Friday, September 17, 2004

Cuss Words

I watched part of Smokey and the Bandit last night. I haven't seen it in years and thus had forgotten some of the funnier Jackie Gleason one-liners and insults in it. "Tick-turd" would have to be my favorite forgotten insult.

One thing I noticed (even back in the seventies when I saw it at the theater) was Jackie Gleason's use of "sumbitch" instead of "sonovabitch" which is how I've always heard it pronounced. I've traveled through most (but not all) of the South and I can safely say I've never heard a Southerner pronounce it "sumbitch." Now, I have heard yankees who were trying to sound like hicks say it that way, but never a Southerner. Whether there are places in the South were "sumbitch" is the pronunciation is the question then. I think I've seen Rob Smith write it, but writing it is one thing, using it in speech is another. It is shorter than spelling all three words... and it does convey a certain flavor to the written word.

My dad was a truck driver when I was growing up and he would sometimes take me with him on trips, so I was exposed to a wide variety of cuss words at an early age. Not so much from my dad as from the people one meets in truck stops. Because of a youth spent around farmers, mechanics, truck drivers, farriers, horse traders and mill workers I considered myself well versed in the art of cussing...

That was before I met the loggers. That's "Loggers," not "Bloggers."

I had never in my life been around anybody else that could cut loose with such an unadulterated profanity as I heard from these guys. And it wasn't just that every third word was a four letter one, it was the combinations that they used. I saw the boss shut down the loader he was running, climb up on top of it and pour forth such a stream of invective on to a truck driver that I wished I had a tape recorder, or at least a notebook. I don't think the man paused to draw breath for at least five minutes. I had a couple of buddies in the Marines at the time who could have gained some valuble knowledge from this guy. I doubt if R. Lee Ermey could compete with this fellow.

I saw him a few months ago, he's still in the timber business, but he's settled down considerably since he got married and had kids.