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Euphemisms versus the "P" Word and "C" W
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Cora



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 1129
Location: Bremen, Germany

PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2008 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, many of today's "crude" words words for bodyparts, e.g. the male and female C-word, have been around a long, long time. I doubt that a proper Regency miss would know or use them (but then, proper Regency misses have done a lot of unlikely things in today's historical romances), but a Duke of Slut type hero probably would at least know such words. And for historicals, the medical terms would probably be unsuitable, simply because they were not in common use.

Otherwise, I wonder whether this objection to clinical terms is a cultural thing, because to me the word "penis" is not clinical at all, because that's how I have always called the respective bodypart from a single digit age on. We do have euphemisms and more or less colourful slang terms, but I think "penis" is the one most people would use.

I can see the problem with "vagina" because that one really does have that clinical ring to it, probably because "vagina" is a term I only learned in school, before that I used the neutral German word. If I were writing in German or translating a respective scene, I'd probably use that neutral term (and since the same word can also mean sword sheath, you could have some nice imagery as a bonus), since I hate all of the German slang terms. But English does not seem to have an equivalent neutral word, so we're stuck with vagina on the one hand and euphemisms or slang terms on the other.
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Elizabeth Rolls



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1080
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2008 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
UGH! Sorry, but that is just as bad! *cringing!* It just sounds so...porn. Egh!!


Well, I think that DOES make my point! Laughing Thanks, Linda. Sorry if I managed to offend you. In the context of the book it didn't bother me in the least.

Elizabeth
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Maysa



Joined: 07 Sep 2007
Posts: 67

PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2008 12:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

Actually, many of today's "crude" words words for bodyparts, e.g. the male and female C-word, have been around a long, long time.


Oh, yeah, definitely! For me, it's not so much the words but on which time period I am reading. Shakespeare played with quite a lot of those words, and if there was bawdy talk in an English Renaissance novel, I'd accept it - but with Victorian novels it throws me for a loop.
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Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2008 5:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Elizabeth Rolls wrote:
Schola - would the book to which you refer be Return of the Rogue by Jo Beverley? She also uses a different female "c" word, "c-nny" in place of the usual one. Gets the idea across but perhaps without being as potentially offensive.


Yes, that's the book! Very Happy (Incidentally, that's one Beverley with what I think is a rock solid HEA.)

"C*nny" is also in an Elizabeth Hoyt novel. Either The Leopard Prince or The Serpent Prince . . . or maybe both. The first time I read it, the crudeness shocked me . . . but then again, Hoyt's sex scenes are generally shocking, so they do fit. Razz

Interestingly, they didn't shock me in The Return of the Rogue, which I read first. That may be because the heroine doesn't say the word to titillate the hero or to describe her own arousal, but is neutrally musing about the earthy vocabulary she remembered from her childhood.
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veasleyd1



Joined: 02 Dec 2007
Posts: 2064

PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2008 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For actually-used pre-modern terminology, a useful reference is:

Pauline Kiernan, Filthy shakespeare: Shakespeare's Most Outrageous Sexual Puns (Gotham Books, 2007).

Kiernan has a doctorate from Oxford and is also the author of Shakespeare's Theory of Drama.

The problem for an author in using many of these is that many readers, probably, would not catch the references because the vocabulary is obsolete.
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Linda in sw va



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 4708

PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2008 6:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Elizabeth Rolls wrote:
Quote:
UGH! Sorry, but that is just as bad! *cringing!* It just sounds so...porn. Egh!!


Well, I think that DOES make my point! Laughing Thanks, Linda. Sorry if I managed to offend you. In the context of the book it didn't bother me in the least.

Elizabeth


No need to apologize at all! Smile Smile I haven't read the book in question so I certainly can't speak for how well it fit into the dialog.

It's interesting how certain words can evoke a strong response depending upon the reader. I wouldn't say I was personally offended by it but I guess you could compare it to coming across an unpleasant smell that makes you want to hold your nose and run out of the room. *G*

With regard to use of the clinical term 'penis', I rarely hear men use that term. More often it's their 'd*ck' or referred to as if it's a seperate entity such as 'him'. Oh look, he's happy! Or .ohhh he likes that...lol. I also have only rarely heard them use 'c@ck', I've read the term in books but have not ever heard it used in real life unless it was via an insult. It may depend on where you're from.

Linda
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