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Garpy
03-18-2008, 05:31 PM
Hi, I'm just going through proofs...and my copy editor is pretty certain that although the word 'f*ck' was in use back in 1850's America it wouldn't have been used in the following way:

'For f*ck's sake you idiot...'

'F*ck it, they're staying with us...'

Can anybody throw any light on how the F word might have been used in the wilds of America circa 1850 by a corse and unrefined trapper? I have googled but so far drawn a blank.

HeronW
03-18-2008, 05:36 PM
http://www.authentic-campaigner.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-1097.html

might help

Prozyan
03-18-2008, 05:43 PM
In the 1850s it most likely would have been used as particularly vulgar and lowbase talk for sexual copulation.

The rise of modern usage, such as some of the examples you listed above, didn't really begin until the 1920s - 30s.

joyce
03-18-2008, 06:26 PM
My novel starts in the 1850's and I also used the word. My beta pointed it out to me, thinking it was out of place for that time. I ended up changing it after thinking about the whole use of the word during that time. Even in the 60's my parents thought the word was horrible, so I figured in the 1850's it must have really been a bad word. Good luck in your choice.

grommet
03-18-2008, 06:37 PM
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the usage you describe doesn't really fall into documented use until 1879. Up until that point, it really was restricted to being used as a synonym for sex.

grommet (http://www.kathrynmillerhaines.com)

Garpy
03-18-2008, 06:42 PM
thanks people. I shall ammend it....seems my c-editor is right on the money.

johnnysannie
03-18-2008, 07:23 PM
I agree with Southern Writer.

For one, "fuck" is one of the three oldest words in the English language and although it was not often used in print (although it has been documented in print as early as 1500), the word was and is used.

In "A Writer's Guide To Everyday Life In the 1800's", in the swear words section (page 48 in my copy) it says: Fuck:used throughout the century.

Robert Burns used it in 1800 - in work that was not published till 1911.

It has Germanic origins (think Anglo-Saxon, the Saxon being Germanic) and has had wide use for centuries.

The Scip
03-18-2008, 07:57 PM
Fornicate Under Consent of the King was, I believe the original acronym for the f-word.

IceCreamEmpress
03-18-2008, 08:11 PM
This is my least favorite urban legend ever!

Fornicate Under Consent of the King was, I believe the original acronym for the f-word.

As the Snopes folks say, no way! (http://www.snopes.com/language/acronyms/fuck.asp)

People said "fuck" in the 1850s, but they didn't use it in place of every part of speech--it was only used as a verb meaning "to copulate". The amazing chameleon-like qualities of this word developed much later in the 19th century, and were well-established in both the US and UK by World War I.

In the 1850s, profanity had a much sharper edge than it does now--there were still anti-blasphemy laws in most US states--and "For Christ's sake" and "Damn it all" were as strong/coarse/vulgar then as "For fuck's sake" and "Fuck it all" are today.

William Cook
03-18-2008, 08:23 PM
Fornicate Under Consent of the King was, I believe the original acronym for the f-word.


That's very cool - thanks - I'll use that!!!

The Scip
03-18-2008, 08:23 PM
This is my least favorite urban legend ever!



As the Snopes folks say, no way! (http://www.snopes.com/language/acronyms/fuck.asp)

People said "fuck" in the 1850s, but they didn't use it in place of every part of speech--it was only used as a verb meaning "to copulate". The amazing chameleon-like qualities of this word developed much later in the 19th century, and were well-established in both the US and UK by World War I.

In the 1850s, profanity had a much sharper edge than it does now--there were still anti-blasphemy laws in most US states--and "For Christ's sake" and "Damn it all" were as strong/coarse/vulgar then as "For fuck's sake" and "Fuck it all" are today.

You learn something everyday! :)

William Cook
03-18-2008, 09:20 PM
That's very cool - thanks - I'll use that!!!


HeHe - I suppose if it had been during the reign of a Queen it would be fuckQ :D

IceCreamEmpress
03-18-2008, 09:24 PM
HeHe - I suppose if it had been during the reign of a Queen it would be fuckQ :D

Yeah, don't use that, because it's not actually true.

geardrops
03-18-2008, 10:21 PM
I love this thread so much.

You have also unwittingly helped me :D Thanks!

johnnysannie
03-18-2008, 10:25 PM
Fornicate Under Consent of the King was, I believe the original acronym for the f-word.

It's already been noted that that's not true but another rumored one was "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge". Not true either but a piece of trivia.

Ervin
03-18-2008, 10:47 PM
I think the problem is that you put the word in a very casual situation for the 1800s. You should simply take it out, and use it in a much more demanding situation.

Pup
03-18-2008, 11:29 PM
Another article that might help: http://www.columbiarifles.org/Articles/Cussing.html

To echo what Prozyan and others have said, "f*ck" was used in the mid 19th century in crude and all male conversation, but I've only seen it as a synonym for the sexual act. I've not seen any pre-1870ish example of it used as a general multi-purpose exclamation or modifier as in the examples in the first post.

What I would suggest--and this can be a problem--is relying more on blasphemy. "For God's sake, you idiot..." or better yet, "For God's sake, you son of a bitch..." Or "To hell with it, they're staying with us..."

The problem arises because it doesn't sound quite as vulgar today, as it did back then, but in context it can work.

Edited to add: That'll teach me to only skim a thread before answering the original post! I just saw that IceCreamEmpress said the same thing about blasphemy. Well, now you've got two opinions that agree. :D

Judg
03-19-2008, 05:27 AM
The acronym stories are all false. The German equivalent is almost identical to the English word, and they certainly didn't look to English to find their swear words. English swear words find their roots primarily in Germanic words.

Shweta
03-19-2008, 05:36 AM
And the dutch verb "fokken" is "to breed, to raise". I don't know that it's vulgar there, though of course the English usage would influence that anyway.

Mumut
03-19-2008, 06:17 AM
And they say Old English came mainly from Frisian. I once looked up the word in an eighteenth century dictionary and one of the meanings was to plough or propagate - to dig a hole and place a seed into it. I can imagine a peasant entering his cottage after a hard day's work saying, 'Well, me dear. I've f***ed that field'. Wife looks out at the rough ploughing job and answers. 'Yes, dear. You sure did!'

wayndom
03-19-2008, 06:23 AM
Anyone using "fuck" in 1850's America would have to be either extremely low on the social totem pole, or discussing the act itself. In no event would it be used in mixed company.

The concept of obscenity was taken so seriously in the 1800's that all the substitutes for "cusses" (dang for damn, shoot for shit, etc.), quickly became regarded as full-fledged cusses themselves (which may be why they had about six or seven substitute words for each "root" cuss).

It was considered completely unacceptable, therefore, for a man to say, "Drat it!" within earshot of a woman or (heaven forbid!) an innocent child.

wayndom
03-19-2008, 06:27 AM
The acronym stories are all false.

The silliest thing about Fornication Under Carnal Knowledge story (as it was once told to me), is that it supposedly came into usage in medieval times, when only a handful of people were literate -- not exactly a social climate that breeds acronyms!

IceCreamEmpress
03-19-2008, 07:56 AM
Well, if this character was a coarse trapper, he would use obscenity and profanity in some situations.

But he wouldn't use anachronistic obscenity or profanity.

My favorite bit of 19th-century US linguistic prudery is the saying "I swan!" As in "I swan, Josiah, there's a cow loose in the back field again!"

It's a euphemism for "I swear" because even saying "I swear" was inappropriate for polite company.

Pup
03-19-2008, 09:16 AM
Men never used obsene words in the presence of a lady, even a prostitute or whore as they were called.

I'd say a prostitute would be an exception. Take a look at My Secret Life, for example, and other obscene literature of the period. Without a time machine, we'll never know what actually was said, but it doesn't seem logical that men would report talking dirty to prostitutes, yet not actually do it.

HeronW
03-19-2008, 04:39 PM
lily-livered, low-born, base-born, scalaway, bounder, cad, scrofulous poxy bastard was always a good'un :}

seun
03-19-2008, 04:42 PM
This thread just goes to show that swearing has always been big and clever. Even in the fucking olden days. :D

Saundra Julian
03-20-2008, 04:48 AM
And they say Old English came mainly from Frisian. I once looked up the word in an eighteenth century dictionary and one of the meanings was to plough or propagate - to dig a hole and place a seed into it. I can imagine a peasant entering his cottage after a hard day's work saying, 'Well, me dear. I've f***ed that field'. Wife looks out at the rough ploughing job and answers. 'Yes, dear. You sure did!'

Beverage Alert!
Thanks, now I need a new keyboard!