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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: February ::
Shakespeare's F Words

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0066  Thursday, 11 February 2010

 

[1] From:    Gabriel Egan < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:     February 7, 2010 4:19:20 PM EST

     Subj:     Re: SHK 21.0062  Shakespeare's F Words 

 

[2] From:    Kristen McDermott < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:     February 7, 2010 4:56:42 PM EST

     Subj:     RE: SHK 21.0062  Shakespeare's F Words 

 

[3] From:    Jack Heller < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:     February 7, 2010 5:18:28 PM EST

     Subj:     Re: SHK 21.0062 Shakespeare's F Words 

 

[4] From:    Eric Johnson-DeBaufre < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:     February 7, 2010 7:06:16 PM EST

     Subj:     Shakespeare's F words 

 

[5] From:    Anthony Burton < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:     February 8, 2010 12:52:45 PM EST

     Subj:     Re: SHK 21.0062  Shakespeare's F Words 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Gabriel Egan < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         February 7, 2010 4:19:20 PM EST

Subject: 21.0062  Shakespeare's F Words

Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0062  Shakespeare's F Words

 

A student came into my class last year wearing a tee-shirt that read 'f c e k the Irish connection'.

 

Gabriel Egan

 

(I hate to explain a joke, but Non-British SHAKSPERians may not know that the clothes retailer 'French Connection' renamed itself 'French Connection UK' a few years ago, solely to be able to use as its label the abbreviation "f c u k", and so sell young people tee-shirts that almost look rude, but can't be objected to. Oh, and you need to know that Irish people say 'feck' instead of 'fuck'.)

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Kristen McDermott < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         February 7, 2010 4:56:42 PM EST

Subject: 21.0062  Shakespeare's F Words

Comment:      RE: SHK 21.0062  Shakespeare's F Words

 

On stage or in print, coyness about the "f-word" was apparently not required; Jonson, Nashe, Chapman, and Beaumont/Fletcher all cheerfully used the common nickname for the kestrel or windhover, "wind-fucker" to describe a wordy fool. Victorian editions amended the term to "wind-sucker," but the OED (and a glance at the quarto of Epicene) confirms the f-spelling is the correct one.

 

Kristen McDermott

Central Michigan University

 

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Jack Heller < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         February 7, 2010 5:18:28 PM EST

Subject: 21.0062 Shakespeare's F Words

Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0062 Shakespeare's F Words

 

 

On when the F word with the usual current spelling came into use, I don't know, but the word does appear in the Scottish Protestant morality play Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaits by Sir David Lyndsey. I don't have my copy on hand, but it's there and it has a still-current sexual meaning. I agree with John Drakakis that context is everything, but I think when Leontes uses "i'fecks," sex is on Leontes's mind, the sexual activity he suspects Hermione of. To Duncan Salkeld, was MMW intended to be MWW, Merry Wives?

 

To limit myself to one message for the day, I also want to thank those who replied to my inquiry about Giulio Romano.

Jack Heller

 

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Eric Johnson-DeBaufre < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         February 7, 2010 7:06:16 PM EST

Subject:      Shakespeare's F words

 

John Drakakis writes: "I suppose it's a question of when the 'f' word in its modern guise came into common currency."

 

Although I'm not certain that "fecks" would have regularly been taken for "fucks," I feel fairly confident that early modern English readers had the 'f word as part of their linguistic arsenal. Surely 17th century readers would have taken the same delight their 21st century counterparts do when they encounter the initial long s in editions of Donne's "The Flea":

 

Marke but this flea, and marke in this,

How little that which thou deny'st me is;

It fuck'd me first, and now fucks thee,

And in this flea, our two bloods mingled bee;

Thou know'st that this cannot be said

A finne, nor fhame nor losse of maidenhead

 

That's why I stand by what I said to Peter Stallybrass recently: in certain cases, we should preserve the initial long s in our MS transcriptions (and, in the case of Donne, even in editions of early printed books) because silently changing it to a modern s risks losing an additional register of meaning that may have been available to early modern readers.

 

Eric Johnson-DeBaufre

 

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Anthony Burton < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         February 8, 2010 12:52:45 PM EST

Subject: 21.0062  Shakespeare's F Words

Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0062  Shakespeare's F Words

 

I recall seeing a play in London some years back, laid in Ireland and salted with "feck," "feckin'", etc. from both sexes. After the show at dinner with a number of actors and spouses I asked whether the word was to be understood as especially vulgar or just an Irish usage, or what else, and was told that "feck" is characteristically but not at all exclusively Irish and had become totally acceptable in polite company, while the stronger (and spam-filtered) form of the same remains vulgarly offensive. Of course, these were all actors, and their "polite" company might not have extended to the more delicate fringes of society.

 

Has anyone else knowledge for or against this distinction?

 

Tony B

 

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