Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Classic, Forever Ruined



As our culture changes and the connotations evolve between generations, certain words cannot be said without some level of odd recognition. The other day, my father-in-law was over and Luke drew out a little book from the copious stacks filling his book cabinet. The book was titled The Owl and the Pussycat and goes like this:

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,'
O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

My father-in-law read it, all the time grimacing with the rest of us and trying to contain his amusement at the somewhat antiquated adjective devices and (im)Proper nouns used.

In other words, it was an odd and funny moment.

I think if I ever have to read it to a class of toddlers, I'll change "Pussy" to "Kitty".

18 comments:

tnmommieof2 said...

That's interesting Josh and so true. I agree with changing it to kitty as well...

bigsip said...

HAHA!

Well, it's sort of one of those words like "queer" which is used throughout The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings.

Today, the connotation is something sexual as it used to simply mean "strange".

Of course, in context, all of the words that have been given sexual or otherwise socially inappropriate/unacceptable connotations are really unextraordinary.

Unfortunately, it's difficult to see past their current-day meanings.

tnmommieof2 said...

How I long for the days when a gay romp in the hay meant just that...
a happy trek in a hayfield...

bigsip said...

I'm sure Matt would love to take you on a romp in the hay...

Makes me think of Teri Garr in Young Frankenstein..."Roll, roll, roll in ze hay!"

mullinz8 said...

Interesting, one of the few places we’ve not done it…

I think I can find a field this weekend Jules, might as well mark it off the list.

It is funny to think of how the usage of words has changed. Sipper if I said you’re a queer fellow and you worked here you would be promoted instantly, obviously they wouldn’t know I meant, as you stated, you were strange.

If I called Brew queer and gay I think there is a good chance he could become network president.

bigsip said...

Well, there you go then, Mullins.

The secret to success at your workplace is to be strange and happy.

Wait a minute. You already meet those standards!

Jamison said...

YEAH! Like, I cant even say "will someone please put this cucumber in my hole!" without every homosexual in the gay bar perking up and looking at me...

(sigh) Times, they are a'changin'....

mullinz8 said...

Jamison, that's hilarious!

tnmommieof2 said...

LOLOLOLOLOL!!!!! ah Jamison...
what a funny man you are...

bigsip said...

...You are! You are!

What a funny man you are...

mullinz8 said...

I don’t know if this is a subject I can really research at work but I wonder where we get our euphuisms from. When did “pussy” go from mean kitty to something I personally enjoy a lot more than cats?

I would guess words for various human waste removal efforts would come from some root language and we’ve simply modified the phrase. Arse which no one is bothered by today is something that our Great great grandparents might have been bothered by. The “S” poopoo word seems to be connected to debris and litter. Considering there are only a few limited uses for the stuff I would guess it’s fitting.

I know someone will get offended if I were to make a list but there are dozens of words to represent someone’s breasts and penis’. Adding to the point I would also guess some of the words are made up to cover the discomfort of discussing the afore mentioned “attribute(s)”.

bigsip said...

I think the term was originally connected as a term to describe women who were like sexy kittens or sexy cats.

A woman might move like a cat or arch her back like one and be seen as sexy.

Perhaps the word comparison followed the initial view of women as something sexual, graceful, and almost animalistic.

See, The Owl and the Pussycat started the degradation of women everywhere...or something like that.

mullinz8 said...

I can see and appreciate the slinky and sexy ways of woman to connect that equation but this there are tons of other words that seem to have been developed out of some comic’s routine rather than some clinical butchering of words.

bigsip said...

Oh, yeah. I agree, man.

When I took Advanced Grammar and Linguistics, we studied the roots, growth, and evolution of our wonderful language. If you go back far enough, there always seems to be an answer to where a word came from. Most words we use, of course, find their roots in Latin and Germanic languages.

Of course, some words have been incorporated from more modern Latin languages such as French, Apanish, and Italian. Some of the more popular and offensive curse words used to day were imports from WWI and WWII. The French and Germans apparently know how to cuss. I've heard the Italians are worse, though.

Jamison said...

The "S" word:
Anglo-Saxon leechdom books use 'scittan' in reference to cattle having diarrhea. A Latin text from 1118 refers to "Lues animalium, quæ Anglice Scitta vocatur, Latine autem fluxus interaneorum dici potest."

There are many examples of the verb from the 14th century [e.g., from 1387: þey wolde ... make hem a pitte ... whan þey wolde schite ...; and whanne þey hadde i-schete þey wolde fille þe pitte agen."]. The noun is attested from the 16th century, both in reference to excrement and to contemptible people.


The "F" word":
The American Heritage Dictionary says its first known occurrence in English literature was in the satirical poem "Flen, Flyss" (c.1500), where it was not only disguised as a Latin word but encrypted — gxddbov — which has been deciphered as fuccant, pseudo-Latin for "they f--k."

Youll find TONS of emails and stuff on the web claiming these two words originated as acronyms... all are untrue.

There, I did the research for you

bigsip said...

Cool, man!

I know the study of fecal matter is called "scatology"

scat-scit-schit, etc.

bigsip said...

"...what a great researcher you are
You are! You are!

What a great researcher you are..."

mullinz8 said...

I would guess for atheistic it’s a small step from Eschatology to Scatology.

Nice work Jamison.