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Old 03-21-2013, 12:33 PM
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Do other languages have obscenities like those of English?


In his column on vulgarities and obscenities in other languages than English Cecil gives the Dutch example: "Krijg de mazelen" ("get the measles"). That is rather a mild way of putting it. In Dutch, people can wish every imaginable disease on each other. As a Dutchman I had never heard the one about the measles, but I have heard cholera, typhoid fever and cancer wished upon people, not excluding myself. Furthermore, where an English speaking person would use a colloquial word for excrement, we tend to use the vulgar word for a lady's private parts, "kut". I thought this might be of interest to the teeming millions.


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LINK TO COLUMN: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/...ose-of-english

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Old 03-21-2013, 12:58 PM
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The column does not seem to be quite clear on the fact that Catalan and Spanish are not the same language.
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Old 03-21-2013, 01:14 PM
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The column does not seem to be quite clear on the fact that Catalan and Spanish are not the same language.
Most Spanish would say they are, most Catalans would say they aren't. Hence all the invective...
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Old 03-21-2013, 02:38 PM
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While I have basically no familiarity with it, Russian мат approaches being a language unto itself. It's based on a few naughty words, which are basically the same as English ones--cock, cunt, fuck, whore.

I've always enjoyed the following anecdote, quoted from Wikipedia:

Quote:
An inspection was expected at a Soviet plant to award it the Quality Mark, so the administration prohibited the usage of mat. On the next day the productivity dropped abruptly. People's Control figured out the reason: miscommunication. It turned out that workers knew all the tools and parts only by their mat-based names: huyovina, pizdyulina, huynyushka, huyatina, etc. (all of these are loosely translated as "thing"); the same went for technological processes: othuyachit (to detach, cut, disconnect), zayebenit (to push through, force into), prihuyachit (to attach, connect, bond, nail), huynut (to move slightly, throw, pour), zahuyarit (to throw far away, to put in deeply) etc.
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Old 03-21-2013, 04:17 PM
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Most Spanish would say they are, most Catalans would say they aren't. Hence all the invective...
Not only would most Spanish people say they ARE NOT the same, they would also say there's no such language as "Spanish"

The actual name for what we call spanish is Castellano, the language of Castilla y Leon, the dominant province.

Catalan is a completely distinct language, albeit similar.

One could say that politically speaking, they are even more different, cos the Catalans fought and died to be independent from Madrid. They've gained some autonomy and hold some political power because they are sometimes the deciding voice in parliament.

their position is almost exactly like the Scots in GB, rich, small, some autonomy, and occasional talk of independence.

If Barcelona wins a football match, it's just half about sports, the other is half about politics and showing independence.

Last edited by kneegrow; 03-21-2013 at 04:18 PM.
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Old 03-21-2013, 05:08 PM
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please delete my above post
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The column does not seem to be quite clear on the fact that Catalan and Spanish are not the same language.
Unless he changed it since you wrote that, the confusion might be all yours, since I see no evidence of that, actually. Care to point where it confuses the two?

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Originally Posted by jimigorilla View Post
Most Spanish would say they are, most Catalans would say they aren't. Hence all the invective...
Not only would most Spanish people say they ARE NOT the same, they would also say there's no such language as "Spanish"

The actual name for what we call Spanish is Castellano, the language of Castilla y Leon, the dominant province.

Catalan is a completely distinct language, albeit similar.

One could say that politically speaking, they are even more different, cos the Catalans fought and died to be independent from Madrid. They've gained some autonomy and hold some political power because they are sometimes the deciding voice in parliament.

their position is almost exactly like the Scots in GB, rich, small, some autonomy, and occasional talk of independence.

If Barcelona wins a football match, it's just half about sports, the other is half about politics and showing independence.

Last edited by kneegrow; 03-21-2013 at 05:11 PM.
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Old 03-21-2013, 05:09 PM
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Old 03-22-2013, 10:38 AM
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As far as I know, the biblical Hebrew has no curse words; the modern Hebrew has borrowed swearings from the Arabic.
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Old 03-22-2013, 11:27 AM
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As far as I know, the biblical Hebrew has no curse words; the modern Hebrew has borrowed swearings from the Arabic.
What about 1 Samuel 20:30, which translates rather exactly to "You son of a bitch!" (Cite.)

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Old 03-22-2013, 12:18 PM
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Not only would most Spanish people say they ARE NOT the same, they would also say there's no such language as "Spanish"
But you could say that both Castiliano and Catalan are Spanish languages.
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Old 03-22-2013, 12:53 PM
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Column: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/...ose-of-english

First time through, I was mildly confused by this part:
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Vaffanculo is merely the best known of a rich tradition of Italian oaths and imprecations, although the consensus is that Spanish is the champ in this department. Herewith a few of the more printable international classics, culled from the pages of Reinhold Aman's Maledicta: The International Journal of Verbal Aggression:
Mecagum les cinc llagues de Crist, "I shit on the five wounds of Christ," Catalan. Even more bloodcurdling is Mecagum Deu, en la creu, en el fuster que la feu i en el fill de puta que va plantar el pi, "I shit on God, on the cross, on the carpenter who made it and on the son of a whore who planted the pine."
Underlining added for emphasis. It appeared to be saying that example was a statement in Spanish, then labeled it Catalan. Of course the next example is Swahili, which is not Spanish, so there you go. He says Spanish is champ, but then doesn't give any examples from Spanish. (Okay, one, from Argentina.)
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Old 03-22-2013, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by jimigorilla View Post
Most Spanish would say they are, most Catalans would say they aren't. Hence all the invective...
Since I have never once visited the Peninsula, and since I don’t speak a word of either, I think the fact that I can still distinguish them at sight makes it pretty clear that they’re not the same language.
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Old 03-22-2013, 06:35 PM
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It appeared to be saying that example was a statement in Spanish, then labeled it Catalan. Of course the next example is Swahili, which is not Spanish, so there you go. He says Spanish is champ, but then doesn't give any examples from Spanish. (Okay, one, from Argentina.)
That was my point. As written, it nearly gave me mental whiplash.
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Old 03-22-2013, 07:01 PM
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But you could say that both Castiliano and Catalan are Spanish languages.
Except that Castellano is “Castillian” in English. But, in English, or at least in the USA, “Castillian” normally means old-world Spanish, as opposed to new-world Spanish, and, in fact, is normally pretty much equivalent to seseo (the characteristic replacement of /s/ by /θ/). Linguists, of course, use “Castillian” differently, to mean the speech of Castile, as opposed to Leonese, Aragonese, Gallician, etc.. But I don’t know any English speaker who uses “Castillian” to mean not-Catalan.

I admit that the situation is horribly confused. But, heck, most Americans don’t even know that Catalan exists. A good many Americans, after all, don’t even seem to know that Portuguese exists.
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Old 03-22-2013, 09:08 PM
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As far as I know, the biblical Hebrew has no curse words; the modern Hebrew has borrowed swearings from the Arabic.
hmmm, it's biblical, no wonder they kept the bad lingo out it.

and

from Arabic? Really? So ... either prissy Hebrew had to borrow words from roughneck Arabic, or it was too stupid to borrow swearwords from the OTHER dozens of languages it came into contact with before Arabic ...
like Yiddish, Franko, French, Russian etc etc.

color me not convinced at all.

Quote:
As far as I know, 1950's TV-English has no curse words; the modern TV-English has borrowed swearings from American-English.
yep, sounds just as st..... delightfully naive!

take it as a rule of thumb that a language develops swear words FIRST.
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Old 03-22-2013, 09:13 PM
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But you could say that both Castiliano and Catalan are Spanish languages.
But not in Cataluyna, unless you have a dead wish.

j.k.!

But Catalan and Galician scholars call them Iberian languages, anything, just to avoid calling themselves anything Spanish. Because that means accepting subjugation, which they in general, do not.
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Old 03-22-2013, 09:30 PM
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Except that Castellano is “Castillian” in English. But, in English, or at least in the USA, “Castillian” normally means old-world Spanish, as opposed to new-world Spanish, and, in fact, is normally pretty much equivalent to seseo (the characteristic replacement of /s/ by /θ/). Linguists, of course, use “Castillian” differently, to mean the speech of Castile, as opposed to Leonese, Aragonese, Gallician, etc.. But I don’t know any English speaker who uses “Castillian” to mean not-Catalan.

I admit that the situation is horribly confused. But, heck, most Americans don’t even know that Catalan exists. A good many Americans, after all, don’t even seem to know that Portuguese exists.
it's not that confused, there are just many languages, who were separated by geographical distances. At that time, 100 miles meant an almost insurmountable barrier. Some have "come together" under a common dominant denominator, Castile is to Spain what England is to Britain and for example Holland is to the Netherlands (note the plural s) etc etc.

All these countries had slightly different languages, cos the technology at that time didn't allow them to be unified, geographical distances were too big. They coalesced into a common language, also for political reasons.

If the present slide into ignorance in America keeps up, the different regions will lose contact with each other and then, in a thousand years, there will be several distinct languages, like TexMex, Floridian, New England English and Alaskoan
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Old 03-22-2013, 09:33 PM
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Since I have never once visited the Peninsula, and since I don’t speak a word of either, I think the fact that I can still distinguish them at sight makes it pretty clear that they’re not the same language.
i suppose you can still spot the street signs in Barcelona in four languages, cos of the 1992 Olympics, on Google Maps .....
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Old 03-22-2013, 09:41 PM
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A good many Americans, after all, don’t even seem to know that Portuguese exists.
whole forests have disappeared to describe what a good many Americans don't know. Many non-Americans have wondered about this seeming paradox: how could Americans come to dominate the world when they seem to be so ignorant?

The answer is that for dominance, you don't need to be smart, you need loads of oil and the destruction of the industrial infra structure of your near competitors, like Germany, England and Japan ...
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Old 03-22-2013, 10:40 PM
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Getting back to the question of the OP, I speak three languages. In all three the naughty words have to do with your mama and her private parts.
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Old 03-22-2013, 10:55 PM
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there are loads of articles on the net about swear words, but in different languages they focus on different things
in Scandinavian languages the worst ones are about the Devil and the hangman
In Dutch, it's about getting diseases and genitals, in English it's about bastards, not knowing who your father is etc. In some African languages it's about the shape of your body, in Chinese it's about your intelligence

all languages have all sorts, the above is just an indication of where they put the emphasis.
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Old 03-23-2013, 02:23 AM
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I admit that the situation is horribly confused. But, heck, most Americans don’t even know that Catalan exists. A good many Americans, after all, don’t even seem to know that Portuguese exists.
Hell, most Americans don't know there's a difference between old world Spanish and new world Spanish.
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Old 03-23-2013, 02:44 AM
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Japanese is pretty invective-poor. There are some vulgar words for body parts, but not a whole lot between something that can translate to "down there" (あれ) and "cunt" (まんこ). If you're upset about something, you can say "shit" (くそ) or "oops, darn it" (しまった) but a lot of the time people just give a frustrated wordless yell. For insults, almost your only choices are various flavors of "you" (お前、あんた、手前) that used to be respectful terms of address, or a couple of words for "idiot" (馬鹿、あほ) that also have a flavoring of "asshole" depending on the situation.

Mostly, it's about how you say it, not what you say. The insult comes from using particular language patterns that are "rough" language, or being deliberately rude to people, implying their inferiority.
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Old 03-23-2013, 06:30 AM
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Hell, most Americans don't know there's a difference between old world Spanish and new world Spanish.
Weeeeeeeeeeeell the difference isn't that big, slightly bigger than between American and real English. If that.

We can all laugh about the stupidity of Americans. Long time ago I had a collegue who just discovered spell check in Word. He got completely excited over how many spellings English apparently has (according to Bill Gates), from Barbadian to Guyanese English. I always saw that as a selling tool, not an official sort of thing.
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Old 03-23-2013, 07:32 AM
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Weeeeeeeeeeeell the difference isn't that big, slightly bigger than between American and real English. If that.
And often there are dialects on both sides of the Atlantic which are much closer than others that happen to be on the same side - Colombian Highlands Spanish and Ebro Valley Spanish are much closer than either of those two and Buenos Aires Spanish. Speaking about "Latin American Spanish" and "Spanish from Spain" as if those were The Only Two Spanish Dialects is both an enormous simplification and a disservice to the other former Spanish colonies (which have their own dialects as well).



Castilla y León is not and has never been a province, it's either (currently) an autonomous region formed by 9 provinces, or one of the names through which one of Spain's kingdoms went. It started out as Asturias, later León (after the capital moved south), later Castilla y León (after incorporation of the Countship/Earldom of Castille by personal union), later Castilla.


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i suppose you can still spot the street signs in Barcelona in four languages, cos of the 1992 Olympics, on Google Maps .....
Not unless the pics were taken a long time ago. They're not in place any more.



A previous thread on the same Answer.

Last edited by Nava; 03-23-2013 at 07:36 AM.
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Old 03-23-2013, 10:47 AM
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Speaking about "Latin American Spanish" and "Spanish from Spain" as if those were The Only Two Spanish is both an enormous simplification
and cALLing them old world and new word spanish is rather quaint.
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Castilla y León is not and has never been a province
oops, sorry I was wrong.

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Not unless the pics were taken a long time ago. They're not in place any more.
and how about the tourist signs in Catalan, Castellano and English?
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Old 03-23-2013, 10:53 AM
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Those will vary depending on who's responsible for them and their political sign. We're not even allowed to call the four Catalan provinces in Spanish any more, legally.
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Old 03-23-2013, 10:14 PM
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whole forests have disappeared to describe what a good many Americans don't know. Many non-Americans have wondered about this seeming paradox: how could Americans come to dominate the world when they seem to be so ignorant?

The answer is that for dominance, you don't need to be smart, you need loads of oil and the destruction of the industrial infra structure of your near competitors, like Germany, England and Japan ...
Sorry, demonstrably wrong. America was recognizably Top Nation by 1918.

Historically speaking, American ignorance is a fairly new phenomenon, apart from a general American tendency to try to shut off European history, and that can be traced back at least to 1689, a product of the notion that America had the promise of truly being a New World, unstained by the European past. But have you never heard of “Yankee ingenuity”? Of Franklin, Henry, Morse, Edison, et al.? No, the present rotting of the American mind is something new. Perhaps it’s television, perhaps it’s that peculiar form of devil worship that calls itself “fundamentalist Christianity”, perhaps it’s something else. But the paradox you perceive is not there in the actual timeline.
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Old 03-25-2013, 03:23 AM
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in Scandinavian languages the worst ones are about the Devil and the hangman
The devil, yes. The hangman, no.
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Old 03-25-2013, 05:19 AM
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Japanese is pretty invective-poor. There are some vulgar words for body parts, but not a whole lot between something that can translate to "down there" (あれ) and "cunt" (まんこ).
There always seems to be a myth going around that the Japanese are incapable of swearing, or that the language does not have swear words, which seems to further stem from the frankly racist view that the Japanese are "polite" or "submissive" (and I guess for the sake of national/cultural pride, the Japanese are willing to participate in). This is not true, as anyone who has even watched a single episode of that infernal gainax anime oruchuban no ebichu, or even a translated version of any number of Japanese doujins can attest. A few examples, easily gleaned from the internet:

chikusho = the piston action
ketsunoana = a**hole
chinkasu=smegma
yariman/yarichin = town bicycle
sageman /sagechin = diseased hole/dick everyone will make fun of you for if you ever tap that

Which comes to the other point: insults relating to sexual degradation of women is absolutely normal in Japan (or at least normal enough to be allowed to be printed while actual depictions of the act are censored by fingernail-thin tone print strips). Doujins often turn up words that translate to things like "b*tch/sow in heat" "b*tch hole" "wh*remaking" "rape-b*tch" and so on and so forth.
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Old 03-25-2013, 05:34 AM
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And I don't know what I did with the last post to eat up the ETA: I really like some of the male-equivalent insults that appear often, like "phimosis-penis", because I always value tailor-made insults.
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Old 03-25-2013, 08:29 PM
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I would've told you in the past in all earnestness that Chinese totally does not have swear words, but in due time I realized that was because I grew up in a super polite and sequestered household (Mom having majored in Literary Chinese and Grandma being very devoutly Catholic = super polite speech even at home).

I don't really know that many Chinese swear words, alas. Most of the ones I do know involve bodily functions (shit, fart, etc.), aspersions on the sexual proclivities of the person insulted (whore, adulterer, etc.), or their parentage (bastard, son of a turtle, etc.)--i.e. the general universal set of put downs common to pretty much every language.
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Old 03-27-2013, 08:49 AM
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There always seems to be a myth going around that the Japanese are incapable of swearing, or that the language does not have swear words, which seems to further stem from the frankly racist view that the Japanese are "polite" or "submissive" (and I guess for the sake of national/cultural pride, the Japanese are willing to participate in). This is not true, as anyone who has even watched a single episode of that infernal gainax anime oruchuban no ebichu, or even a translated version of any number of Japanese doujins can attest. A few examples, easily gleaned from the internet:

chikusho = the piston action
ketsunoana = a**hole
chinkasu=smegma
yariman/yarichin = town bicycle
sageman /sagechin = diseased hole/dick everyone will make fun of you for if you ever tap that

Which comes to the other point: insults relating to sexual degradation of women is absolutely normal in Japan (or at least normal enough to be allowed to be printed while actual depictions of the act are censored by fingernail-thin tone print strips). Doujins often turn up words that translate to things like "b*tch/sow in heat" "b*tch hole" "wh*remaking" "rape-b*tch" and so on and so forth.
You might see it on the internet, but I live and work in Japan, and in real life no one uses language like that. Not even the high school kids. Are there examples of creative invective? Yep. But contrary to my experience growing up in the US where we'd sling casual "fuck you"s and, "shut your pie hole, you stupid cunt" to our friends, Japanese people almost never curse in public unless they're true gutter trash.

I didn't say they didn't have any bad words, just that there's not a lot of variety. You've got "oh, dear" to "bleeding crotch gash" level slang, with not a whole lot in between.

Last edited by Sleel; 03-27-2013 at 08:50 AM. Reason: added stuff
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Old 03-29-2013, 09:27 PM
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My wife had a dog that didn't like a life insurance salesman who was visiting. When he tried to pet the dog, she turned away and kicked with the same motion dogs use when they are hiding their droppings. She was telling him that she considered him shit. I guess dogs swear, too.
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Old 01-31-2020, 06:39 AM
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Just wanted to give a heads up to those who had been following this thread that Reinhold Aman (the editor of the journal whose material was cherry-picked for Cecil's article) died a few months ago. I've started a memorial thread over in Cafe Society.
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