Archive for the ‘Language Use’ Category

Joke of the Day 1-27-17

Posted: January 26, 2017 in Humor, Jokes, Language Use

“Don’t you just hate rhetorical questions?”

–no idea where this came from, so let’s credit it to Anonymous

No, I’m not going to belabor the obvious. I’m not going to talk about the difference between language and lashing, between pious preaching and priestly pedophilia.

As those of you who haven’t unsubscribed might have noticed, I dropped an “F-bomb” for effect at the end of the next-to-last post.

Why? Precisely because it had an effect.

It’s still an effective means of shocking people, sometimes for the sheer sake of shock (as in that post), and sometimes for the sake of accurate portrayal of everyday language.

A few days ago I was talking with a friend who’s done construction work for decades. He recently worked on the new Mormon temple up in the foothills.

It is, of course, a monstrosity. A raised middle finger to the environment and the people of Tucson. As are all Mormon temples. (And yes, the ugliness is deliberate: they build temples according to pre-ordained plan.)

To add insult to injury, they demanded that all of the construction workers building their temple have no visible tattoos and refrain from cursing while on the job. (No, I’m not kidding.)

I asked him, “Do they have any fucking idea of what construction workers are like?”

Apparently not. (used to be one myself)

Decades ago, for an environmental organization, I canvassed the neighborhood downhill from the recently constructed Mormon temple in the Oakland foothills.  The Mormons had capped a number of springs on their property, and the water, as one would expect, found a way out, destroying several houses in the process.

The Mormons, of course, refused to admit that their tax-exempt temple was in any way responsible for the destruction of the tax-paying properties below them.

Now that’s obscene.

(Sorry, couldn’t resist pointing out the obvious.)


Crude Joke of the Day 12-9-16

Posted: December 9, 2016 in Humor, Jokes, Language Use


(Sorry, but I do not know where this came from. Thanks to my pal Leo for passing this one along.)

Joke of the Day 11-10-16

Posted: November 10, 2016 in Humor, Jokes, Language Use

At this point, I think we can all use this. Enjoy.


–from Seattle Propane’s Wallingfordsign

Years ago, I was sitting around drinking beer with my pal Abe, and we were pondering the question “What’s the most pinche thing you can think of?” as a way of coming up with the lyrics for a latin rock tune I’d written. It turned out that the most pinche thing either of us could think of was having to go to work at the crack of dawn horribly hungover. Hence, Pinche Blues. And by extension The Pinche Blues Band.

It’s a great word, and works well for the band: Mexicans think the band name is hilarious, and white folks, unless they speak Spanish, are invariably mystified by it, and will often ask what it means.

The definition I’ve used for years is this: Pinche, adj. 1) Mean, low down, dirty; 2) “Fucking” in the nonsexual sense, as in “no fucking good.” (“Pinche,” however, is milder than “fucking.”)

But here’s the best definition I’ve ever seen of the term; it’s from the Urban Dictionary. The only thing I’d note is that I hear “pinche” quite often here in Tucson, and I’ve never heard it used in sense “A,” only in senses “B” and “C”:

Spanish-language expression meaning:
a) Kitchen boy. The guys who clean up the Chef’s mess and scrub the frying pans and carry stuff around. In this context it’s still used in Spain.
b) In Mexico, it’s an all-purpose insult enhancer, which would be roughly equivalent to the use of *fucking* in English. If Jay (Silent Bob’s hetero life mate) spoke Spanish, he would say *pinche* A LOT.
Pinche is strongly associated with cursing in Mexican Spanish and the very moment you use it gives you away as a Mexican national. So you pinches gringos take that into account if you’re trying to pass for an Argentine or whatever.
c) In Mexico, it’s also used as an adjective to describe something as insignificant, lousy, miserable or worthless.
a) Se solicitan 2 pinches de cocina medio turno. (2 kitchen boys are needed for half shifts)
b) Pinche gringo culero ve a chingar a tu reputisima madre! (Fucking gringo asshole go fuck your loosecunt cocksucking mother!)
c) Tu pinche hermana está bien pinche, wey. (Your fucking sister is so fucking ugly, dude!)
by Hugh G Rection April 07, 2005

“[Texas Rangers broadcaster Steve] Busby’s main entertainment value comes from his apparent lack of awareness of obvious double entendre. He has provided many superb sound bites since taking over in the booth, such as the time he described David Murphy’s run of success in the second spot of the lineup as ‘eating that number two hole up.’ A favorite of his is the term ‘fisted;’ when L.J. Hoes fouled a ball off the handle of the bat one day, he said, incredibly, ‘And Hoes got fisted.’”

–Anonymous Texas Rangers fan quoted by Carson Cistulli in “2016 Broadcasters Rankings (TV): #20-11

I live in what the Arizona Daily Star once described as a “hardscrabble neighborhood.” It’s low income, mostly nonwhite (about 65% Mexican, 15% black, 20% white, by my entirely unscientific estimate). A lot of the Mexican folks are first generation, and they’ve had no more education than is average with poor people in Mexico. The half of the black folks who are American had the typical shitty education black, poor people receive in the land of the free. The East African refugees (mostly Somalis) never had a chance education-wise.

Me? I’m from a neighborhood somewhat like this one (poorer, but almost all white), in Phoenix. I’m the only one in the family — out to second cousins — ever to earn even a bachelor’s degree. So I know how to fit in here. I also know how to fit in with people from academic backgrounds.

Here, I have one neighbor I’ve known for 20 years who doesn’t speak English, so we speak Spanish except when I can’t think of a specific term and we lapse into Spanglish. Beyond that, with my Mexican neighbors who speak English — who automatically lapse into English — and with my American black neighbors, I lapse into Spanglish and ‘hood patterns — “Hey bro! ¿Que paso?” to cite a  stereotyped example. Also double negatives — “ain’t got no,” etc. I tend to use single- and double-syllable words, not multi-syllabic latinate words with my neighbors.

Before you condemn me as phony for this, please realize that these patterns are entirely natural to me, and that I fall into them unconsciously. (And frankly, I think double negatives make more sense than the typical  “correct” English usage.)

When I’m with the monthly atheist meetup group, which consists mostly of  people with advanced degrees, I lapse into “correct” English — being very careful about verb tenses, number, etc.  I also do the same when, rarely, I’m with other folks with advanced degrees in other contexts.

With the political groups I’m involved with, and also with the bands I play with, I tend toward the ‘hood side of my vocabulary. I don’t mean this as an insult to them; they consist of people from widely varying backgrounds, and  I really don’t want to seem like I’m showing anybody up.

I’d really — very much — like to hear from others, especially latino or black folks, who fit into two or three worlds: How do you adjust your vocabulary and speech patterns? And how do you feel about it?