If you’re in the mood for a set-to, this is your lucky day. This post will touch on several controversial subjects before it wraps. Surely, one of them will twist your shorts. If not, you are likely an old gent, probably conservative, likely ex-military or some similar “fraternity.”1
As my posts go, this is benign. Feels like it so far anyway. Won’t even rate an ‘NSFW’ but with me, you just never can tell. Buckle-up.
You know the sound a rooster makes when he crows. I can’t even spell it. Common way, stateside, is “cock-a-doodle-doo,” which does not do the sound justice. Not even discounting breed, age, and geographic differences.2 Anyone who’s ever been around chickens knows that’s as close to the real deal as trying to spell the sound of raspberries.3
Lady chickens4 have interesting vocalizations too. When they cluck strolling around the barnyard it’s different from when they cackle with pride announcing they’ve just laid an egg.
You know I did not intend to spend my time exploring “fowl talk.” For entertainment, before I launch properly, here’s a twenty-five-word short originally posted in May to Prose.
“Don’t see Old Red.”
“Attacked the kids.”
“What’d ya do?”
Swearing, coarse language, vulgarity…
Yunh. Foul language. I didn’t come here to play Doctor Dolittle. Did want to explain what the more astute among you may have noticed if you are a regular reader.
To the amazement of many, I got along talking and writing for over seventy years just fine, thank you very much. Recently and suddenly, it was brought to my attention I swear more than necessary. “Necessary,” I’m told, is zero.
Not sure exactly why, or if it was a good thing, but in my life, I spent a lot of time in all-male situations. School sports, back in the days before batting helmets and NASA-engineered football helmets, was all male. Military. Law enforcement. Not exclusively male, but preponderantly.
Males as a rule don’t “shoosh” one another when one in their crowd is profane, scatological, or lascivious. Not a point of honor. Not fear of being shunned as a sissy. Just male.
Women might be the same. I don’t know. Never found myself in a “tight” situation with a number of females. Have had discussions with brutally frank women and am led to believe it’s less frequent than it is with males, but that the ladies do go toilet-mouth or crude often. Some suggested the ladies might even put males to shame. Why not? They do in every other endeavor.
My language and propensity to evil and less than polite thoughts manifesting in what I think, say, and write could become troublesome. My web audience is expanding. It is increasingly more difficult to be only mildly offensive and then with a certain amount of decorum. That may seem a bit incongruous, but I’m going to stand with that: there are times, certain fictional works where something less than “church” vocabulary is natural; not being vulgar or coarse violates characters, detracts from a story.
Then, you have no idea how difficult it is to sterilize my writing when I work on a piece that is ideally suited for younger people. Even then, there’s always a nagging thought “what if” I’ve not exercised perfect control?
It is time to upside-down my writing technique. It might be best that I reach a point I must work to get into a scenario where “blue” is required. Near squeaky-clean must become more the norm. I’m not stupid. I cannot hope for this to be one-hundred percent effective. Besides, I’d bore myself to tears.
Minding my mouth
Depriving myself of comfortable and familiar adjectives, adverbs, and nouns, I have no recourse but to use pedestrian words I’d as soon leave to genteel folk like William F. Buckley. Mr. Buckley, who isn’t with us anymore, was one of few people I know5 who made you ruin a dictionary trying to understand what he said. Eloquence.
I’m not about to pull my (circa 1965) Miriam Webster out of storage to bone-up. Neither will I bookmark lexicographic aids. Not yet. First, I’ll deplete my store of words long-languishing for disuse. Figuring how old I am and how long I have yet to run, I might not need to pick-up any new words. What I long ago mastered but have forgotten (mi dimentico: the Italian is so explicit here) may suffice. Besides, a surfeit of vocabulary might leave no choice but then to focus on things like punctuation and spelling. Ugh.
As an exercise, I tried writing dialogue sans expletives and explicit or insinuating slang. Pounding away at the keyboard, narrative felt as if I’d been asked to prepare a lay sermon for the Baptist church. Yeah, like that would ever happen. Putting a rock in my back pocket to make sitting at that task more uncomfortable than it already was, I gave it another go. Two brand new characters (required for dialogue, you know) got carried away and I had no choice but to wash their mouths out with soap.
While writing was arduous, editing afterward, I put myself to sleep.
It’s going to be one hell of a challenge. Nertz! I’m going to give it a shot.
But I’m not making any promises.
1 Nothing sexist here. It’s a bad habit. Uncomfortable in management, speaking to large groups, except naturally new clients, I addressed my audience as “you guys.” I consider all people, male, female, other (specify), and ‘decline to answer’ equal and refer to equals as “guys.”
2 Depending on breed, crowing roosters sound decidedly unique. Years ago, I raised a few chickens, though not a “chicken farmer” and am not expert. I cannot differentiate between a Light Brahma, Rhode Island Red, Leghorn, and Jersey Giant when they crow, but they are different. Then, a rooster from Booger’s Bend Mississippi will have a marked southern drawl, “ark-arka-a-eeew y’all” whereas a rooster from Sawtooth Gap, in Michigan’s YewPee will sound almost Canadian, “urka-urka-eere eh?”
3 The derisive, frustrated, or resigned sound made blowing air through pursed lips with or without the tip of your tongue gently pushing your lower lip down. Attempted spellings include “Pb-b-b-b-b-t!” “Tph-b-b-t-t-t!” or some such.
4 Realizing this is just asking for trouble, chickens and ducks can pull off somewhat of a natural sex change. I don’t know of other avians, or other animal species. Do know a hen can develop a rooster-like comb, feathers, and mannerisms, even crow. There are other ramifications as you might imagine. Understand this is because if an ovary is damaged or malfunctioning the other gonad may start producing androgens. I’m not even going to provide links to web references. If you’re interested, do some searching. I know all I care to know about the phenomenon. Does mean a “hen” could “crow.” Reflecting on that raises some interesting gender-specificity questions.
5 One of the few people I know. There are likely scads of people out there like Mr. Buckley. I am not familiar with them. I didn’t know Mr. Buckley; I knew of him, admired his linguistic and analytic skills and his politics.