“. . . of outrageous fortune!” (Hamlet, the “To be, or not to be” speech): These we suffer.
First, let me say this week’s English phrase celebration covers all of my blog’s major focus areas: language play, animals, Outlander, free speech, reading, comedy, poetry, grammar, creativity, education, TV, and even Shakespeare! This post has it all–something for each reader. So enjoy!
Ordinarily I don’t condone name-calling, even in jest (unless you really know that the person can take it). But since it’s William Shakespeare we’re talking about, and since many words he used in his insults have fallen into disuse lately, what the heck! Let’s have some fun.
This week’s phrase-praising post deals in threes by looking at (1) bawdy insults featured in Shakespeare’s plays, (2) Outlander TV show insults identified by episode, and (3) a review of Five-Phrase Friday grammar lessons–your favorite!
Several online sources deal with Shakespearean insult creation, but MIT provides a succinct set of lists in three columns for your three-step, mix-and-match pleasure. They call it the Shakespearean Insult Kit.
How it works: Take an adjective from column 1, one from column 2, and a noun from column 3, put them together, and ‘zounds! Your own tailor-made Shakespearean insult.
This week’s collection of phrases comprise some of my favorite bawdy-leaning combinations from the kit.
Grammar Alert! Hey, look at that. Did you notice in that sentence the omnipresent type of word highlighted in previous Five-Phrase Friday (FPF) posts? FPF 4 and FPF 6 use or mention it, and FPF 8 uses it in one of the featured phrases. I’ve mentioned before that I tend to use a lot of these in my writing, especially my poetry. Final hint: This grammatical element shows up every week in another way as well.
Now, as for these insults, delivery is key. Each line must be shouted or growled aloud, convey real or mock anger/disgust at the target (be it animate or not), and follow the word “Thou” or “You,” just as one might with modern-day provoked and provocative name-calling. Relish the triumvirate of insulting results:
1. “Thou beslubbering reeling-ripe strumpet!”
2. “Thou mewling rump-fed codpiece!”
3. “Thou ruttish swag-bellied lewdster!”
4. “Thou frothy guts-griping pignut!”
5. “Thou gleeking knotty-pated canker-blossom!”
Bonus #1: “You cockered sheep-biting moldwarp!”
Bonus #2: “You spongy pox-marked nut-hook!”
Okay, now shake it off if you felt any of that being directed at you, go to the MIT kit, and fire back with gusto! (I can take it, I promise.)
With a nod to wild(and domesticated)life, other words I like in the kit use animals in part or whole:
bat-fowling, goatish, barnacle, beetle-headed, boar-pig, bugbear, currish, coxcomb, flap-dragon, flirt-gill, fly-bitten, harpy, hedge-pig, horn-beast, maggot-pie, malt-worm, pigeon-egg, ratsbane, venomed, toad-spotted, wagtail
Oooh, I like that last combo: “You venomed toad-spotted wagtail!” Or how about “Thou currish beetle-headed ratsbane!”? Now that’s a hybrid mutant!
Grammar Note: You may notice in some of these a type of word similar to the one hinted at above in the “Grammar Alert!” These words from column or group 3 fall distinctly into the noun category. What is the name for this type of noun?
And how are these insults typically used? Some high schools and colleges use exercises with these examples in English class units on Shakespeare to help students read the Bard’s works with greater awareness of the comedy, more fun, and, thus, more positive motivation. I divided one of my classes into two teams for a shouting match once–very funny! (I wonder what our extreme PC college culture has done to this tradition.)
Also, my favorite TV show Outlander demonstrates the use of similar insulting words, sampled here in tripartite order for your experimental three-step dance:
rutting (ep108, ep109)
For an invented example, the melange “You muckle whey-faced coof!” samples one word each in order from ep112 “Lallybroch”/ep114 “The Search,” ep105 “Rent,” and ep107 “The Wedding.”
Of course, our protagonist Claire prefers her own 20th-century insults not fit for general consumption, and then there’s all that Scottish Gaelic stuff. . . . All in good time.
Do you Outlander fans know which character(s) spoke each word in the insult? Quiz next week.
No, really. Next Friday I’ll (1) confirm the character and scene for each word in the above insult, (2) present select lines from Outlander for my phrases, and (3) unveil the answers to today’s 2 word-type questions.
For those who just can’t get enough 18th-century Scottish/English epithets and lewdness, curse your way over to either of these Outlander-related posts on my blog:
By the way, you can vote for your favorite movies, music, TV shows, and players for the People’s Choice Awards 2016 starting this week.
Cheers, you itinerant pretty-minded logophiles!