December 09, 2006

Linguistic cartoon update update

Seems like lots of funnies are addressing the taboo-language question these days. Out of the Gene Pool has a character trying to coin a new swear word:

What the poor critterblob doesn't know is that even if it took off, it'd never be offensive; to really be a taboo word, a lexeme has to start off associated with some highly charged subject matter, for example, orifices, religion, or race (your mileage may vary depending on your cultural context).

Candorville and Herb 'n Jamaal have recently drawn about the n-word, stimulated by Michael Richards' public deployment of it (three weeks ago being today in cartoon-time, with the publishing lag):

This Candorville (there's been a series) highights the complicated question of in-group vs. out-group uses of slurs, previously discussed on the Log; see, e.g. the second-to-last para of az's post here.

Update: Toon-savvy reader ststones writes:

I have a much earlier example from a "Tom the Dancing Bug" anthology published in 1992. Max is a precocious diapered baby and Doug is a "generic cartoon animal". They are playing some kind of board game.

Doug: There! I advance to blue ... and I win again!
Max: Oh, you ... you ... DOIK!
Max: Oh my God! ... Doug! I'm so sorry!
Doug: What! What's a doik?
Max: Nothing! I just made the word up! I was mad!
Doug: But what does it MEAN?
Max:If you must know I made it up as a horrible epithet!
Doug: Oh!
Max: I'm so ashamed! I intended it as a slur that carries with it every
horrible prejudice anyone harbors against you and your kind!
Doug: My kind?
Max: Yeah, that's what I was THINKING when I said it, but it's not a real word
... just a random syllable I spat out!
Max: Anyway, Doug, I'm sorry.
Doug: That's okay, Max. It's not like it was a real word!
(Reaction panel. Then Doug walking toward a worm hole.)
Doug: So why does it make me feel so darn UNCOMFORTABLE?
Worm: Watch your step, you fat DOIK!

"Doik" reappears in several subsequent strips

Posted by Heidi Harley at December 9, 2006 05:26 PM