Swearing 1.0.1


A lot of people say that it’s a lack of vocabulary that makes you swear.
Rubbish. I know thousands of words but I still prefer “fuck”.

Billy Connolly (1998)

There seems to be a lot of misconception nowadays on the beautiful topic of swearing. People do it incorrectly, un-intelligently, with an appalling lack of imagination, and without the use of proper terminology.

While people swear a lot and with admirable zeal, the terms used for swearing (especially those describing particular person being the target of one’s affections) seem to be hardly distinguishable from one another, and are totally left to the swearer’s own devices. This absence of comparative analysis is not only linguistically demeaning, but also confuses those being sworn at, leaving them no possibility of understanding the cause of the swearer’s anger, and no room for improvement. How can you get better, if somebody tells you that “You are an asshole, because you are such a dick!”?…

If you look up any of the most common swearing terms (from a respectable Merriam Webster’s or Oxford Dictionary [who generally shy away from the world of swearing] to the online Urban Dictionary compiled by everyone and their mother online) you get even more confused. Beautiful terms like “Asshole”, “Dick”, “Jerk” or “Jackass” are explained using one another, allowing no room for truly understanding the intricate beauty of the shades of meaning, and leaving many native speakers and enthusiastic learners of the English language poorly prepared for the bright swearing future ahead of them.

There is a fine line between an “Asshole” and a “Dick”, and after digging through the dictionaries, annoying my British, American and Irish friends, I am ready with my totally biased attempt at clarifying the confusion. To further strengthen the well-known point that you don’t really learn to swear until you learn to drive, I included little illustrations from every driver’s life to make the descriptions provided more vivid (thank you, Con, for the inspiring examples!)

So, buckle up, and get yourselves ready for some comparative swearing.

Asshole

Step aside, amateurs – finding the proper definition of an asshole is a job for real science! Nobody pinpointed that elusive trait (or, rather a combination of them) that really classifies somebody as a right asshole better than Aaron James in his “Assholes. A Theory”. Kids, read and learn:

Asshole:
(1) allows himself to enjoy special advantages and does so systematically;
(2) does this out of an entrenched sense of entitlement; and
(3) is immunized by his sense of entitlement against the complaints of other people.”

Now, the main identifiers here are systematic nature of such behavior, the reason a person behaves in an asshole way, and their complete disregard for their fellow human beings. If somebody cuts you off in traffic, almost hits you while talking on the phone – he may or may not be an asshole. If he did so because he was in a hurry due to an emergency, he may be a twat in a hurry. If the reason for this behavior was simply an unfortunate fact that his eyes and/or hands were growing out of his ass – he may as well be a wanker. To deserve a proud name of an asshole one has to do so repeatedly, and out of sense of entitlement (which brings out arrogance and obnoxiousness), the feeling that he owns the road and does not give a shit about anybody else.

How to recognize:
Asshole is someone who cuts you off in traffic in their brand new black BMW and when you beep the horn ignore you completely (remember, you do not exist to an Asshole!). If physics allowed, an Asshole would drive right through you. An Asshole knows what an indicator is, but refuses to use one on the grounds that this is his road. An Asshole does not recognize your right to be on his road and displays utter contempt for all trespassers.

Main quality:
Obnoxious superiority and complete disregard of others

Jackass (>Am.)

A jackass is not necessarily evil, but is definitely snide. Somebody badmouthing others behind their backs, making nasty comments, cutting corners out of a sheer sense of entitlement, while not being overly elegant about this behavior, and often doing this in a downright dumb manner – sounds familiar? This is a portrait of a proper jackass!

Jackass-ness is a rather permanent state of being, although occasional jackasses are also sometimes observed. In a nutshell, a jackass is a stupid asshole.

How to recognize:
A Jackass will also cut you off, this time in a supped up lime green VW Golf with speed stripes and that really annoying-looking aerodynamic thing on the trunk. If you beep, he will give you the finger with gusto, employing Italian style hand movements. His job is to make your daily commute unbearable, he is confrontational and aggressive and generally quite young. Don’t expect logic from a Jackass – he is just a stupid asshole after all!
Unless extreme measures are taken early, a Jackass grows up to be a Jerk.

Main quality:
Obnoxious sense of entitlement

Jerk

Jerk is rather similar to a jackass, but represents a stronger and more permanent quality of stupid asshole-ness… There are no occasional jerks – being one is a choice, not a chance. Consistent and deliberate nastiness is expected to deserve the title, and a certain degree of bluntness of their ways is a given.

How to recognize:
His shiny and expensive car is the one you see parked diagonally right in the middle of two parking spaces in a packed parking lot. A Jerk will have trouble opening his own door this way, but he just can’t be arsed to re-park. Instead, a Jerk will leave fresh scratch marks on a car that is innocently parked nearby, and will make sure to shoot off before the owner comes back.

Main quality:
Blunt deliberate obnoxiousness

Dick

While being a “dickhead” can be an occasional occurrence, if somebody is a dick, chances are – they are staying that way! Calling somebody a dick implies them being stupid, selfish, and arrogant on most occasions you or others interact with the individual.

How to recognize:
A Dick is a pompous ass in a big SUV or a brightly-colored sports car, who rides your ass for 10 minutes, honking and flashing his lights demanding the right of way, then cuts you off and slows down to below speed limit.

Main quality:
Arrogant stupidity

Dickhead

One of the entries in the Urban Dictionary states that a dickhead is “a person who is an idiot and shows it all too well”. It is true, but as they say “terms and conditions may apply”.

A dickhead is only an occasional idiot. We all can be dickheads on occasion, but the term does not imply any fundamental or permanent character flaws. A dickhead doesn’t need to act in a stupid way systematically to deserve the title. They do, however, need to behave like an idiot AND do so in a rude and obnoxious manner at the same time. A dickhead can also be described as an annoying twat. Take the enthusiasm out, and a dickhead turns into a twat.

A classic Dickhead is somebody who consistently behaves in an annoying and idiotic manner, but expects different results every time.

How to recognize:
A Dickhead can often be seen cutting lanes in heavy traffic, looking for the faster way to get wherever his dickhead business is taking him. He usually drives a battered Toyota Corolla, but acts as if it’s a Bentley. He honks enthusiastically and flips birds left right and center, sincerely believing that everyone else around him is a dickhead, just not him.

Main quality:
Stupid persistence

Twat (>Brit.)

A twat is a dickhead without enthusiasm. While not the most noble of species, a twat acts in a stupid way either out of stupidity or laziness, but always in a selfish way. In most cases twat’s intentions are far from noble, but he just does not give a shit what others might think or feel.

How to recognize:
A Twat is the one firmly stuck in the fast lane going at least 5 km under the speed limit. He ignores all beeping and honking behind him, and collects a long tail of admirers in his wake until he gets off the road, cutting through two lanes of traffic at same speed and giving everyone the finger.

Main quality:
Not giving a shit

Wanker (>Brit.)

A wanker takes lack of enthusiasm to a whole new level. He behaves like an idiot without realizing it, and does so out of stupidity and laziness combined.

There is a fine line between a wanker and a twat – a wanker is usually a completely useless person devoid of any personality: no brain, no spine and a head full of shit. A twat at the same time does possess some redeeming qualities – a twat may not be stupid, but will behave in a stupid way. A twat may not be selfish, but will act so. A wanker, on the other hand, will simply not have the brain capacity to muse over such matters.

How to recognize:
A Wanker will turn right from the left lane, and vice versa. He is driving an old Chevrolet,  a Pontiac, or anything else proudly produced by the General Motors corporation (because somebody has to make rental cars, right?) with broken taillights, paint peeling off, and a tail of oil dripping from the engine that is in desperate need of service. The only part of the car a Wanker actually pays attention to is the windows, which will always be tinted. A Wanker tends to yap incessantly on his cell phone, or stop suddenly in the middle of the road to check the map, or just try to remember where he was going to. A Wanker can also be recognized by loud ghetto music blasting from behind the tinted windows. If you see a Wanker on the road – pull off immediately, and wait for them to pass. Avoid trailing behind them at all costs.

Main quality:
Absence of brain

Cunt

Despite popular opinion, a cunt can be both, male and female. Gender is not important here, what is important is the depth to which a person deserving such a name has fallen.

A cunt is a person behaving in a vile manner, doing so with an evil intent, and thoroughly enjoying the process. One simply cannot be an accidental cunt – one needs to live the name. By calling somebody a cunt you presume that behavior or act you encountered was indicative of the very nature of the person.

A cunt is a despised person – there are no redeeming qualities, nor does a cunt deserve any. Unlike an asshole, their behavior is not driven by a sense of entitlement, but is simply a manifestation of their nasty nature.

How to recognize:
While you are patiently waiting for another car to vacate a spot, a Cunt whizzes into it honking and giving you the finger. If you start protesting, he gives you a mouthful and loudly threatens to call the cops. He won’t hesitate to run his key along the side of your car just to prove whichever point he was trying to make (if he happens to notice where you parked), but will run away quickly before you come back to the parking lot.

Main quality:
Vile nastiness

Fuck

A beautiful word that can be used as a noun, verb, adjective, preposition, article, and pretty much any word form. For the sake of consistency, we’ll focus on the noun.

The beauty of “fuck” is that it can be a derogatory or swear term, but can equally be used in a friendly banter to congratulate your best mate on landing a hot date or a lottery win (as in “You, lucky fuck!”). With this in mind, to use “fuck” properly, make sure to use the correct modifier. If you suddenly find yourself on the receiving end, listen carefully to the adjectives used in combination – “a silly fuck” (friendly) is very different from a “stupid fuck” (offensive), and a “dumb fuck” (insulting) really tops it off.

How to recognize:
A lucky Fuck is somebody who can afford a better car than yours while being permanently un-employed.
A silly Fuck is the person you have been watching for the last hour trying to parallel-park his battered SUV in a spot that would barely contain a Vespa.
A stupid Fuck will block a one-way street for half an hour, trying to park a Smart where a tourist bus would easily land, will scratch both cars in front and behind, scratch his tires, and eventually leave swearing loudly in search of a better spot.

Main quality:
(Look for the modifier to identify properly
)

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