August 09, 2006

E*****h, German, and a little bit of F****h

The iTunes automatic asterisking program in the U.S. mostly doesn't recognize languages other than English.  But someone seems to have added one French word to the list of banned nasties, with the result that a track from !!! Chk Chik Chick's album "Louden Up Now" is listed as "S**t, Scheisse, M***e".

"Merde" is asterisked everywhere, but as far as I can tell, no other French word is; "pisse" gets by, though English "piss" doesn't, and "cul" gets by too.  (Of course "con" escapes asterisking, since otherwise plenty of innocent song titles in Spanish would get axed.)  Quebec French religious-based curse words, like "sacrament" or "tabernacle", are also untouched, for obvious reasons.  (Thanks to Jean Sebastien Girard for the pointer to sacre.) 

Nobody seems to care about Latin or German (see "Scheisse" above), but Spanish gets some attention: "maricon", "mierda", and "pinga" get by, but "chinga", "puta", and "puto" are asterisked.  This yields a listing for Coal Chamber's tune "Maricon P**o" (iTunes is erratic in its use of accent marks, by the way).  No doubt there is more amusement to be found in the Spanish entries.

Further entertainment: iTunes marks some tracks as EXPLICIT, but inconsistently.  This is clearly not automated, and a fair number of racy lyrics are not flagged.  Wonderfully, the asterisking and the warning signs are not aligned.  In particular, "merde" is always asterisked, but only "S**t, Scheisse, M***e" gets a warning label -- because of "shit", not because of "merde".

Even better: when you search on a word, you get little boxes featuring items related to that word.  Searching on "merde" produces a box for the audiobook version of Stephen Clarke's A Year in the Merde.  The book is decorously identified in the box as A Year in the M***e -- but with an accompanying image of the front cover, the most prominent feature of which is the word MERDE.

zwicky at-sign csli period stanford period edu

Posted by Arnold Zwicky at August 9, 2006 09:24 AM