FUCK: A Linguistic Lovesong
The shape and sound of words are often lost in their meaning, especially when it comes to my all time favorite word: FUCK. I know, FUCK can be hit or miss for people. It’s a word that won’t get a second thought beyond acceptability, but FUCK is so much more! It is a very efficient word that holds endless meaning and is rarely ever confused. No matter what language you speak (including ASL), there’s no mistaking FUCK. Therefore, I feel FUCK is the perfect example to illustrate my preference for both the sound and shape of words.
Let’s start with a comparison: Paraskavedekatriaphobia is my fun word, but it only offers auditory enjoyment. Visually, it is an absolute train wreck, but it’s a blast to say and exciting to hear. I love to say it quickly, like a party trick in social settings, because it rolls right off the tongue (believe it or not). But when it comes to FUCK, oh no… FUCK is said slowly. Even if it is said in a burst of fear, or when it’s popped off in quick succession whilst unloading a clip of anger, FUCK is said with seductive patience (no matter the context). With FUCK, you’ll never be left tongue tied.
Hence, in my opinion, it’s the sound of words that first make them so grand to us. I feel this is especially so for us women (who tend to fall in love with our ears), compared to our male counterparts (who tend to fall in love with their eyes). Men are wooed by the physical attractiveness of a sexual partner, and a woman is ultimately wooed by the things her love interest says to her. By design, FUCK has something for everyone.
The sound of a word can stir up a slew of emotions (just see what happens when you shout the word “moist” in a crowd). But FUCK is literally therapeutic to say, even just in your mind when you can’t express yourself freely. That hhhhhard F followed by the conviction of the -UCK makes it feel like a punch to the face you actually want. Or, and I know this is a bit on the nose, it’s like that moment your man walks in the door from a long haul away from home, rams it in hhhhhard and fast, holds it there, grabs a fistful of your hair, and then kisses you… all while looking straight into your begging eyes. He uses that rush of adrenaline to make the most passionate love to you whilst every nerve in your body is set ablaze. Communicating only with his most primitive anatomy, he somehow transports you to the cosmos, right there on your kitchen counter. Like any drug, nothing compares to that first taste, so you better make it count (and FUCK never disappoints). Your brain and body light the FUCK up, every damn time like it’s the first time, because FUCK is a physical expression in itself to say.
However, like many words, the appearance of FUCK is easily overshadowed by its sound. The sharp F and K on the ends tightly embrace the rounded U and C, like a strong father and tough-as-nails mother, protecting their fragile children and holding the family together. FUCK is like the family portrait hung above the fireplace. Look at that beautiful FUCK! So nice and cozy, too! Ironically, if a child writes or says the word FUCK, it makes everyone laugh, and once again, a rush of feel-good ensues. Aww, so precious! FUCK can be enjoyed by the whole family!
For me, personally, FUCK has been my favorite word since I was a kid (thanks to that brilliant FUCK, Quentin Tarantino, and my general obsession with films). FUCK is just part of my everyday vocabulary. Not because I am overtly crass (comedic necessity aside), nor am I nasty to people. I know when to put on my mandated dress and high heels to please, and I truly care about others (so I’m never trying to offend you). It is simply because FUCK efficiently invokes the passion I desire. Despite its negative uses and bad rap, FUCK holds so much beauty. There’s no need to clutch your pearls at this sweet little word—well, unless it’s a pearl necklace created in glorious FUCK itself. In which case, enjoy that warm hug and clutch away.
Lastly, to support my love for all things FUCK, and to convince you that there’s nothing to fear, I’d like to mention a cute little runner-up. The word “butthole” is endlessly funny to me. It’s like a punchline to a joke, no matter how you say it or when it’s used. Butthole is a full yet tight looking word. It has shapely, round letters, garnished with 2 proper gentleman in bowties shoved right in between. But most importantly, it can usually slip right through all the censorship we are forced to endure. Censorship is something I’m adamantly against because it takes away my choice to experience the real world. But, a friendly butthole can really soften the blow, and give us all a break from the back and forth of typical norms. Relax, butthole is here now.
However, if someone does tell you to censor “butthole,” I offer the words of the lyrical and vocal genius, Maynard James Keenan:
“If you figure out how to not have a butthole, then I’ll change it.”
Similarly, if you feel my favorite word should be censored, then show me human existence without FUCK, and I’ll buttholeheartedly fall on this sword. I digress…
I proffer the auditory and visual aspects of all words can help us embrace their beauty, far beyond meaning alone. Like anything, it merely comes down to individual preference. Between shape and sound, there will always be times when one feels better than the other… ButtFUCK, I sure do love a healthy dose of both.
Negligee is the most beautiful word in the English Language to me although the French made the word. Negligee in my mind is spelled wrong yet it looks right and is pronounced awkward. With the two EE's with a hyphen at the end to pronounce AA's, changed its introduction.
Yet, it's a beautiful appearance to a sleepwear outfit to describe the sexy mood of a woman. When she is presented in this awkward word, she is seen as a Beautiful flawless vision of sexual intentions. So I will say it again, Negligee is not only beautifully named, but also beautifully presented in any language, thus being the most perfect word in the English Language.
“The Totality of the Human Mind”
Linguistically the word of distinction for me is "Psyche," for the way it boggles the eye, ear, and mind. Were a child or nonnative speaker to apply basic English phonics unguided, what would that sound like-- puhswhycheh?
There is something insidious about the silent P, and the refusal of the ch to be read as its proper digraph, as well as the sneakily audible eee-- all of which combined seem to leverage the sight/sound of the term into synapsis of a mental oddity.
The dictionary offers Sī-kē, as pronunciation, which makes me visualize Greek goddesses and sure enough, Psyche is the one with butterfly wings, ruling over the Soul.
Yet, when saying the word aloud, I draw a blank as to how we should ink that-- Sighky?--and suddenly the word seems poignantly sad, like an old armoire whose small skeleton key has been retrievably lost over the years, in the course of moving about.
Knowing the articulation and spelling and etymology, I'm further confounded by the Rubik's cube of consonants tied to one final precipitous vowel. I can't help but think, is this the epitome of our Thinking? and what if one were to neglect, or forget, to say that all so critical eeee--?
Psych[e]: the mind playing tricks on itself, eh?!
Curvature: a word that embodies a great deal in only nine letters of the alphabet. Its simplicity, beauty, and fluidity are synonymous with and in a multitude of descriptive phrases, limitless in interpretation.
Sleek, supple, sublime
In the turn of an elbow or
The bend of a knee,
With the rippling arch of a spine,
Moving across the incurve
Of rounded buttocks or breasts,
In the spin of a curling hair,
Found in the crook of an arm,
Or as the body bestows a bow
In greeting or thanks,
Along a meandering roadway,,
With the evolving movement
discovered in the step
Of a graceful dancer,
As light refracts and reflects
To form a cascading rainbow
Of continuous colors,
With the sweeping swerve
Of an artist's paintbrush,
Seen in a swirl of smoke,
The collective coils of a rope,
In the wind’s embrace,
And the softest whisper,
As a swerving tree limb
Lifts leaves and blossoms
To the sky,
Along the slope of a hill
And a mountain,
Or ever steady
In the woven tale
Created in the circle of life.
Can you feel it? That delicate hiss of the serpent wrapping itself around your tongue as you begin to repeat the word. You were ordered to ignore its meaning, forget its historical connotations, but that just teases your subconscious into feeding you thoughts of debauchery — even evil — as soon as the word embeds itself into the wrinkled weight of gray matter constrained within your skull. There’s something about the way that sound lingers in your ears and teases the tip of your tongue as it tingles behind your teeth.
Your mind finishes the word before your lips get the chance to: “…in.” You let its dark allure reel you in. You invited it to come in. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you… right? The word fades out as the serpent slithers into the silence left behind by your absence.
The children's book "Still More Stories From Grandma's Attic" by Arleta Richardson features the word, "Slop-tot''.
It means, a child prone to sloppiness.
And, it's an actually spirit-lifting word of self-deprecation when it hurts to call yourself stupid:
POV: you're in the kitchen doing dishes, and you knock over the soap dispenser; soap all over the kitchen towel and stained cabinets. You're so mad! Then, you say to yourself, "I'm being a slop-tot; stop being a slop-tot.'' While you're banging things around, "Slop-tot-Slop-tot-Slop-tot" rounds through your head; you're surprised to find yourself fighting not to smile. Then you smile. Slop-tot is irresistible.
(Slop-tot may nowadays have a different meaning than it did in the time period of the book, though I've not found any evidence of such in my cursory internet search :)
Let Your Eyes Travel North
Where is the prince?
For he too sought this
A thing most precious
Beyond the veil of sleep
A curtain of color
Seen only in the dark
Cross a monstrous film
Faces there that aren't
Wear them and bear them
But risk what you seek
And you will face what is behind
What the serpent has swallowed
Lying sleeping in a tower that was its tail
The prince has seen her beauty
What Can’t Be Said
A word held in tight
Its utterance is contradiction
Used to describe the horrors
The heinous, the despicable, the tragic
It is unmentionable for everyone
Except the intrepid lexicographers
You can't just go around
Saying what you can't get around
People will run away
For their very lives than say
The word I can't say
Without contradicting myself
Is more than unspeakable, unmentionable, or un-F'able
It's overtly ineffable.