7 Responses

  1. Tweets that mention Bad Words – Society for Linguistic Anthropology -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alexandre Enkerli, Linguistic Anthro. Linguistic Anthro said: Bad Words: Why I find “geek”, when used as a slur, more offensive than words which may commonly be viewed as quite… http://bit.ly/dANokW […]

  2. Chad Nilep
    Chad Nilep August 6, 2010 at 10:23 am |

    This may be just a reiteration of one of your points, but I hope it’s an amplification.

    I predict that Banana Mango would engender an even greater panic or revulsion than mother-fucking shit head. This panic, I theorize, arises not only from the fact that it is intellectually precocious, but also from the fact that it is playful.

    Language play of this sort brings together jocularity and play, a form of educational/ intellectual ingenuity, and use of (as well as comment on) “adult language”. These genres, in turn, range from one expected of children, one presented to children through education, and one withheld from children. The juxtaposition, in short, may jar the principal’s sense of moral order.

  3. Judy
    Judy August 6, 2010 at 6:45 pm |

    Thank you for the amplification, @Chad. I agree, there is a lot going on with Mango Banana and I’m glad that my exploration of the topic is not driven only by my personal attachment to the players. I really need to think more about play as central here and the rule of the ludic in challenging established order.

  4. Judy
    Judy August 6, 2010 at 6:57 pm |

    My daughter sent me the following (with permission to re-post), and I think it very nicely illustrates the ludic nature of the events that Chad mentions.

    mom, i think the post looks great! i read it thoroughly, and i think that people will clearly get the general message , along with the details. by the way, i cant see any mistakes, but i was wondering if you wanted to include the part about how the words that we used veggies and fruits to imply were fairly common ones, hello, yes, no, and that sort of thing. also, one of the reasons that we first developed the ‘code’, so it was called by my fellow vegetables, was because a “rival” group of classmates were using their own, original code to simply answer questions by saying ‘ice cream’ or something like that. so, we decided to do the same; making substitutes for only question-answering words. then, we branched out to things like hello, goodbye, and code names for everyone in our group. after that, we decided to make a word for our own humor: thus, ‘ice cream’ meant ‘i am a leprachaun’. that was when one of our little ‘club’ decided to make bad words. one of the girls in the group, my best friend, as it were, and i decided to make names for two of the girls in the other group, specifically ‘kiwi’ and ‘apple’. then, some of our group went calling people ‘mangos’ and ‘bananas’. thus, the principal overreacted, and chaos reigned.
    p.s. you may use my email as a quote in your blog, if you like. :-) :-D love elizabeth;-)

  5. Linguistic Anthropology Roundup #12 – Society for Linguistic Anthropology

    […] Westerm Washington University‘s Judy Pine has started blogging for us and “Linguistic Anthropology Roundup #11″ was a blogpost about “bad words,” invented languages, and youth. […]

  6. Lisa
    Lisa September 1, 2011 at 11:41 am |

    I loved your article- it was very informative and enjoyable And I find it rather entertaining that your 11-year-old daughter has a better grasp of the English language than most adults I’ve come across. That may have to do with having a linguistic anthropologist as a parent, but it’s impressive nonetheless.

  7. VR Abubo
    VR Abubo July 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm |

    I found this post looking for some good definitions of geek and I think one of the reasons geek is now more used and accepted is that is a word that can be just as empowering as degrading. I’m proud to call myself a geek or nerd (I will admit that both words can apply to me even though nerd is a little more negative) and there are many other people that have started franchises doing the same. We has power :)

    However, I might also stipulate that the principle was the victim of a vicious meme. I might have spelled that wrong, but I studied memes in relation to Benjamin Franklin who, along with many others, observed how some ideas seemed to manifest at the same time globally and without connection. I think your daughter and her friends unconsciously picked up on a meme involving this fruit language because, around the year 2000, me and my friends had almost the exact same language (from what you posted of it) and as a substitute I have seen this same phanomon in other unrelated schools. While it is clear that the principle overreacted, it seems like the battle of fruits might be on a larger scale than either of us can realize. :)

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