interactions between Churchill and Astor seem somewhat tame or demure – they feel far less blunt than we typically see in this day and age.15Personal grievance: when people talk about “how much more civilized people were” during a given point in history. They were no more civilized then than we are today, and they probably had their own commentary on the good ol’ days of 1890. The Victorians probably lamented the loss of the 1840s, and so on into antiquity. Life was in almost no way better “back then”. While we now live in an era in which calling your head of state a shit-gobbling fuckwhistle on national television is approaching the norm, we must bear in mind that the words exchanged between public individuals were no less demeaning or at times vulgar, they simply take on a dated note. That and nobody was around to record things. I’m quite certain they get much worse.   Boris Johnson on Turkish President Erdoğan And yeah, they do get much worse: To set the stage, this particularly delightful story begins with that famous debacle in 2016 in which German satirist Jan Böhmermann wrote a not-so-friendly joke/poem about sitting Turkish dictator president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This poem sparked outrage when the president attempted to sue Böhmermann for the insult. It became complicated because apparently Germany still had an obscure law on its books from centuries gone by criminalizing the insulting of foreign heads of state. Apparently they just forgot it was there because most reasonable world leaders don’t (historically, at least) go full toddler and start suing foreign nationals when their feelers are hurt.16As someone from the US, a lot of mainland Europe has what I feel are inane speech laws regarding public insults. Basically, they’re illegal. It’s heinous to me, but Europeans, for the most part, seem to think of themselves as more civilized for having these laws, which, of course, bothers me more. They ultimately threw out the case, but it really was a whole thing, actually nicknamed the Böhmermann Affair or Erdogate. It wasn’t actually a very good insult so it doesn’t get to be here. This part is about Boris. Former conservative London mayor, foreign secretary and current British prime minister, Boris Johnson, himself the lovechild of an upturned mop and a racist figgy pudding, entered a poetry contest designed to further mock the Turkish president as a retort to his ridiculous lawsuit with a 1,000 pound prize, and won with this wonder of a rhyme:   All personal feelings for Boris Johnson aside, I will give full credit where credit is due. He deserves that prize money. However, as good as I think that was, it is made all the sweeter by the fact that four months later, Johnson would find himself playing diplomat in Turkey where things got a little, uh, tense.   A few extra political rivalries From the “good people on both sides” serial dunce currently sitting atop the Orange Throne in DC to the leaf-headed nincompoops of the Roman Empire, political insults are the result of what are often raw human exchanges regarding topics of the most severe kind. Politicians such as Johnson, Churchill and Astor are hardly the limits. They may not even be as good as some of these:   John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich to John Wilkes, a political activist: Wilkes replied:   US President Lyndon Johnson on President Gerald Ford:   Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating on John Howard:   Johnathan Aitken on Margaret Thatcher:   I found those here. There are a bunch more political barbs on that site, I just didn’t like them as much. There are countless more political rivalries throughout history that have resulted in some colorful language being tossed about. Many of the profanity and slang terms we use to express our sentiments towards many current world leaders – you know who I’m talking about – have been increasingly creative and vehement. This has been fueled by the collective minds of Twitter and other social media platforms, which for all of their problems have been a spectacular breeding ground for political insults and stabs of every kind.   Insults as a performance art If we can agree that part of what makes a great insult great is its delivery and the impact is has on the participants’ surroundings rather than simply on the opponent, we can quickly see why insults could be seen as something of a performance act and their makers actors. Perhaps it’s some strange remnant of our morbid fascination with watching death and violence such as gladiatorial combat or every movie with Bruce Willis in it. Perhaps we associate ourselves with one party or the other in a verbal duel and enjoy a “sports team effect” of sorts. Regardless, we love hearing others throw insults. For example: one of the most popular .gifs to hit the Internet is this:   Social media culture now uses this carefully curated and modified gem into any number of variations to suit its needs and not a week goes by that I don’t see it appear in the gratuitous word-vomit of a Facebook comments section. This .gif is actually taken from a series of rap battle parodies that appeared on YouTube in 2011. The performer, who goes by Supa Hot Fire on YouTube, “battles” famous rappers while the guys around him intentionally lose their collective shit, usually in his favor. It’s pretty much the perfect .gif for this article. You may have seen these too. Sometimes it looks like this:   Having to explain what’s going on here makes it lose a lot of its fun, and I hate fun, so here we go:   The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie Very much the senile drunken uncle of the modern rap battle – flyting was a bardic tradition with a long and fascinating history. Rather than being an insult in and of itself, a flyte is the often delightful, poetic exchange of insults produced in bardic verse or as a slanderous, often extremely raunchy poem. Popular among medieval Europeans, particularly in Northern Europe, flyting was conducted for numerous reasons, some of which were more lighthearted than others. Two or maybe more individuals would face off and exchange pleasantries with one another that could range from braggadocio or simple accusations of cowardice and “thy mother” jokes 18Yo’ mama jokes aren’t even close to being new. to suggestions surrounding one’s extracurricular activities with barnyard animals. Quite often these bouts of hot air were performed between friends or “friendly rivals” for kicks or as a form of entertainment – like a rap battle – or to settle minor disputes that didn’t quite call for burying a battleaxe in someone’s skull, but that still required some semblance of retort. In fact, in Scotland during the 15th and 16th centuries, profanity in public was made illegal with a stupidly heavy fine of 20 shillings, which is probably something like $400 USD today. In any case, flyting was still allowed as a weird sort of public performance art. Sometimes, they were indeed used as a prelude to actual battles or duels, much like a pep rally for loud, half naked, woad-wearing high school students at homecoming. So, pretty much exactly what an American homecoming pep rally looks like. Flyting comes from the Old English flītan or flite which means to quarrel and to scold respectively. Instances of it appear in everything from Beowulf to the Nordic sagas and Eddas, and works of Shakespeare such as King Lear. The best example I’ve found, and arguably among the most famous Scottish flytes, is an absolutely delightful yet simultaneously horribly xenophobic tirade called The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie, a late 15th century piece from the early Scottish Renaissance performed by William Dunbar and Walter Kennedie at the court of King James IV of Scotland. It’s really long but well worth a read – especially if you mentally pair it with a rhythm of sorts and picture a modern rap battle. I’m not kidding, read this small section and tell me this isn’t a rap battle:     And then:     They both go on for several more “stanzas” each, both scoring high in their bout of bigotry bingo. In this case, both Dunbar and Kennedie were professional, well renowned poets19Very specifically, they were makars, which is basically just a Scottish bard., not just drunken louts in a pub arguing over who gets to sexually assault the milkmaid, and their works were likely presented as a performance act before royals and nobility. It is unclear exactly how much animosity they actually bore towards one another, but it is my guess that if such a performance were to be made in front of a king, it probably required frequent recitation and coordination, thus cooperation, which to me hints to at an amiable distaste at worst. This is called into question, though, by the fact that Kennedie and Dunbar were from separate parts of Scotland, specifically Lothian, where they spoke Scots, and Carrick in the South, where Gaelic was the tongue of choice. These two groups have not always been bffs, especially then. This flyte went on to inspire a string of other Renaissance era flytes over the following couple centuries. I went looking for a nice YouTube video of flyting but all I found what I assume are extremely unpopular Anglo-Saxon history nerds doing classroom improv, which was boring and not exactly what I was hoping for. If anyone has a great reenactment video, share it in the comments and maybe I’ll add it.   The Dirty Dozens And while we’re on the note of rap battles and insult dueling games, I thought that a more contemporary example merited mention as well. Fair warning: most of the information about this activity, its origins and history primarily come from the accounts of white people. Make of that what you will. The Dozens is an insult game most frequently played in the African American community in the United States among the young; teens, young adults, but not exclusively. It consists of two duelists, usually male, insulting each other in turn. Their insults gradually escalate from mild-ish to outlandish until one or the other either breaks and takes something too seriously and becomes offended, demonstrating some sort of “weakness”, or runs out of responses. These insults individually are referred to as “snaps”.  Oh snap! Now it all makes sense. These snaps can be anything from dirty jokes about opponents’ mothers, comments on their sexual preferences, or cleaner and focus around stupidity or weaknesses of another kind. The Dozens can be set to rhyme, in which case it becomes extremely similar to a rap battle. Point in case: Sometimes, these exchanges can come simply in the form of short one-liners. Yo mama jokes are among the most common and most prolific, having become so widely known and used as to have permeated societies that haven’t even heard of the Dozens. The origins of The Dozens are obscure and subject to many different theories – most of which, again, come from white researchers20This doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t correct, just that, well, you know… – that trace it back to the Bantu, Kisii, and other East African groups.   Extempo A slightly more wholesome form of performance banter, Extempo is an improvised, back-and-forth competitive song that is sung alongside a Calypso melody, a musical style that originated in Trinidad and Tobago and is now common throughout the Caribbean.  During a performance of Extempo, the singers use sarcasm, wit and other insults to make fun of one another’s efforts and persons. They are often aimed at praising their own skills while tearing down those of their opponents. These songs would have originally been performed in French creole, but in recent decades have leaned more heavily towards English. Unlike the Dozens, Extempo is usually performed on stage and is less geared towards the insults as it is towards performance value for its own sake. Extempo and Calypso are very important cultural elements and each year, Trinidad and Tobago hosts a competition.   Scary banter and the philosopher’s tone When you think of a philosopher, what do you imagine? Toga-wearing, big-bearded old men sitting around a Greek forum discussing the meaning of life? I suppose to most of us without experience in the field of philosophy, that’s generally what it seems like. We’re taught very little about philosophers and philosophy as a whole unless we specifically study it – and most of us do not. I tend to think of them as generally peaceful academics sitting around debating what it means to be good or evil; whether there is a God or not. Apparently, however, those debates aren’t always ideal dinner table conversation. Proof that philosophers can be huge dicks, especially to each other, isn’t hard to come by if you do a little bit of digging. Søren Kierkegaard was a 19th century Danish philosopher and a bit of a self-righteous git whom you’ve may never have heard of and may likely never hear of again. He focused primarily on lambasting various Christian doctrines and writing mean things about his philosophical contemporaries. I don’t really think he’s especially interesting so I’ll just leave you with this one snort-worthy one-liner:     He died young. Pity.   Also, Nietzsche once referred to Immanuel Kant as:   Then there was that time Noam Chomsky dissed the French. Not one Frenchman in particular, just all of them, collectively. All the French. It wasn’t funny though, just kind of mean and unnecessary.21I’m not sure I’ve ever heard Chomsky say something nice about anything though. I know there are going to be some linguists out there right now, reading this while sharpening their pitchforks, I just find the guy profoundly unlikable. I’m sure he’d feel the same way about me, though.   My bad advice As you can see, some of these insults bear a combination of vulgarity and profound creativity. They’re clever and they’re fun and they often open a window into the use of language among our ancestors – revealing that they’re not all the prim and proper debutantes they’re cast as in movies and books. However, they’re probably not something you can just emulate on a whim in a modern scenario, either. Calling your enemy “the catamite of Tatary” probably won’t really carry the same gravity today as calling them a flaming penguin turd. Not all insults need be vulgar. There’s something amazingly satisfying about simply calling someone a smidgeonly beefwit. Crafting the best vulgar insult is like pairing wine and cheese, and in this modern age of hive-mind creativity that is the Internet, we’re coming up with some better ways than ever to spit venom and it is increasingly easy to mix-and-match choice words. Unfortunately, we’ve all felt the annoyance of having walked away from a dispute of sorts, with it fresh in our minds, then devised the perfect comeback for a situation that has long since passed. You finished your probably unnecessary argument, then realized later with disappointment that referring to your opponent as a sewage-sucking shrimp-dick would have been immensely satisfying. Alas, in the moment, all you could say was “hey, fuck you, man…” “Next time”, you promise yourself, “next time I’ll remember the thing about the shrimp-dick.”  You won’t. The key, for me at least, is to pair a vulgarism – perhaps a body part or sex act- with something completely unexpected, like a cactus, a trombone or a llama, and you come away with something that confounds.  It’s entertaining because the absurd part of the insult catches your audience off guard. Nobody is profoundly injured on a personal level by being called the world champion of butt plug licking, but it certainly has some staying power. The benefits are twofold. Nobody is expecting to be called a piss-thirsty wank-maggot today, or ever, and the sudden surprise of hearing it turns heads and stacks the deck in your favor. As Flytings, Extempo and the Dozens show, laughter on your side is a great weapon, and laughter against you can be as bad as a punch in the kidney. Thence, you keep the ball in your court by being a little bit weird and unpredictable. And like the Dozens, the ideal insult is also very much intended to set the bar quite high for your opponent. You’ve taken the upper hand right off the bat and now your opponent is forced to either come beat you up or match your strike with a clever witticism of their own. Syllable count can be important too. Too short and it’s not as much fun, too long, and you run the risk of overdoing it. Originally, I was going to create a list or chart with some options for you to keep in mind, but I’ve reluctantly decided against that as it began to take things a little bit too far and my editors were already hesitant to let me be as vulgar as I have been, and talked me out of it despite minor resistance on my part. I think you get the gist.   The Internet is an asshole Everyone knows what the Internet has done to our speech, the language we use22I love what the Internet has done for language. Linguist Gretchen McCulloch has a really great book out called “Because Internet” that goes into great detail about this phenomenon in an entertaining way. I highly recommend checking it out!, and more relevant to the topic at hand, the way we use it to tear others down from behind the blue-light glow of a weekend warrior troll. The comments sections of Facebook or YouTube and other social media platforms have become outrageous cesspools of insults and trolling and it has gotten so bad that I’ve become increasingly reluctant to even publish certain content on my own page. Part of writing anything online is preparing for the possibility of rebukes from all sides, something I know this article is itself going to provoke.    Conclusion No matter the level of inappropriate four letter words, bodily references or other base bathroom depravity, the best insults in history, in my opinion, at least, are based around wit and snark, and I think that, for the most part, the insults contained in this piece tick many of the right boxes.  These days, it seems to me that most insults are exchanged online on social media in places such as the comments section of any even remotely political post, or in the comments of any YouTube video. In fact, it is commonly said that journalists should never read the comments sections, and some large news outlets such as the BBC, have actually disabled theirs entirely. I still keep mine on. I prefer being able to have a dialogue with my readers because I’m under the impression that it makes you slightly more likely to want to come back and read stuff again. In any case – exchanges of foul language happen whether they are in person or online. Sometimes there isn’t even an exchange – it’s just you shouting at the news on TV, making yourself feel better about your armchair slacktivism. Now, the next time you accidentally read a foul Fox News headline, you can be ready with your own historically motivated slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune. If you’d like to learn more slang and profanity from the languages you’re learning, try checking out this series. I wrote a pretty hefty review of it a while back in an article titled “Learning Curse Words in a New Language: D!rty Everyday Slang.” Go take a look.
语言就是表达。它赋予我们的思想生命,把我们作为一个物种聚集在一起。 但是这个表达可以有很多形式,有些可能没有其他的那么有趣。有时我们用言语来表达愤怒或痛苦,用来攻击别人,或者作为一种攻击性的防御机制。粗俗,亵渎,侮辱和更多--这些都是挖掘表达某种程度的语言强度的含义的一些元素。 让我们从亵渎开始。 亵渎也许只是语言的灵活性,独创性和艺术创造力的最好例子之一。它可以是极具表现力的--快速而简单地传递思想或情感--也可以是通过故意的,雕琢的恶意或欢笑。恐惧,愤怒,烦恼,突如其来的痛苦,憎恨,或者仅仅是作为对坏的或好的事情的强调--我们咒骂是为了把它全部发泄出来。这是一种治疗,一种力量,一种完全的满足。 另一方面,侮辱通常是对一个人或一群人造成冒犯的言语,行为或暗示,不管是通过尴尬,伤害他们特别珍视的东西,还是利用痛苦的记忆或环境等等。考虑到这一点,我们很快就会意识到侮辱的性质通常是主观的。 侮辱和亵渎是完全不同的,绝不是相互排斥的。你可以用周围最漂亮,最被社会接受的语言来侮辱别人。“特殊的雪花”是一个常见的温和的侮辱,这些天,可以进入皮肤下,但这不包含亵渎-恰恰相反,真的。除非你很容易被雪崩困住,否则雪花是很酷,有趣,漂亮,无害的。同样地,你可以出于愤怒,恐惧,甚至喜悦,对着天空喊出四个字母的咒骂,而不会真正侮辱任何人。 当我试图毫不含糊地说我有史上最棒的侮辱,你知道我也是主观的,对吧?你当然知道。如果标题上写着“我对发生的一些侮辱的个人看法”,你也不会点击这个链接,所以我认为这个标题是值得的。点击饵是我的朋友。 毕竟,“最好的”侮辱很难确定,实际上也不可能列出,因为每个人都被不同的东西冒犯了。对一个人或群体有侮辱性的东西,对另一个人或群体可能完全没有意义。我知道我不是世界上最伟大的作家,但我和大多数作家一样,当我的作品受到毫无根据的公然攻击时,我会把它当成是个人的。每个作家都有。但很多--如果不是大多数--非作家可能并不那么在意。 尽管如此,尽管这是我列出的历史上最棒的侮辱,我当然希望你能从中得到乐趣,并从中学到一些东西。点击我-->1如果你是新来的,当你看到这些时,请点击它们。你会发现尖刻的评论,进一步的解释,半相关但非必要的切线和其他有趣的东西。如果你有时间,你应该点击它们。移动用户将不得不第二次敲击盒子来关闭它。桌面用户可以在任何地方点击。 我承认我不能百分之百地确定触发警告是如何工作的,但我认为也许应该尝试一下: 这首曲子包含了大量的亵渎,这并不奇怪,但有时它也包含了大量的道德丑陋。如果你很容易被字面上的冒犯性语言所冒犯,这篇文章可能不适合你。 在本文后面的一些历史和当代的侮辱和引用中,不乏偏执,猥亵或彻头彻尾的仇外心理。它有时包括反犹太主义,公然的性别歧视,仇视同性恋和其他这种性质的主义和恐惧症,可能会使一些读者感到困扰。请理解,这些大部分都是在历史背景下写的,并不能代表我自己的观点,也不能容忍别人。 我还想提到的是,“历史背景”不应该被误解为“我认为这很好,因为那时候还好,所以无所谓”。应受谴责的内容是应受谴责的,不管它是在哪个时代说出来的,人们只是较少认识到,或较少关心他们对他人的影响。我认为,尽管所有这些,历史背景是重要的,这篇文章绝对意味着不仅仅是作为一个混蛋的实地指导。 最后--我再怎么强调也不过分--这篇文章并不是要鼓励你去做一个可怕的人。一般来说,如果你能避免辱骂别人,世界就会变得稍微好一点,这应该是你的目标,对吗? 说的是……。 对亵渎者进行分类 在第四条诫命中就有:“你不可妄称耶和华你神的名;因为妄称他名的,耶和华必不以他为无罪。 基本上,上帝是敏感的,所以不要做一个混蛋,否则你会被打发早早上床睡觉,没有任何晚餐。2床意味着地狱。 但这到底意味着什么呢? 从词源上看,亵渎通常是指粗俗的语言--亵渎的语言--会被认为是亵渎,亵渎或不尊重圣洁的东西。词根词“profane”起源于拉丁语“profanare”和“profanus”,意思是亵渎或违反,简单地说就是“不圣洁”或“不圣洁”。 随着时间的流逝,虔诚的人不断抱怨什么是“亵渎”,什么不是“亵渎”,于是一堆其他令人讨厌的术语和身体分泌物逐渐加入上帝所憎恨的词汇清单。 虽然今天已经不那么常见了,但你还是会偶尔听到有人说“不要白取耶稣的名字!”,当你用脚趾头碰伤脚趾后说“耶稣基督!”,或者当他们在星巴克咖啡袖子上拼错阿施利讨厌的名字时说“哦,我他妈的上帝!”。 事实上--意识到我们仍然会发出这些感叹:“哦,我的上帝!,耶稣基督!”这其实是相当酷的事情!“我的上帝!”,“我的上帝!”等等,潜意识里有亵渎神灵的意图。 当你在差点被骑摩托车的小丑撞到之后说“该死的耶稣基督”的时候,你并不是(我想)故意试图侮辱任何人的宗教信仰。即使你不相信,你本质上是在惊呼这个小丑和他的摩托车疯狂是不神圣的,违背了所有神圣的东西--这是不可否认的事实。 同样地,其他亵渎的用语,如“诅咒”或“发誓”,也可以清楚地看出有宗教渊源。我们早就说过,我们向上帝起誓或指著上帝起誓--这既可以是好的,也可以是坏的,但这个词的使用暗示了一种宗教联系。诅咒,魔法,六戒等等,传统上都是基督教和其他宗教所回避的东西,所以把教会不同意的东西联系起来,可以说是一个很好的方法,可以说是对事情保持克制。 3FUN事实:“cuss”这个词只是“curse”的粗俗速记,它出现在19世纪的某个地方,因为人们懒得发字母R的音。 那么,那为什么“亵渎”还是一件事呢? 虽然仍有一些人不喜欢你白称主的名,但他们中的许多人并不一定被你每天说的“坏话”所冒犯。 现在对亵渎的定义已经不是以前的样子了,所以如果你停下来思考几秒钟,我们会开始觉得奇怪,因为这些词让我们感到困扰。侮辱的意思是贬低,提醒或伤害,但亵渎本身是相当善意的,对吗?棍子和石头-你知道怎么回事。 如果是这样,人们为什么要关心呢?我为什么要写这件事呢?为什么现在我们还称它为亵渎呢? Vsauce是我最喜欢的YouTube科学频道之一,来自Vsauce的Michael Stevens用比我更有趣,更清晰的方式解释了这个问题,因为其他人的博客,播客,网站或其他任何东西都比我的好: 我喜欢说脏话 当我小的时候,我的父母偶尔会说一些咒骂的话。也许我妈妈是因为有人想赶在早餐结束前去麦当劳而被堵车了。4好吧,孩子们,这是多年以前,他们提供全天候。以前都是上午10点结束。也许我父亲记得在三个星期的旅行中有两天我们把牛奶忘在冰箱里了。 也许他们只是踩到了乐高。 不管什么原因,每当他们失言脱口而出一些粗俗的话或其他的话时,我都会在他们说出某种不真诚的道歉之前得到这小小的快感,我们都知道这只是出于一种社会义务性的父母责任。我不敢肯定大多数人真的认为在孩子面前说脏话有这样或那样的关系,但根据社会的不成文法,这仍然是禁忌。 当然,这个禁忌也是为什么他们会用一个古老的成语“原谅我的法语”来回应这个问题的原因。 我不知道为什么每个人都认为法语是一种特别敏捷的语言,或者为什么我们会说“原谅我的法语”,但这就是这个成语的用法。 或者是…。 有时,这些框在一些读者看来被剪辑在结尾处。重新加载页面通常会修复它。如果没有,那就糟了,但这对整个作品来说并不是必不可少的。 作为一个小学生,然后作为一个中学生,很可能和你一样,我开始在我的演讲中加入越来越多的辛辣的选择词,逐渐推进我父母或老师所能接受的极限。大约在我们开始阅读经典文学作品的同时,在课文中出现了一些词汇,尤其是英语老师开始变得宽松一些。随着一年又一年的过去,当我踩到三个早已被遗忘的乐高达斯维德中的一个时,我的父母会慢慢停止斥责我偶尔嘀咕的“狗屎”,这三个乐高达斯维德从1998年起就失踪了,或者在周三9点“忘了”做家庭作业。 随着年龄的增长,它只会增加,而我,像大多数同龄人一样,不断地把这些话扔来扔去,就像消防队员在一年一度的小镇游行上扔糖果一样。 当我长大成人后,我仍然像个水手一样骂人,但有时我学会了稍微优雅一点。然而,有一件事仍然是正确的--因为你踩到了尖锐的玩具或把钥匙锁在了车里而咒骂,和直接想伤害或激怒某人而朝他的方向扔言语导弹,两者之间有很大的区别。 虽然表面上我并不宽恕给每个在结账队伍中插队的不耐烦的老太太讲你妈妈的笑话,而且她的妈妈已经去世了,所以这是一个很小的打击。但偶尔更新一下你的武器库,用这些可能性来娱乐自己还是很有趣的--即使你从来没有用过它们。另外,这样你就知道这些天孩子们都在说些什么了。 也许这听起来有点自相矛盾,但某种程度的亵渎让我安心。当我和新朋友在一起的时候,我会觉得我不得不忍住,直到第一个“狗屎”飞过。那就是开放季节了。我更喜欢这样。它更人性化,更熟悉,更随意。我最近开始了一份新工作,在第一次团队会议上我非常紧张,因为我想大多数人都在做新工作。当一个(然后是第二个和第三个)同事开始漫不经心地骂起一场风暴时,我感到很自在。 结识新朋友时,我们身上背负着一种不舒服的沉重的礼仪负担,一旦咒骂开始,这种负担的一部分就会自行脱落,然后我们就可以重新做回自己了。 我最喜欢的是有人在面试时说脏话--这让我一开始就很轻松,让我觉得我可以自由地说话,即使我还能控制自己的脏话。只要知道我的潜在雇主像我和他们一样用这种方式和我说话,就会让人放心。他们变成了人类。 另一方面,从不说脏话的人有时罢工也很奇怪。我感觉我们之间有某种障碍,这种障碍会一直存在,直到他们愿意把它打穿,而我担心被人认为是某种粗鲁的流氓。我不喜欢不得不小心翼翼地绕过我经常见到的人或试图结交的人--没有人这样做。 最好的侮辱并不总是最粗俗的,最亵渎的,而是那些无礼的。没有什么比一句聪明,尖刻的话更侮辱人的了,因为这句话能在争吵中激发周围人的好笑。事实上,就我而言,最好的侮辱往往是有针对性的单口相声喜剧。 正如我之前所说的,我们必须注意到,亵渎和侮辱之间有着巨大的区别--尽管这两者是很好的同床共枕。后者一般是对个人,团体或其他事物的蓄意攻击。他们被设计来伤害,羞辱,愤怒或其他贬低,这并不是很酷,但是再次强调--所有的事情都有一个时间和一个地方,那个地方在这里,那个时间就是现在。 一些最好的侮辱不包含任何亵渎。他们会按下所有最敏感的按钮,依赖文字游戏,更多的是个人的讽刺而不是直截了当的粗俗--尽管有时亵渎会成为一种有力而有趣的装饰。 这里有一些我最喜欢的侮辱,既有著名的,也有隐晦的,既有亵渎的,也有温和的,它们在整个历史上都是在愤怒的嘴巴之间抛出的。由于演讲者的年龄和不可靠的历史资料,其中有些故事有点可疑,但不管这些故事是否百分之百地发生在人们所说的事情上,总会有人在某处想出这些故事,而且这些故事仍然很有趣。 所以我说它仍然算数。 Zaporozhian哥萨克的答复 这是有史以来最好的一封仇恨邮件,扎波罗之安哥萨克的回信实际上是一幅名画的标题,画中写着一封半传奇的信件,它是对军队投降要求的大胆回应。 17世纪中后期对生活在东欧,庞帝草原或地球上的任何人来说都不是一个时代。对几乎所有人来说,这都是糟糕的几个世纪。每个人都在和其他人交战。每个人都死于战争,疾病,分娩或饥饿。生活通常一点都不好玩。 据称,1676年,奥斯曼帝国占领了第聂伯河以西,即现在的乌克兰境内的土地,当时他们正忙于暴力扩张已经庞大的边界,结果他们在一场战斗中输给了住在“河对岸”的扎波罗热哥萨克。 尽管战败,胆大妄为的奥斯曼帝国苏丹穆罕默德四世还是有一封信寄给哥萨克,要求他们无条件投降和征服: 有人自视甚高。 无论如何,扎波罗芝人不会投降。据说哥萨克没有这些,他们写了一封信,我敢肯定他们的祖母都不会赞成的。哥萨克军事领袖伊万·西尔科,下图中那个拿着烟斗的家伙,巧妙地和他的伙伴们坐下来,拿着几桶伏特加,一根羽毛笔,开始工作,回答道: 病态烧伤,兄弟。 不幸的是,这封回信是否真的出自伊万·西尔科之手,或出自Zaporozhian主持人之手,并不是百分之百的定论。原来的,如果有的话,现在还没有找到。我们有的这封信是18世纪写下来的。19世纪末,俄罗斯画家伊利亚·列宾(Ilya Repin)爱上了这封信,就像我现在一样,创作了下面这幅画。7有趣的事实:不管你到现在为止是否真的听说过这个人,伊万·西尔科是一个真正的男人,而且在乌克兰仍然是一个非常重要的人物,在乌克兰他被认为是一个近乎神话般的民间英雄。传说他能变形成野兽,并用魔法智胜敌人。 但不管背后的故事是否真实,有人写了它,它仍然是尖刻的。 不用说,战争那天并没有结束。 马克·吐温论简·奥斯汀 如果有一个作家鄙视另一个作家,马克吐温将是第一个作家。第二位是简·奥斯汀。 马克·吐温是美国历史上最著名的作家之一,也是一个从来不为自己的照片而高兴的人,他是《汤姆·索亚历险记》和《哈克贝利·费恩历险记》的作者,也是许多人中的一员,他过着漫长而丰富多彩的生活,充满了冒险,名声和财富。马克·吐温的原名是塞缪尔·朗霍恩·克莱门斯(Samuel Langhorne Clemens),他的名字是塞缪尔·朗霍恩·克莱门斯(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)。这不是重要的信息,到本文结束时您将已经忘记它。他的另一个笔名是托马斯·杰斐逊·斯诺德格拉斯,你可能不会忘记。他持有许多特别尖锐的观点,包括对帝国主义,对迅速发展的美利坚合众国的统治,以及对政治和公民权利的观点----他是一个狂热的废奴主义者。所以他不是个十足的混蛋。 马克·吐温已经成为互联网上最受欢迎的引语工厂之一,他死后编造出一些他可能从未说过的话。这是一种普遍的趋势,被无知地应用到年老的,死去的白人和玛雅·安杰洛身上,在黑白照片中表现为一头疯狂的白发,他和爱因斯坦,林肯都有这种趋势。 然而,撇开网络不谈,他的许多实际引语都相当酷,而且(可能)是真实的。吐温过去是,现在仍然是,以他的喜剧性和偶尔炽热的机智而闻名。当然,吐温并不惧怕对那些他认为拙劣的文字大师施加相当程度的尖酸刻薄--他并不反对最无情地抨击他的同时代人和祖先。 在吐温的不受欢迎的名单中,有著名的名字,如詹姆斯·费尼莫·库珀和罗伯特·路易斯·史蒂文森,他们都是英国古典文学的传奇作家。 但更重要的是,他对简·奥斯汀的选择足以让大多数人停顿: 在写给牧师约瑟夫·特切尔博士的一封信中,特切尔是吐温的好友,也是一个写过你或其他人从未听说过的文章的作家。他还有11个孩子。哎呀。1898年9月13日,吐温先生说: 很快就黑了。 我喜欢这句话,因为你不知道该怎么想。一方面,你肯定很有趣,另一方面,可能有点吃了一惊。我想这也是侮辱好的部分原因,对吧? 但是,吐温确实对奥斯汀有意见,所以显然还有更多的意见。几年后的1909年,他在写给W.D。豪威尔: 怎么了,伙计? 不幸的是--听起来也许是幸运的--奥斯汀在吐温出生前将近20年就去世了,所以她一直没有机会反驳。 你可以自己决定,你是否认为吐温的引语是传统意义上的“侮辱”。我知道为什么你不能。但是,我倒想,如果你暗示一个作家的作品如此糟糕,以至于他们应该因此而被亵渎,被死后肢解,或者被残忍地谋杀,那很可能就构成了一种侮辱。 最好的政治侮辱 政治本来就是一个混乱的现实,但不管你的自由派表兄戴夫怎么说,它对一个正常运转的社会来说是必不可少的,它确实很重要。政治几乎触及生活的每一个层面,不关心政治不是一个负责任的成年人应该做的事。 但是,另一方面,这并不是我们在这里要讨论的,尽管政治的混乱加剧了紧张局势,在对立的理想主义者之间造成了道德和同情心上的巨大裂痕,但它却成功地催生了一些有史以来最雄辩,最有趣的侮辱。 政治上的侮辱是听起来或读起来最可口的,因为政治话语应该保持一定程度的礼貌。显然,这种情况并不总是发生的,但在大多数情况下,政客们不会在议会或国会的地板上抓狂,互相攻击。11不过,这种情况确实发生过。1856年,南卡罗来纳州国会议员普雷斯顿·布鲁克斯在美国众议院的地板上用手杖袭击查尔斯·萨姆纳。他们在为废除奴隶制而争论。以下是美国参议院对此的官方看法。然而,归根结底,政客们只是普通人,就像我们其他人一样,他们也喜欢到处散布侮辱和亵渎的话。 下面是我最喜欢的几个: 理查德·尼克松和贾斯汀·特鲁多的父亲 鉴于最近美国和加拿大领导人之间的紧张关系--美国总统唐纳德·特朗普称加拿大总理贾斯廷·特鲁多意志薄弱,温顺--我想起了皮埃尔·特鲁多(贾斯廷的父亲,前总理)执政期间加拿大和美国之间的类似交流,我的外国读者不知道这个家伙为什么出名,也不知道为什么他们在新闻中不断提到他,指的是一位现任总统,而这位现任总统已经成为许多其他侮辱和亵渎的灵感来源。 1971年,尼克松在与当时的国防部长梅尔文·莱尔德和国家安全事务助理亨利·基辛格讨论各种与冷战有关的胡言乱语,包括有关俄罗斯总理列昂尼德·勃列日涅夫的事情时,据说称特鲁多是个“混蛋”。 哇哦。刺耳的… 正如这类国际词汇booboos的本质一样,白宫只公布了尼克松政府在过去20多年里的谈话和交易的零星片段。然而,最近有消息曝光,并得到白宫和皮埃尔·特鲁多1993年回忆录的证实,这句话确实是真的。 当他得知这一交流时,加拿大总理只是简单地回答说: 简单,优雅,不是特别庄重,但肯定比我们在2020年看到的政府间侮辱要好。不,它不会让你的脚趾卷曲,但它有一些光滑的东西。 在现代政治中--或者至少在2017年之前--一位国家领导人会如此直接和厚颜无耻地向另一位国家领导人投下阴影,这通常是罕见的。这听起来可能不像你在这张清单上所期望的煽动性言论,但尽管如此,我还是喜欢它。 也许我只是觉得尼克松烂透了。 对尼克松来说,不幸的是,正如历史所注定的那样,尼克松肯定从来没有救赎过自己,没有上升到“更好的人”的行列。 不出所料,迪克·范·迪克在担任混蛋总管期间为自己赢得了不止一个口头陪练。著名记者詹姆斯·赖斯顿在50年的任期内经常为《纽约时报》撰稿,他也曾这样评价尼克松: 在很大程度上,没有人真的让尼克松摆脱他在任期间试图搞的那些失败的骗局,而且我也不指望他们很快就能摆脱。这可能是因为直到现在,还没有一位在任总统如此接近于犯下危害国家的罪行。 温斯顿·丘吉尔致南希·阿斯特夫人 在英国最著名,最受人爱戴的首相中,温斯顿·丘吉尔的命运好坏参半,他是一个相对有魅力,能力中等的政治家,他的心或多或少都在正确的位置,而恰恰在世界忙于把标准设置得极低的时候。13当“心在正确的位置”的唯一真正要求是不对整个族群施暴时,标准并不是很高。他因与美国总统富兰克林·德拉诺·罗斯福和二战时期的苏联总理约瑟夫·斯大林同为“三巨头”之一而广为人知。他在世界上最大的军事冲突中领导了一个国家,他的一方最终赢得了胜利,所以他当然出名了。 丘吉尔先生虽然仍被认为是英国的传奇人物,但尽管他的成就和赞誉有加,但他也因有点混蛋而出名。14还有他喜欢喝酒,但当你的城市被炸得一塌糊涂时,我想还有更糟糕的方法可以在黑暗中消磨时间。他敏锐的机智和有时在敏感的情况下不敢闭嘴的能力使他受到许多人的喜爱。然而,并不是所有与他同时代的人都这么想。 出生在美国的南希·阿斯特夫人,也是英国议会的第一位女议员,并不是他的超级粉丝,他也不是他的超级粉丝--这一点他不止一次明确表示过。 据说,她曾用这句话来表达自己的情感: 他相当尖刻地回答说: 这并不是他们唯一的一次交战。据称丘吉尔还对她的外貌进行了其他刻薄的言语攻击,多次称她丑陋或不值得男人注意。撇开冒犯性不谈,我不禁觉得,20世纪最能干的演说家之一本可以想出比“Ur Uggles”更好的东西! 两人之间还发生了一些其他的恶语相向,其中包括阿斯特夫人自己的一个恶语相向,我认为这值得一个简短的掌声。 温斯顿显然不是南希当选国会议员的粉丝,就像他是个沼泽猿一样,他毫不掩饰自己的性别歧视,有一次他大声说: 她的回答是: 与我们在2019年的今天每天所经历的语言时代精神相比,丘吉尔和阿斯特之间的互动显得有些温顺或端庄--他们感觉远没有我们在这个时代所看到的那样直率。15个人的不满:当人们谈论在历史上某一特定时期“人们文明了多少”时。他们那时并不比我们今天更文明,他们可能对1890年的美好日子有自己的评论。维多利亚时代的人可能为失去19世纪40年代而哀叹,以此类推进入古代。“那时”的生活几乎没有比现在更好的了。虽然我们现在生活在这样一个时代,在国家电视上称你的国家元首为一个狼吞虎咽的臭口哨已成为一种常态,但我们必须记住,公众之间的交流用词并没有少过贬低,有时甚至粗俗,它们只是带上了过时的音符。 没人在旁边录东西。我很肯定他们会变得更糟。 鲍里斯·约翰逊谈土耳其总统埃尔多安 是的,他们确实变得更糟: 作为背景,这个特别令人愉快的故事要从2016年那场著名的灾难开始。在那场灾难中,德国讽刺作家扬·伯默尔曼(Jan Böhmermann)写了一首不太友好的笑话/诗,主题是土耳其现任独裁者总统雷杰普·塔伊普·埃尔多安(Recep Tayyip Erdog)。 这首诗激起了总统的愤怒,因为他试图起诉博默曼。这件事变得复杂起来,因为很显然,几个世纪以来,德国仍有一部晦涩难懂的法律,将侮辱外国元首的行为定为刑事犯罪。很显然,他们只是忘记了它的存在,因为大多数通情达理的世界领导人不会(至少从历史上看)在触角受到伤害时,就像一个蹒跚学步的孩子,开始起诉外国人。16作为一个来自美国的人,我觉得很多欧洲大陆对于公开侮辱行为制定了一些毫无意义的言论法。基本上,它们是非法的。这对我来说是十恶不赦的,但欧洲人,在大多数情况下,似乎因为有了这些法律而认为自己更文明,当然,这更让我烦恼。 他们最终放弃了这个案子,但它确实是一个整体,实际上被戏称为博默曼事件或埃尔多安事件。 实际上这不是一个很好的侮辱,所以它不应该出现在这里。这部分是关于鲍里斯的。 英国前保守派伦敦市长,外交大臣,现任首相鲍里斯·约翰逊本人是一个翻转的拖把和一个带有种族主义色彩的菲格布丁的宠儿。他参加了一场诗歌比赛,比赛的目的是进一步嘲弄土耳其总统,以此来反驳他的荒谬诉讼,他以1000英镑的奖金赢得了比赛,并以一首优美的韵文获胜: 撇开对鲍里斯·约翰逊的个人感情不谈,我会给予充分的信任。他应该得到奖金。 然而,就像我认为的那样好,四个月后,约翰逊发现自己在土耳其扮演外交官,那里的局势有点,呃,紧张,这让事情变得更加美好。 一些额外的政治竞争 从目前坐在华盛顿橙色王座上的“两边都是好人”系列傻瓜,到罗马帝国的叶头笨蛋,政治侮辱往往是在最严肃的话题上的原始人类交流的结果。像约翰逊,丘吉尔和阿斯特这样的政治家,很难说是极限。它们甚至可能不如其中的一些: 约翰·蒙塔古,第四任三明治伯爵,对政治活动家约翰·威尔克斯说: 威尔克斯答道: 美国总统林登·约翰逊对杰拉尔德·福特总统说: 澳大利亚总理保罗·基廷谈约翰·霍华德: 乔纳森·艾特肯谈撒切尔夫人: 我在这里找到的。在那个网站上有很多政治上的讽刺,我只是不太喜欢。 在历史上,还有无数的政治竞争导致了一些丰富多彩的语言被折腾。我们用来表达我们对许多现任世界领导人--你知道我说的是谁--的感情的许多亵渎和俚语已经变得越来越有创意和激烈。推特和其他社交媒体平台的集体思维助长了这一趋势,尽管这些平台存在种种问题,但它们一直是各种政治侮辱和攻击的滋生地。 侮辱作为一种行为艺术 如果我们能够同意,一个伟大的侮辱之所以伟大的部分原因在于它的表达方式,并且它对参与者的周围环境而不是仅仅对对手的影响,那么我们很快就能明白为什么侮辱可以被看作是一种表演行为,以及它们的制造者是演员。 也许这是我们对死亡和暴力的病态迷恋的某种奇怪的残余,比如角斗士格斗或每部有布鲁斯·威利斯出演的电影。也许我们会在口头决斗中与一方或另一方联系在一起,并享受某种“运动队效应”。不管怎样,我们喜欢听到别人的辱骂。 例如:最受欢迎的一个GIF是这样的: 现在,社交媒体文化使用这个精心策划,经过修改的宝石来满足自己的需求,而且我没有一周没有看到它出现在Facebook评论区的无端吐词中。这个。gif实际上取自2011年YouTube上出现的一系列说唱战斗恶搞。这位在YouTube上被称为“Supa Hot Fire”的表演者与著名的说唱歌手“战斗”,而他周围的人却故意失去他们的集体大便,通常是对他有利的。对于本文来说,这几乎是完美的。gif。 你可能也看过这些。有时看起来是这样的: 不得不解释这是怎么回事,这让它失去了很多乐趣,而我讨厌乐趣,所以我们来: 邓巴和肯尼迪的飞行 很大程度上,现代说唱乐的老年醉酒叔叔战斗飞行是一个有着悠久而迷人历史的巴尔迪传统。 flyte本身并不是一种侮辱,它是一种常常令人愉快的,充满诗意的侮辱性交流,产生于巴迪诗中,或者作为一种诽谤性的,常常是极其下流的诗。在中世纪的欧洲人中,特别是在北欧,飞行很流行,有很多原因,其中一些比其他的更轻松。 两个或两个以上的人会面对面地互相打趣,从吹牛到简单地指责懦弱,再到“你妈妈”式的笑话。“你妈妈”式的笑话甚至都不是什么新鲜事。以谷仓动物为中心的课外活动的建议。 很多时候,朋友或“友好的对手”之间为了好玩或作为一种娱乐形式--比如说唱大战--或者是为了解决一些小争端,这些小争端并不需要把战斧埋在某人的脑袋里,但这仍然需要一些表面上的反驳。 事实上,在15世纪和16世纪的苏格兰,公共场合的亵渎是违法的,罚款20先令,相当于今天的400美元。在任何情况下,飞行仍然被允许作为一种奇怪的公共行为艺术。 有时,它们确实被用作实际战斗或决斗的前奏,就像是在返校节上为大声的,半裸的,穿着粗布衣服的高中生举行的动员会。 所以,美国返校节的动员会就像是什么样子。 Flyting来自古英语flitan或flite,分别表示争吵和责骂。从贝奥武夫到北欧传奇和埃达斯,再到莎士比亚的作品,如《李尔王》,都出现了这样的例子。 我发现的最好的例子,也可以说是最著名的苏格兰飞行者之一,是一首名为《邓巴和肯尼迪的飞行》的绝对令人愉快但同时又令人恐惧的排外长篇大论,这是15世纪晚期苏格兰文艺复兴初期的一首曲子,由威廉·邓巴和沃尔特·肯尼迪在苏格兰国王詹姆斯四世的宫廷里表演。这本书确实很长,但很值得一读--尤其是当你在脑海里把它配上某种节奏,想象一场现代说唱大战时。 我不是在开玩笑,读读这一小段,告诉我这不是一场说唱大战: 后来呢: 他们两人都继续进行了几个“节”,在他们的偏执宾果游戏中得分都很高。 在这件事上,邓巴和肯尼迪都是专业的,著名的诗人。非常具体地说,他们是makars,基本上就是苏格兰的吟游诗人,而不仅仅是酒馆里为谁有权性侵挤奶女工而争吵的醉汉,他们的作品很可能是在皇室和贵族面前的表演。他们之间究竟有多大的敌意,现在还不清楚,但我猜想,如果要在国王面前表演这样的表演,可能需要经常背诵和协调,这样就需要合作,在我看来,最坏的情况是一种和蔼可亲的厌恶。然而,由于肯尼迪和邓巴分别来自苏格兰的不同地区,特别是洛锡安,他们说苏格兰语,而在南部的卡里克,他们选择盖尔语作为语言,这一点就受到了质疑。这两个群体并不总是好朋友,尤其是那时。 在接下来的几个世纪里,这张照片激发了文艺复兴时期的一系列照片。 我去YouTube上找了一个很好的飞行视频,但我发现的都是极不受欢迎的盎格鲁-撒克逊历史书呆子在课堂上即兴表演,这很无聊,也不完全是我所希望的。如果有人有一个伟大的重演视频,分享在评论,也许我会添加它。 肮脏的几十个 当我们注意到说唱大战和侮辱性决斗游戏时,我认为一个更现代的例子也值得一提。公平的警告:关于这一活动的大部分信息,其起源和历史主要来自白人的叙述。随你怎么说吧。 打人游戏是在美国非洲裔美国人社区的年轻人中最常玩的一种侮辱性游戏;青少年,年轻的成年人,但不是专门的。它由两个决斗者组成,通常是男性,轮流互相侮辱。他们的侮辱逐渐升级,从温和到怪异,直到其中一个或另一个打破,把某件事看得太重,变得冒犯,表现出某种“软弱”,或用尽回应。 这些侮辱被单独地称为“快照”。 哦,太棒了!现在这一切都说得通了。 这些快照可以是任何东西,从关于对手母亲的下流笑话,对他们性偏好的评论,或清洁和集中在愚蠢或其他类型的弱点。几十个可以设置押韵,在这种情况下,它变得极其类似于说唱战斗。 案例点: 有时,这些交换可以简单地以简短的一行的形式出现。YoMama的笑话是最常见,最多产的笑话之一,已经广为人知并被广泛使用,甚至已经渗透到那些甚至没有听说过这几十个笑话的社会中。 这几十种动物的起源并不清楚,并且受到许多不同的理论的制约--其中大多数都来自白人研究人员。20这并不一定意味着它不正确,只是,嗯,你知道…-它们可以追溯到班图人,基西人和其他东非群体。 Extempo Extempo是一种稍微有益于健康的表演戏谑形式,它是一种即兴的,前后竞争的歌曲,与卡利普索旋律一起演唱,卡利普索旋律是一种起源于特立尼达和多巴哥的音乐风格,现在在整个加勒比地区都很常见。 在Extempo的表演中,歌手们用讽刺,机智和其他侮辱来取笑彼此的努力和人。他们往往是为了表扬自己的技术,同时拆掉对手的技术。这些歌曲原本是用法语克里奥尔语演唱的,但近几十年来,它们更倾向于用英语演唱。 与几十种不同的是,Extempo通常是在舞台上表演的,不太倾向于侮辱,而是为了表演本身的价值。Extempo和Calypso是非常重要的文化元素,特立尼达和多巴哥每年都会举办一次比赛。 吓人的玩笑和哲学家的口吻 当你想到哲学家时,你会想到什么?穿着短裙,留着大胡子的老人们围坐在希腊论坛上讨论生命的意义?我想,对于我们大多数没有哲学经验的人来说,这是一个普遍的现象。我们学到的关于哲学家和整个哲学的知识很少,除非我们专门研究它--而我们中的大多数人都不这样做。 我倾向于把他们看作是一群平静的学者,他们围坐在一起,争论什么是善恶;不管有没有上帝。 然而,显然,这些辩论并不总是理想的餐桌谈话。如果你稍微挖掘一下,就不难发现哲学家可以是个大混蛋,尤其是在彼此之间。 Søren Kierkegaard是一位19世纪的丹麦哲学家,是一个有点自以为是的傻瓜,你可能从来没有听说过他,也可能永远不会再听说他了。他主要集中在痛斥各种基督教教义和写他的哲学同时代的卑鄙的东西。我真的不认为他特别有趣,所以我只给你留下一个值得Snort使用的一句话: 他英年早逝。怜悯。 还有,尼采曾经提到伊曼纽尔·康德: 还有一次诺姆·乔姆斯基蔑视法国人。 不是一个特别的法国人,而是所有的法国人。所有的法国人。但这并不好玩,只是有点刻薄和不必要。21我不确定我是否听乔姆斯基说过什么好话。我知道现在会有一些语言学家,一边磨着干草叉一边读这篇文章,我发现这个人非常不讨人喜欢。我相信他也会对我有同样的感觉。 我的坏建议 正如你所看到的,其中一些侮辱承载着粗俗和深刻创意的结合。他们很聪明,很有趣,他们常常打开了我们祖先语言使用的一扇窗--揭示出他们并不像电影和书中那样一本正经,得体的初出茅庐者。然而,在现代场景中,它们可能也不是你可以随心所欲地模仿的。在今天,称你的敌人为“鞑靼人的山羊”可能并不像称他们为燃烧的企鹅粪那样有吸引力。 不是所有的侮辱都需要粗俗。简单地叫一个人“有点笨拙”会让人感到很满足。 制作最好的粗俗侮辱就像是葡萄酒和奶酪的搭配,在互联网这个充满创意的现代时代,我们想出了一些比以往更好的吐槽方式,混合搭配精选词汇变得越来越容易。 不幸的是,我们都感受到了从一场纷争中脱身的烦恼,而这场纷争在我们的脑海中历历在目,然后又为一个早已过去的局面设计了完美的回归。你结束了你可能没有必要的争论,然后失望地意识到,把你的对手说成是一个吸污水的虾鸡鸡会让你非常满意。唉,在那一刻,你能说的只有“嘿,去你妈的,伙计……” “下次”,你向自己保证,“下次我会记得虾鸡鸡的事。” 你不会的。 至少对我来说,关键是把一个粗俗的行为--也许是身体部位或性行为--与一些完全出乎意料的东西配对,比如仙人掌,长号或美洲驼,然后你就会得到一些令人困惑的东西。 它的娱乐性是因为侮辱的荒谬部分会让你的观众措手不及。没有人会因为被称为舔屁股插头的世界冠军而在个人层面上受到深刻的伤害,但它肯定有一些持久的力量。 好处是双重的。 没有人会期望今天或以后会被人称为一只嗜好尿的臭蛆,听到它的突然惊喜会让你转过头来,把牌堆在你的有利位置上。正如Flytings,Extempo和Dots所显示的那样,笑对你来说是一个很好的武器,而笑对你来说就像是一拳打在你的肾上一样糟糕。这样,你就可以通过变得有点怪异和不可预测来把球控制在你的球场上。 和几十个一样,理想的侮辱也是为了给你的对手设置一个很高的门槛。你已经占据了上风,现在你的对手被迫要么来揍你,要么用他们自己的聪明妙语来配合你的打击。 音节计数也很重要。太短了就没有那么多乐趣,太长了就会有过度的风险。 最初,我打算创建一个列表或图表,上面有一些选项让你记住,但我不情愿地决定不这么做,因为它开始有点太过分了,我的编辑已经不愿意让我像我一直以来那样粗俗,尽管我有一些小的阻力,我还是说服我不要这么做。 我想你明白要旨了。 互联网是个混蛋 每个人都知道互联网对我们的演讲,我们使用的语言所做的一切。我喜欢互联网对语言所做的一切。语言学家Gretchen McCulloch有一本非常棒的书,叫做《因为互联网》,它以一种有趣的方式对这种现象进行了详细的阐述。我强烈建议你去看看它!更贴切的话题,我们用它把别人从一个周末勇士巨魔的蓝光背后推倒。Facebook,YouTube和其他社交媒体平台的评论区已经变成了恶言相向,恶语相向的肮脏之地,情况已经变得如此糟糕,以至于我甚至越来越不愿意在自己的页面上发布某些内容。 在网上写任何东西的一部分都是为来自各方面的斥责做准备,我知道这篇文章本身就会激起这种斥责的可能性。 结论 不管是不恰当的四个字母词,身体指涉还是其他低级的浴室堕落,在我看来,历史上最好的侮辱,至少是基于机智和咆哮,而且我认为,在大多数情况下,这篇文章中包含的侮辱都是正确的。 这些天来,在我看来,大多数侮辱都是在社交媒体上的一些地方进行的,比如任何哪怕是带有政治色彩的帖子的评论区,或者任何YouTube视频的评论中。事实上,人们普遍说,记者永远不应该阅读评论部分,而一些大型新闻机构,如BBC,实际上已经完全禁用了评论部分。 我还戴着我的。我更喜欢和我的读者进行对话,因为在我的印象中,这会让你更有可能回来再读一些东西。 在任何情况下,无论是当面还是网上,污言秽语的交流都会发生。有时甚至连交换都没有--只是你对着电视上的新闻大喊大叫,让自己对自己的纸上谈兵式懒散主义感觉好些。现在,下一次当你意外地读到福克斯新闻的污秽标题时,你可以准备好自己的历史动机的离谱不幸的投掷和箭。 如果你想从你正在学习的语言中学到更多的俚语和污言秽语,试着看看这个系列。我在一篇题为“学习新语言中的咒语:D!rty日常俚语”的文章中写了一篇相当大的评论,去看看吧。