Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cursing by Lily Harlem

Okay, so I am guessing if you've swung by a blog about raunchy menage you don't have too delicate a disposition and a few coarse words won't offend you. It's not like I'm just going to spout a tirade of abuse at you, not at all, I just wanted to natter about the difference between US cursing and English cursing - even that word is different, in the UK we would say swearing. As an English author quite often I sit here racking my brains when it comes to thinking up insults for my US characters to hurl at one another!!

Mr H is English through and through, born in London, and myself, as the only female with three brothers of my own and four brothers-in-law, all English, I am VERY familiar with the usual Brit expletives. For example if Mr H is doing a rare bit of DIY and hits his thumb with a hammer he is likely to shout Bollocks. Do you US guys use that term??? If he's having a moment of road rage and gets cut-up he's likely to either mutter (or yell) that someone is a  Dickhead, a Knob, a Plonker or a Wanker. (I'm making him sound like a foul mouthed, bad tempered guy, he's not, he's just an ordinary bloke and now I'm using him in this blog! Bless him!)

It isn't until I'm writing US characters (usually my hockey ones) that I start using terms like son-of-a-bitch and mother-fucker. You just wouldn't hear them over here in the UK, and if you did it would be easy to assume someone had overdosed on US movies. 

I read a book a while ago were the word bloody was used to accentuate the dialogue of an English character. It is a common expletive over here, bloody hell being one of my very favourites when things go wrong. It gives a quick release of tension without really offending anyone - and believe me, sometimes I need that. But the word has to be placed just right otherwise it sounds off. Not sure why so I looked it up, this is what one site says... 

Bloody - One of the most useful swear words in English. Mostly used as an exclamation of surprise i.e. "bloody hell" or "bloody nora". Something may be "bloody marvellous" or "bloody awful". It is also used to emphasise almost anything, "you're bloody mad", "not bloody likely" and can also be used in the middle of other words to emphasise them. E.g. "Abso-bloody-lutely"! Americans should avoid saying "bloody" as they sound silly.

Another word I have to switch between is arse and ass. Again we say arse - an ass is a donkey - and to me the word asshole doesn't sound right 'without' the American twang. It's a similar situation to bloody I think, the English can't say asshole without sounding like, well an arsehole. And again, over here, it's use stretches into phrases like arse-over-tit, which means to fall over, arse-about-face means something is being done back to front, and arse-holed and rat-arsed which means very drunk.

Piss off is common here too, but I'm not sure how much you use it in the US. It gets used as Pissed up - if someone is drunk and Pissed off if you're fed up.

Anyone who has seen Notting Hill will remember the adorable bit where Hugh Grant says Whoops-a-daisy when trying to climb the railings and Julia Roberts can't stop laughing at him and he can't stop saying it. I LOVED that bit, it was so real, and it certainly is something that's said, particularly around kids or grannies.

My latest novel is SCORED a sexy soccer story about the English football team. That allowed me to flow naturally with the dialogue when it came to swearing because let's face it, these hot-headed footballer types do a lot of that when their testosterone gets flowing. I did stop short of using the word Goolies though, which means testicles 'he just kicked me in the goolies' being a favourite of young lads in the playground. Another one I refrained from using is John Thomas which is slang for cock, dick, willy, knob and todger. (Though if something is cocked-up it means it's gone wrong and is nothing to do with the male anatomy. Much like the dogs-bollocks which means something is great and nothing to do with dogs or bollocks!)

We have different expressions for having sex too - bonking, shagging, on the job, hanky-panky, slap and tickle, humping, a bit of nookie, screwing, wicked-way, rogering to name a few. Up the arse is buggering, though that word is used a lot as bugger off, or he's a bugger, meaning someone is a pest and nothing to do with anal sex.

Well on that happy note, and now that I have turned the air at When One Is Not Enough blue, I am going to leave you to have your say in the comment boxes. Tell me what your favourite UK and US curse words are and why, and of course any new ones for my US located stories will be greatly received :-)

Lily x


jessiel said...

Lily, When I hear the word "wanker" it makes me laugh. Really, who in their right mind thought of that word for penis?? I think there are other fitting words for this part of the male anatomy that can bring a woman so much pleasure. I'm sure you wouldn't use the word wanker in one of your books. By the way, I read "Scored" & loved it! The elevator scene made me giggle. Looking forward to reading more of your books.


Lily said...

Thanks for stopping by Jessie and great to hear you enjoyed Scored. And, yep, the elevator scene made me giggle when I was writing it and came about from a real experience a friend of mine had, Hee,hee :-)

Wanker means someone who likes masturbating rather than penis, which isn't really offensive, because who doesn't like a little solo time? But WANKER shouted in a rough cockney accent down a dark London street can sound pretty scary and is definitely a very derogatory term for one guy to say to another- it usually precedes a fight! Tosser is used in the same way, but somehow doesn't seem so bad.

The mind boggles. LOL.

Lily x