What gives ‘cunt’ its offensive power?

LJB_3rd:

The offensive power of words. Don’t forget to emphasize the T.

Originally posted on Strong Language:

The following is a guest post by Kate Warwick.

 * * *

It’s definitely a hand grenade of a word, especially in speech. But is it just the literal meaning of cunt which makes it so offensive? Linguistically, there are other elements of the word which contribute to its force: connotative layers of meaning, its sound and the impact on the hearer.

From the 11th century’s rather off-puttingly named Godwin Clawecunte[1] to the 21st century’s complete cunt, the word has clearly undergone some meaning extension; from literal or denotative to abusive or connotative. It’s notoriously difficult to pinpoint change, of course, but the development of connotative meaning can be seen in Pepys’s 17th century use to mean a sexually active women, ‘he hath to sell such a pouder as should make all the cunts in town run after him’.[2] Later, in Manning’s First…

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The smeg effect

LJB_3rd:

The thin white line between vulgarity and mundanity is disappearing.

Originally posted on Strong Language:

Smegma.

“Ewww”?

I hope so. Smegma isn’t a very common word, perhaps partly because so many of us are circumcised. But what it names (a cheeselike secretion that accumulates under the foreskin and around the clitoris – it’s also called dick cheese) is disgusting and prurient.

The disgust is something that gets worn off with repeated use, however; words lose their vividness as they become fixed idioms. Here, compare these two:

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Action in scene|Shop Talk

girl-in-the-grass-2-54255-mI’ve been thinking a lot about action in scene lately. Turns out I’m not the only one. In fact, according to this gem of a post I found on The Writing Garden, one of my favorite contemporary authors, Chuck Palahniuk, has some great advice on the subject: It’s all about eliminating thought verbs. I’ve reposted it here as I find the font of the original to be difficult on the eyes. Enjoy.

Originally posted on The Writing Garden

This is an excellent writing advice from Chuck Palahniuk. This was first seen on tumblr. Unfortunately, when I clicked on the link, it no longer existed.

But, I still think it’s worth sharing.

writingadvice: by Chuck Palahniuk

In six seconds, you’ll hate me.
But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.

From this point forward—at least for the next half year—you may not
use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands,
Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred
others you love to use.

The list should also include: Loves and Hates.
And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those later.

Until some time around Christmas, you can’t write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn’t like him going out at night…”

Instead, you’ll have to Un-pack that to something like: “The
mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he’d
had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking
sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d
only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.”

Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present
the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character
wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader
wants it.

Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.” You’ll have
to say: “Between classes, Gwen had always leaned on his locker when he’d
go to open it. She’s roll her eyes and shove off with one foot,
leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the
smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her
butt. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”

In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.

Typically,
writers use these “thought” verbs at the beginning of a paragraph (In
this form, you can call them “Thesis Statements” and I’ll rail against
those, later). In a way, they state the intention of the paragraph. And
what follows, illustrates them.

For example:
“Brenda knew she’d never make the deadline. Traffic
was backed up from the bridge, past the first eight or nine exits. Her
cell phone battery was dead. At home, the dogs would need to go out, or
there would be a mess to clean up. Plus, she’d promised to water the
plants for her neighbor…”

Do you see how the opening “thesis statement” steals the thunder of what follows? Don’t do it.

If nothing else, cut the opening sentence and place it after all the others. Better yet, transplant it and change it to: Brenda would never make the deadline.

Thinking is abstract. Knowing and believing are intangible. Your
story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions
and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking
and knowing. And loving and hating.

Don’t tell your reader: “Lisa hated Tom.”

Instead, make your case like a lawyer in court, detail by detail.

Present each piece of evidence. For example:
“During roll call,
in the breath after the teacher said Tom’s name, in that moment before
he could answer, right then, Lisa would whisper-shout ‘Butt Wipe,’ just
as Tom was saying, ‘Here’.”

One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing,
you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your
character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary
character starts thinking or worrying or wondering.

For example: Waiting for the bus, Mark started to worry about how long the trip would take…”

A better break-down might be: “The schedule said the bus would come
by at noon, but Mark’s watch said it was already 11:57. You could see
all the way down the road, as far as the Mall, and not see a bus. No
doubt, the driver was parked at the turn-around, the far end of the
line, taking a nap. The driver was kicked back, asleep, and Mark was
going to be late. Or worse, the driver was drinking, and he’d pull up
drunk and charge Mark seventy-five cents for death in a fiery traffic
accident…”

A character alone must lapse into fantasy or memory, but even then
you can’t use “thought” verbs or any of their abstract relatives.

Oh, and you can just forget about using the verbs forget and remember.

No more transitions such as: “Wanda remembered how Nelson used to brush her hair.”

Instead: “Back in their sophomore year, Nelson used to brush her hair with smooth, long strokes of his hand.”

Again, Un-pack. Don’t take short-cuts.

Better yet, get your character with another character, fast.
Get them together and get the action started. Let their actions and
words show their thoughts. You—stay out of their heads.

And while you’re avoiding “thought” verbs, be very wary about using the bland verbs “is” and “have.”

For example:
“Ann’s eyes are blue.”

“Ann has blue eyes.”

Versus:

“Ann coughed and waved one hand past her face, clearing the cigarette smoke from her eyes, blue eyes, before she smiled…”

Instead of bland “is” and “has” statements, try burying your details
of what a character has or is, in actions or gestures. At its most
basic, this is showing your story instead of telling it.

And forever after, once you’ve learned to Un-pack your characters,
you’ll hate the lazy writer who settles for: “Jim sat beside the
telephone, wondering why Amanda didn’t call.”

Please. For now, hate me all you want, but don’t use thought verbs. After Christmas, go crazy, but I’d bet money you won’t.

(…)

For this month’s homework, pick through your writing and circle every “thought” verb. Then, find some way to eliminate it. Kill it by Un-packing it.

Then, pick through some published fiction and do the same thing. Be ruthless.

“Marty imagined fish, jumping in the moonlight…”

“Nancy recalled the way the wine tasted…”

“Larry knew he was a dead man…”

Find them. After that, find a way to re-write them. Make them stronger.

Thanks Hiraku! (via wingedbeastie)

This reminded me of the process of drawing narrative without a narrative voice or thought bubble.

(via d-pi)

 


Writing Lesson: Observation|Shop Talk

LJB_3rd:

A great bit of advice from Theodora Goss. Worth the read.

Originally posted on Theodora Goss:

I thought it might be interesting to put down some of the things I’ve learned from teaching writing.  From writing too, of course, but I find that when I teach writing, I tend to make certain points over and over.  Because these are the sorts of things that many writing students need to work on.  So I thought they might be interesting to point out here as well, for those of you who are writers, or who simply want to improve your writing . . .

The first one I want to talk about has to do with observation.  If you want to be a writer, you need to also be an observer . . . someone who is curious about the physical world around you. I don’t know about you, but I find it harder to write about the physical world than about mental states. It’s easy enough to…

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Mid-class bathroom breaks land students in the poo

0-days-since-a-nonsence-01-293x300
Originally posted in The Anchor

Joe King–Mediocre Investigative Journalist

If you’re looking to pass this semester, you may need to hold it. In accordance with the new Classroom Requirements of Accepted Protocol policy, Rhode Island College students are now forbidden to use the restroom during class periods.

The CRAP policy went into last Wednesday and was met with immediate student outrage.

“Do you believe this CRAP,” asked senior English major, Tom Dunn. “I mean, I nearly soiled my britches all because a few uptight professors can’t get going without some prune juice? What a crock!”

What’s more, the CRAP policy doesn’t just mean students aren’t allowed to leave the classroom for a much-needed bathroom break; the restrooms on campus will now be monitored via card swipe. If students would like to visit the restrooms in Craig Lee, for instance, they must swipe their student ID cards; if they’re supposed to be in class at the time of the swipe, the door will not open.Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 9.14.27 PM

According to CRAP policy co-writer and professor of English, Katerina Knickyknack, the new policy addresses her needs of firm control.

“When a student leaves during class to use the restroom, it is disruptive and extremely rude to both the class and myself,” said Knickyknack. “They can either go before class or hold it. And on a note of personal preference, I no longer allow water bottles in any of my classrooms; I like to avoid disruption at all costs.”

After the first day of hosting this new CRAP policy, the college community witnessed the onset of an angry student mob during Wednesday night’s Comrades-in-Arms meeting. Student Committee of the Communist Party commissar, Jim Brady, met the mob head on with sympathetic righteousness.

“Students—my people—I understand your plight,” started Brady. “The SCCP shall flush this excrement through the foul sewers of your fair college. Never again will you wallow in this CRAP policy.”

The steamed mob cheered, but the mood swung when a random student shouted.

“This new policy is shit!”

The commissar was quick to address the potty-mouthed student.

“Sir, I shan’t have such filth spoken in my chambers,” said Brady. “We go out of our way to speak without expletives—I’d appreciate if you would do the same.”

After the room took in Brady’s brilliance, a dictate was offered by the commissar himself to abolish the CRAP policy. The SCCP exploded with cheers for their wise leader and sang songs of praise to his eminence.

When policies such as CRAP are enforced, it is up to the students to take matters into their own hands. And when that fails, they find guidance in a strong student leader—the voice of the people. So, if you’re finding it hard to pass this semester, don’t force the issue. Instead, just relax—unclench those butt cheeks—and administer a much needed enema.

 


Existential Crises in a Halloween town

Originally posted in The Anchor

Joe King–Mediocre Investigative Journalist

"Students may have sat around campus last week, mouths agape and staring off into the distance as campus life as we knew it came to a grinding halt. But we simply won't know."

Providence is ready to embark on a year-long Halloween expedition, but is the existential problem of dressing up everyday worth free candy?

Providence citizens began preparing for a year-long Halloween initiative last October, and this week the wait finally ended. Thousands of kids trapped in adult bodies collected numerous costumes over the past few months, but now that the time has come to dress up, a worrisome question looms on the horizon of the city’s pumpkin-lined streets: Is an existential crisis worth free candy?

According to the fine folks of West Framingport, a small town tucked away in northwestern Rhode Island that adopted a similar movement five years ago, the crises stemming from struggles with self identity vary amongst the townspeople. For former Navy officer Brian Moran, the year-long celebration has come with an interesting caveat.

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