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View Full Version : UK friends, slang help, "Bugger"



Drachen Jager
12-03-2014, 01:40 AM
Over here, I don't think anyone would bat an eye if a 13 year old used the word "bugger" in an upper-MG novel. It's not in common use, so it loses impact.

I know what it means, though, so I need to ask. Would a UK audience be offended, or is it such a common word nobody would think twice. In this case, the 13 year old is telling a boy to "bugger off" because he's pestering her. I want the dialogue to be authentic British (preferably something that's been in use a while, since the novel is set in the 1930s, but don't worry about her knowing (or using) such a word, she's been around).

If "bugger off" is too much, what might be a reasonable alternative?

Fruitbat
12-03-2014, 01:51 AM
Doesn't "bugger" actually mean "butt fuck?" :roll:

Erm, perhaps an upper middle grade child would say "get lost" or "forget you?"

Then again, I'm in the U.S. so what do I know. :)

mirandashell
12-03-2014, 01:57 AM
Hmm... these days no one would even blink. But in the 30's? Not so much. What class is she and where does she live? What kind of family does she have?

cat_named_easter
12-03-2014, 02:02 AM
I was about to respond with "yeah, that's totally fine" - but then I read that your novel is set in the 1930s, so actually I think back then it would have been seen as quite a curse word, especially for a 13-year old (think the connection to its real meaning would be more immediate and shocking). But then again, if there aren't any adults around in the scene, the kid might say it.
Alternatives:
Buzz off

... OK so I really can't think of any other alternatives without swearing.

mirandashell
12-03-2014, 02:05 AM
I'm no expert on this and there are others on the board who will know better than me but..... it really will depend on what class she is.

Upper class and low working class would swear fairly freely cos they wouldn't care what other people thought of them. But the middle classes were a different matter. Respectability was massively important to them.

Drachen Jager
12-03-2014, 02:39 AM
Hmm... these days no one would even blink. But in the 30's? Not so much. What class is she and where does she live? What kind of family does she have?

She's from London. No family. No class (figuratively). Literally, she'd be bottom-tier.

I have no problem with HER saying it within the setting, if it would be very unusual for a child to say it in that era then it actually suits her character better. It's more about what other kids/parents today would think.

stephenf
12-03-2014, 02:56 AM
Hi
Bugger is actuly a very old word and it's meaning is obscure . Like , he is a lucky bugger , bugger off, bugger me, bugger you, you old bugger. There are many more and would be used in the thirties , mostly by the working class . The more accepted dictionary meaning , anal sex, has little if any relevance to it's common usage .

Littlebit66
12-03-2014, 03:46 AM
I thought it was a British version of the f word.

Fruitbat
12-03-2014, 03:51 AM
Hi
Bugger is actuly a very old word and it's meaning is obscure . Like , he is a lucky bugger , bugger off, bugger me, bugger you, you old bugger. There are many more and would be used in the thirties , mostly by the working class . The more accepted dictionarie meaning , anal sex, has little if any relivence to it's common usage .

Thank you. :)

Helix
12-03-2014, 03:52 AM
I thought it was a British version of the f word.

I believe "fuck" is the British version of the f word.

Littlebit66
12-03-2014, 04:01 AM
Lol!

Drachen Jager
12-03-2014, 04:17 AM
I believe "fuck" is the British version of the f word.

Not to be confused with the Irish, "Fook", meaning whatever the fook you want it to, so long as you fookin' use it at least two or tree fookin times a sentence.

;)

Drachen Jager
12-03-2014, 04:18 AM
Seriously, though, thanks for your help everyone!

Helix
12-03-2014, 04:29 AM
The word 'bugger' has become such a part of the culture (in Aust and NZ, anyway) that entire ads are created around it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBoUXV_dpAk).

thepicpic
12-03-2014, 11:32 AM
You could also try 'sod off'. It's a criminally underused word if you ask me.

Mr Flibble
12-03-2014, 12:34 PM
It's more about what other kids/parents today would think.

Well some people will take issue. But not many tbh. Didn't one of the POTC films have "bugger" in it? Anyway, afaia (and I recall this coming up at work once, no , really) bugger isn't considered swearing. As for usage in the 30's - George V's last words were said to be "Bugger Bognor".


You could also try 'sod off'. It's a criminally underused word if you ask me.

Very true.

Becky Black
12-03-2014, 01:45 PM
It will depend on herclass for sure. If she's working class, it would be fine. If she's middle or upper class then she might still say it, but more consciously with the intent to shock, or she's picked it up from hanging out with some ruffians. ;)

Becky Black
12-03-2014, 01:48 PM
Hi
Bugger is actuly a very old word and it's meaning is obscure . Like , he is a lucky bugger , bugger off, bugger me, bugger you, you old bugger. There are many more and would be used in the thirties , mostly by the working class . The more accepted dictionary meaning , anal sex, has little if any relevance to it's common usage .

It's such a versatile swear word. Definitely one of my favourites. I like some of the words created from it. Like the "buggeration!" exclamation. Or "embuggerance" for something stopping you doing something you're trying to do, or an especially annoying inconvenience of some kind.

thepicpic
12-03-2014, 05:25 PM
It's such a versatile swear word. Definitely one of my favourites. I like some of the words created from it. Like the "buggeration!" exclamation. Or "embuggerance" for something stopping you doing something you're trying to do, or an especially annoying inconvenience of some kind.

Embuggerance is my new favourite word.

Steve Collins
12-03-2014, 07:16 PM
Had a look in my 1937 edition of Slang and unconventional English. It really has many meanings of which Sodomy is only one. There is a lot of reference to it being used by Tommies in the Great War (1914) such as "It's a bugger making a raid on a wet night". It also referred to a soldier mortally wounded "He's buggered". I think in the 30's a girl in London would use it as a strong expletive. One reference refers to "Bugger you" as meaning "Go to the Devil".

mirandashell
12-03-2014, 08:49 PM
If she's middle or upper class then she might still say it

I'm not sure that as true about the upper classes. Part of being upper class is not having to care what people think of you. Respectability is/was only really important to the middle classes. And the upwardly mobile working class.

Faye-M
12-03-2014, 09:29 PM
I used to hear "piss off" a lot. I don't know whether they said that in the 30s, but it's another alternative to look into.

Xelebes
12-03-2014, 11:43 PM
Doesn't "bugger" actually mean "butt fuck?" :roll:

No. It means "heretic." Butt-sex was heretical and so was called buggery. Other behaviours were labeled as buggery, hence the expansion of use in slang, especially as a stand in for "heretic", "heretical" and "heresy."

Mr Flibble
12-03-2014, 11:49 PM
My favourite part* is that it supposedly comes from "Bulgarian", due to the heretical practices they supposedly partook of, but probably did no more of than anywhere else in Europe. Basically, propaganda.


*This is most certainly less tickle inducing if you are, in fact, Bulgarian.

Drachen Jager
12-04-2014, 02:05 AM
Thanks everyone.

As always AW is a bottomless pit of information.

I think "sod off" is an excellent stand-in, and ought to work better with the puritanical audiences in North America as well (enough people on this side of the pond seem to associate it with anal sex, and I don't think I want to be singled out for anything like that in an MG book). I've been avoiding "piss". My MC uses "whiz" a few times, "Go whiz up a rope." That's what the girl said too, until I realized it was a repeat and not very "British".

Sod seems like a perfect option. Not that she'd shy away from using the word, "bugger" (or worse, all my little group of MCs have real attitude problems, but like I say, my concern is more for the readers (and doubly so for their parents)).

mirandashell
12-04-2014, 02:11 AM
We say 'wee' rather than 'whiz', I think. But 'wee up a rope', not so much.

Mr Flibble
12-04-2014, 04:35 AM
yeah, whiz is basically an american term for pee. No one here would say it. Except in relation to amphetamine.

Possibly not what you're going for? :) Go piss up a rope also seems a bit US(we tend to be more direct in our insults)

My hubby's current fave is "go stick your head in a pig" if that helps?

Faye-M
12-04-2014, 05:48 AM
Sod seems like a perfect option. Not that she'd shy away from using the word, "bugger" (or worse, all my little group of MCs have real attitude problems, but like I say, my concern is more for the readers (and doubly so for their parents)).

I'd actually have a problem with a middle grade kid reading a book that uses the term "sod off", but maybe I'm Puritanical like that. It was considered pretty strong language when I was a kid.

"Get lost" is a tried-and-true phrase of grumpy dismissal that wouldn't offend anybody.

Nualláin
12-04-2014, 06:54 AM
I don't think any 13 year old in Britain today would bat an eye at reading "bugger". They will have heard much, much worse than that in the schoolyard by that age, and would probably find it rather tame. Some parents might take issue, of course, but some parents tend to be totally disconnected from what their children do, see, and hear in that respect.

It's worth noting if you're concerned about sexual connotation that "sod" was originally rude because it's derived from "sodomite". So both words are actually connected to anal sex, although neither one retains that meaning in any but the most obscure context.

I also believe that extended meanings of sod, like 'sodding', 'sod-all', 'sod off', 'sod that', etc., developed in the '50s and '60s, while the noun range like 'you silly sod' were considerably earlier. So you may be a little out of your period there, but I can't be 100% certain of that without consulting some texts I don't have ready access to.

A safer expression might be "push off". Means exactly the same thing as bugger off and sod off, but without the lingering connotation of bottom-shagging. Unfortunately though, I'm wholly unfamiliar with its history -- I suspect it would have been current in your time period, but I have no evidence to back that up with.

LucyPR
12-06-2014, 05:12 AM
Another vote for "sod off". In England at least, "sod off" is more polite than "bugger off". "Sling your 'ook" (with 'ook meaning hook!) would be great too; I'm not sure how common the usage of that expression was during that time period though.

Bolero
12-06-2014, 11:22 PM
I'd class sod off and bugger off as equally rude, myself. Piss off a bit less rude.

I've certainly heard "go stick your head in a bucket" (rather than a pig.... :) ) but whether that was current 90 years back, that's another matter.

For re-enactment I once studied some popular 17th century curses (I've now forgotten) and they are most certainly not current now. I think you might need to look up 1920s parlance.

Matchu
12-09-2014, 12:53 AM
No swearing at all, unless you wish it to be an element in itself. Like 'Atonement...' almost.

Given the historical context, a child should expect be caned for the use of this word 'bugger' in her speech. Consequent to her lack of grace and vile bearing in a public or even private setting, jeopardy rightly surrounds all actions and ambition in the aftermath of the event. I suggest importantly also, that a rash slip of her tongue has delivered power to the adversary. Resultant to, or perhaps of, the error, she shall face his blackmail. Rotter, eh eh.

walloped for 'cow' in '83.

Old Hack
12-09-2014, 01:25 AM
Over here, I don't think anyone would bat an eye if a 13 year old used the word "bugger" in an upper-MG novel. It's not in common use, so it loses impact.

I know what it means, though, so I need to ask. Would a UK audience be offended, or is it such a common word nobody would think twice. In this case, the 13 year old is telling a boy to "bugger off" because he's pestering her. I want the dialogue to be authentic British (preferably something that's been in use a while, since the novel is set in the 1930s, but don't worry about her knowing (or using) such a word, she's been around).

If "bugger off" is too much, what might be a reasonable alternative?

I don't think many people would be offended by the term; but I wonder if you'd find a publisher willing to include it in an MG title.


I'm no expert on this and there are others on the board who will know better than me but..... it really will depend on what class she is.

Upper class and low working class would swear fairly freely cos they wouldn't care what other people thought of them. But the middle classes were a different matter. Respectability was massively important to them.

Class is incredibly pertinent in this instance, I think.


She's from London. No family. No class (figuratively). Literally, she'd be bottom-tier.


If she's English and in the 1930s, she has a class. And that class will influence everything she says and does, and everything that people think of her. Seriously. You can't just dismiss it like this.


No swearing at all, unless you wish it to be an element in itself. Like 'Atonement...' almost.

Given the historical context, a child should expect be caned for the use of this word 'bugger' in her speech. Consequent to her lack of grace and vile bearing in a public or even private setting, jeopardy rightly surrounds all actions and ambition in the aftermath of the event. I suggest importantly also, that a rash slip of her tongue has delivered power to the adversary. Resultant to, or perhaps of, the error, she shall face his blackmail. Rotter, eh eh.

walloped for 'cow' in '83.

Some children might have been caned in the 1930s for swearing. Others, probably the majority, wouldn't have.

It's nice to try to help but it's important to get things right.

shaldna
12-11-2014, 03:49 PM
Not to be confused with the Irish, "Fook", meaning whatever the fook you want it to, so long as you fookin' use it at least two or tree fookin times a sentence.

;)

'Fook'

Nah. Trust us, we're sayin' 'fuck' too. :P



We say 'wee' rather than 'whiz', I think. But 'wee up a rope', not so much.

We say pee over here because wee means something else.

'bugger' and 'sod' are both about as equally offensive - derived from buggery and sodomy, but these days no one really bats an eye lid. Wanker was always popular - My 80 year old granny is very fond of the word, but only lately realised that it doesn'tmean the same thing now as it did when she was young. That wasa fun conversation. :)