Sorchia's Universe

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D is for Damn

▶ Rhett Butler – Scarlett O’Hara: Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn… – YouTube.


Today’s word is Damn—as in “Damn, I can’t find a magic word starting with  D.”  Then again, damn is a common curse word.  It comes from a Latin word which means “to inflict loss on or to judge or to doom” and we still use it that way.

In America, the word was not commonly—if ever—used in print or film until Margaret Mitchell wrote and Rhett Butler said it in Gone with the Wind in 1939. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”  And who in their right minds would censure Clark Gable?  Generally, damn is considered a religious expletive. To some Christians it indicates either condemnation of God or at the very least an infringement on whichever commandment tells you not to take the Lord’s name in vain.

I think of it in more traditional curse terms—if you say “God damn you” to someone, you are asking God to send the miserable miscreant before you to Hell for eternity.   In America we use it as a noun “ I don’t give a damn”, a verb “Damn the torpedoes”, an adjective “Where did you get the damn(ed) car?”, an interjection “Damn, that’s good.”  Sometimes we try to soften it by saying darn or writing it dam, but we really mean damn.

A few other usages caught my attention if you are interested.

Tinker’s dam—Tinkers work with molten metal. They use a bit of clay as a dam to keep the molten metal where it’s supposed to be, then the dam is discarded—and so a tinker’s dam is of low value.  Using the phrase I don’t give a tinker’s dam is probably a way to soften the curse damn as well as to indicate the worthlessness of the speaker’s regard for whatever the topic of conversation is.  Tinkers were known for their bad language—understandable when you consider how often a bit of that molten metal would have splashed on fingers, faces, appendages.  from http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/tinker%27s_damn.

Hot damn appeared in print in the 1920s in the book Wildcat by Hugh Wiley.  As with many words and behaviors, it may have been familiar long before that. Once it appeared in print and the world didn’t end, other writer’s added it as well. from http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/20950/where-does-hot-damn-come-from.

As I looked up the etymology of Damn, I came across lots of other profanities and have become convinced that if one studies the use, spread, changes in profanity, one will be able to trace the evolution of human thought, as well.

If you have other insights into the word damn or if you want to tell me what other D word I could have used today, feel free to leave a damn comment.

Cover by Oghma Creative Media

Cover by Oghma Creative Media

C is for Curses

Looking for magic words eventually led me to the dark side—curses.  What if some jealous jinn or a wandering malevolent spirit saw fit to send snaking coils of evil magic my way?  It seemed only prudent to be ready to zap enemies into green goo if necessary.

Even Pagans don’t encourage curses though it is often argued some people invite curses. The logic is that a curse has to be pretty strong to go against Karma so if a curse works, it’s “meant” to work and is another thread in the fabric of existence. In other words, the bastards get what they deserve.  Wiccans, and other pagans, generally argue that what you send out into the universe will come back to you times three, or times ten.  This would seem to discourage anybody from sending bad feelings off on the wind. The way around that is rooted in semantics.  I’m pretty sure this is what the Wicked Witch of the West meant when she said, “These things must be done delicately”.  Instead of sending evil intentions toward some unsuspecting, but deserving dolt, you can instead phrase your curse to reflect back to them what they send your way.  That way, they do it to themselves and you are blameless and the Universe won’t be unhappy with you. That’s the theory.

But the origination of the word itself is a bit of a dark mystery which leaves my writer brain a lot of leeway.  Maybe it was a word used by alien overlords to subjugate our ancestors or maybe a Druid made it part of a ritual in an oak grove. Who knows?

The word used as a noun—a prayer for evil to befall someone—may have come from the Old French curuz “anger,” or Latin cursus “course.” That puts its first use somewhere in the 11th century when it might have been used as curs.  No similar words exist in other languages related to English.  It’s possible the word is from a Vulgar Latin derivative of Latin corrumpere which means to destroy.  Corrumpere is the root of English words like corrupt.

For better or worse, many heavy duty curses have made their way into legend.  To see full descriptions, take a look at these links. From Tecumseh’s curse on American presidents to the Curse of Tutankhamen’s tomb to the Curse of The Billy Goat, the popularity of casting curses is still going strong.

The 6 Most Strangely Convincing Real-Life Curses | Cracked.com.

HowStuffWorks “10 Famous Curses”.

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Cover by Oghma Creative Media

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Friday Fictioneers–Residuals

Friday Fictioneer contribution for April the twoth.

Rochelle, at http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/, posts the picture prompt on Wednesdays. The challenge is to write a 100-word story from it.

Theatrical superstitions and legends abound. I chose

copyright-Kent Bonham

copyright-Kent Bonham

Macbeth, of course, and hope this homage doesn’t seem cheeky to Shakespearean experts—of whose number I am not one. If you enjoy my Friday Fictioneer entries, take a minute to look at my A-Z Blogs.

Residuals

The lights come up. My cue. My gauzy gown about me floats. My crimson fingers dip into the silver chalice and, though the water twins their hue, they are stained beyond redemption. My crime—dark offense—will not be washed away by petty gestures. Eternally, I trod the boards and with those on this stage, I share the curse, double-double, three times three. Miserable wretches, doomed by their own words, a pricking of the thumbs they sense, as I pass— no more. At curtain’s fall, I into the ether fly. When next the Scottish play’s afoot, I will be there.

B is for Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo

Extended Clip: Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo | Disney Video.

In my quest for the perfect, all-powerful magic word, I turned to that font of demonic words and symbology, Disney.  In the animated Cinderella (1950) I struck pay dirt with the song “Bibbetty Bobbety Boo.” The song is sung by the fairy godmother so how could it be bad? Well, let me tell you.

Strangely, the phrase has a history prior to Disney’s Cinderella. Ivan Turgenev was a Russion writer of short stories, novels, and plays. In 1842, he wrote a short story titled “The Adventure of Second Lieutenant Bubnov. “ In the story, The Devil invites Bubnov to dinner and introduces him to his grandchild, Babebibobu.  It’s difficult to tell if the Devil wants to marry Bubonov to the granddaughter or serve him as the main course.  Either way, it’s a difficult evening for Bubnov. The name of the girl/demon is a bit different from the title of the charming song in Cinderella, but it’s close enough to make one wonder if the writers were either A) very well read with odd, possibly alcohol-fueled, senses of humor, B) demons in disguise, or C) Both.

Notice also in the clip that the fairy godmother does a bit of widdershins wand waving (counter-clockwise used for banishing spells or even curses) and that the cat’s name is Lucifer. And she says the part that does the trick is bibbidi- bobbidi-boo.  All suspicious to conspiracy theorists, but tantalizing and enchanting to those of us who seek unique so-called coincidences.

And I don’t even want to get into whether Disney was a Satanist or whether he or his minions put Satanic signs and porn in their movies and cartoons. Usually, people see what they want to though a couple of instances are pretty graphic—cartoonists having fun, I think. For me, all this is just something fun to watch for—and the only reason I watch Disney movies at all.  If we’re going to gripe about Disney movies, I’d rather spend time on the historical inaccuracies and the horrible way women and people of color are depicted in them.

Since its use in Cinderella, the phrase has been used in a number of Disney products. It’s also been analyzed in a South Park episode and referred to in other forms such as characters in Dragon Ball.  I hum it all the time and taught it to my kids (which could explain a few odd manifestations and disappearances, now that I think about it.  Thanks, Walt.

The lyrics of the song, as with the title, are composed nearly entirely of nonsense. The Cinderella LP insert lists the lyrics as follows:

Salagadoola mechicka boola bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

Put ’em together and what have you got?

Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo.

Salagadoola mechicka boola bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

It’ll do magic believe it or not.

Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo.

Salagadoola means

Mechicka boolaroo,

But the thingmabob that does the job is bibbidi-bobbidi-boo.

Salagadoola mechicka boola bibbidi-bobbidi-boo .

Put ’em together and what have you got?

Bibbidi-bobbidi bibbidi-bobbidi bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo

Got a comment about Disney? Satanism? Cartoons? Porn? Leave it here and don’t forget to like and check out my website at SorchiaDuBois.com.

Cover by Oghma Creative Media

Cover by Oghma Creative Media