Christ, what a prumphænsn! August 12, 2009 1:25 PM   Subscribe

Hey, has anyone mentioned that MeFi's Own™ languagehat's book, Uglier Than a Monkey's Armpit: Untranslatable Insults, Put-Downs, and Curses from Around the World, was published in the US this July? [review | review | interview | lh's blog ]
posted by not_on_display to MetaFilter-Related at 1:25 PM (95 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

Ordering this now. Will comment later. In the 1970's i had a similar book, The International Insult Dictionary. Insults in five languages. I lost it in a divorce. The only contested item?

If anyone has International Insult Dictionary i would like to buy it.

Robert J. Lanier

Two Dot, Montana
posted by fixedgear at 1:35 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]




^fixedgear: "Ordering this now. Will comment later."

Dammit, Black Bart Roberts, get on the stick!

posted by not_on_display at 1:41 PM on August 12, 2009


Congratulations Mr. Hat, looks like a fun read.
posted by The Straightener at 1:41 PM on August 12, 2009


Hey, cool! I am ordering it now. GO LANGUAGEHAT!
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:43 PM on August 12, 2009


Awesome! On my Wish List! Will order soon!
posted by Shepherd at 1:46 PM on August 12, 2009


Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
The Art of the Compliment: Using Kind Words with Grace and Style (Hardcover)


Yin and Yang and stuff. Also, a dog licked your gob.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:49 PM on August 12, 2009


I've already bought three copies to give to friends. How many copies can you buy? CAN YOU BEAT MY RECORD?!
posted by Kattullus at 1:50 PM on August 12, 2009


CAN YOU BEAT MY RECORD?!

Is that some kind of Icelandic put down or innuendo?
posted by Burhanistan at 1:53 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


No but farðu norður og niður, kúkalabbinn þinn is
posted by Kattullus at 1:55 PM on August 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


I wouldn't read this book if you rented out my eardrums to the Masons.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:02 PM on August 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


I refuse to believe that anyone's name is actually Vanderplunk.
posted by shmegegge at 2:02 PM on August 12, 2009


Incidentally, both parts of that insult weren't used by languagehat, though I'm pretty sure I included them in my list of insults I sent him.
posted by Kattullus at 2:04 PM on August 12, 2009


shmegegge: I refuse to believe that anyone's name is actually Vanderplunk.

Oh if only! His name is actually Vanderplank.
posted by Kattullus at 2:05 PM on August 12, 2009


Does it include an entry for "LanguageFat"? If not, I'm contesting its credibility.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 2:06 PM on August 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


I bought mine at Powell's the weekend of the anniversary meetup. It is terrific!
posted by rtha at 2:10 PM on August 12, 2009


I knew a guy in school named "Vander Plaatz".
posted by DU at 2:16 PM on August 12, 2009


This isn't really the appropriate venue for something like this. Someone should scan the book and post it to Projects.
posted by Eideteker at 2:19 PM on August 12, 2009


Tell the Publisher!
I’d like to read this book on Kindle


Oh God now I have to wait 2 days. Argh.
posted by geoff. at 2:20 PM on August 12, 2009


I do like Prumphaensn though.
posted by edgeways at 2:21 PM on August 12, 2009


From the Product Description:“Tu es um borra-battos.”: You s**t in your own boots. (Portugese)

That's odd. I'm pretty sure thats "borra-botas."
Languagehat?
posted by vacapinta at 2:25 PM on August 12, 2009


And yet my book gets no discussion here. Of course, my book is a series of nude self-portraits made with a difital camera and a bathroom mirror and is only available through a vanity publisher in Virginia called XXX-pressions Press, but still. You'd think somebody might have brought it up.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:31 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Astro Zombie: "And yet my book gets no discussion here."

you think that's bad? the only person to have ever mentioned my self-published book "How Caprica 6 and I Save The Galactica And Totally Do It" is me.
posted by shmegegge at 2:35 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


YES I WOULD LIKE TO READ THIS BOOK ON KINDLE THANK YOU FOR ASKING YES
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:37 PM on August 12, 2009


Oh, thanks to cjorgensen for pointing this out to me.
posted by not_on_display at 2:42 PM on August 12, 2009


You can buy this with I'm Not Hanging Noodles on Your Ears and Other Intriguing Idioms From Around the World for a mere $20! And I didn't make that book title up! At all!

Fun idioms I've heard that no one can explain to me:
- It's like the raisin at the end of the hotdog. (Iceland. Also can't explain why anyone would put a raisin anywhere near a hotdog.)
- She talks from her elbows. (Portugal)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:11 PM on August 12, 2009


Congrats languagehat!
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:27 PM on August 12, 2009


Of course, my book is a series of nude self-portraits made with a difital camera and a bathroom mirror and is only available through a vanity publisher in Virginia called XXX-pressions Press, but still. You'd think somebody might have brought it up.

Dude, you got a FPP!
posted by DU at 3:38 PM on August 12, 2009


- She talks from her elbows. (Portugal)

Would that not be to do with this idiom?
posted by dng at 3:45 PM on August 12, 2009


Uglier Than a Monkey's Armpit

That actually seems to translate pretty well. Unless it's a compliment...?
posted by DU at 3:48 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Note to L-Hat: Way.To.Go.

Note to A-Zom: Those difital cameras can make you look gat.
posted by y2karl at 3:54 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


You all realize, don't you, that the whole time he was writing this book, languagehat was also agitating for spectacular flameouts in the gray. If there isn't a site-wide policy about gaming the community to get material for your research, there ought to be.
posted by felix betachat at 3:56 PM on August 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


MORE LIKE LANGUAGE FAT HEAD AMIRITE


LOL

I wish I wrote a book
posted by scrump at 3:59 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


She talks from her elbows. (Portugal)

We also use that here in Mexico: "Habla hasta por los codos!"

I have no idea where it comes from or why, but it's used to describe a person who talks A LOT. I've used it before, but never really thought about why "elbows" would have anything to do with it.

Around here, (don't know if it's used in the rest of the country), we call a cheap person "codo" (elbow), for example: "Juan es muy codo, nunca quiere salir a cenar." ("Juan is very cheap, he never wants to go out for dinner.")
posted by CrazyLemonade at 4:09 PM on August 12, 2009


I wouldn't read this book if you rented out my eardrums to the Masons.

Now I have to wait for the second edition.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:16 PM on August 12, 2009


I knew a guy in college radio named Nels VanBenthuysen. He tried keeping his real name as a DJ. I'm sure you HAVEN'T heard of him.

Of course, there's also the Starslip webcomic's Curator/StarshipCaptain Memnon Vanderbeam.

And, for several years, I worked for the Environmental Engineering company that had a long-term contract to study the effects of the rocket shoots at Vandenberg Air Force Base on nearby flora and fauna. Good news: minimal effect, which left the Enviro guys working that project lots of time to rename the base in their communications with me: Vandenvander, Vanderwander, Vanzoolander, Vanhalenberg, Overyonderberg, Titaniciceberg, Vandoozenheisenborkborkbork, but never Vanderplank. In retrospect, I'm ashamed of them.
posted by wendell at 4:28 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Congratulations, languagehat! This does look like fun.
posted by jaruwaan at 4:41 PM on August 12, 2009


"Arranged by language, containing pointers on gestures, and appropriately illustrated,..."

Oh, this is definitely going under the Christmas tree this year. LH I think you've written the one book that my non-reader 15-year-old will want to read. But Santa's giving it to me. =)
posted by headnsouth at 4:53 PM on August 12, 2009


Oh and congrats to languagehat!
posted by CrazyLemonade at 4:57 PM on August 12, 2009


Thanks, everyone!

Incidentally, Ben Zimmer put up his interview (which I thought came out quite well) with unrestricted access, even though it would normally be part of the behind-the-paywall section of Visual Thesaurus, so LH fans could read it, so let's everybody say "Thank you, Ben!" Also, tomorrow he'll be posting my introduction to the U.S. edition, which got left out of the first printing by an improbable series of events, so you can all read about my aged mother-in-law's favorite curse. (And no, it isn't "Fiddlesticks!")

> That's odd. I'm pretty sure thats "borra-botas."

Yes it is, and it's correct in the book. I accept no responsibility for PR goofs.
posted by languagehat at 5:35 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


And now that I'm home and have found my copy of the book, I can quote the shoutout:
And although there is frequent repetition of a few old standbys, there are also inventive foulmouths who grace us with unexpected combinations like the one cited by a member of the community weblog MetaFilter known as "loquacious," quoting another online character "dannye": "My favorite was when the image (an old codger with a cane and a felt hat) would pop up and say, 'Only a shitlicking nunfucker would put a goddamn comma there.'"
–from the section on American English, under the entry for "asshat"
posted by rtha at 6:20 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Congrats LH, but also; IT'S ABOUT TIME! I look forward to reading this and using some phrases on my multinational friends. Cheers, man!
posted by snsranch at 6:26 PM on August 12, 2009


I recall LH actually asked me for some guidance on Korean swears for this way back when (it seems like it was a long time ago), and I was deeply ashamed that I couldn't really help. Congrats on the publication, cap'n!

I still haven't learned to swear in Korean.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:41 PM on August 12, 2009


Well done, sounds excellent.
posted by Wolof at 6:41 PM on August 12, 2009


Also, fart-chicken.
posted by Wolof at 6:44 PM on August 12, 2009


Hurrah for LH!
posted by jokeefe at 7:02 PM on August 12, 2009


Yeah languagehat!
Congrats!
posted by bru at 7:03 PM on August 12, 2009


Pff. If I wanted to know this stuff I would simply post an AskMe and wait for him to turn up.
posted by Artw at 7:04 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


With regard to "she talks from her elbows = motormouth", my favorite Japanese expression has the same meaning, but it goes, "kuchi kara saki ni umareta", or. "She was born mouth first." Actually, the subject isn't stated, so it could be she, he, you or even I for that matter.

That one is used from time to time, so it might be in the book (here comes another order), but my favorite insult is, "Tofu no kado ni atama o butsukatte shinde shimae."
Why don't you go hit your head on the corner of a tofu block and drop dead.
I have an older edition of this book somewhere.
posted by planetkyoto at 7:09 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Congrats, LH!

I can't wait to read this book and add to my repertoire of sentence enhancers.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:29 PM on August 12, 2009


Oh, shit. dannye is going to come after me with a butt truncheon and a twelve pack of whoopass.

For the record, as far as I know the "shitlicking nunfucker" was likely a result of an old module in Everything2.com's codebase. There were/are a lot of weird perl widgets embedded in that place. Things like I-ching generators, weird Markov scripts and the like.

One of them was a very creative and foul-mouthed swear generator, probably Markov chain related. It came up with some real gems - and some odd ones like "brit-slapping flannelpisser." I can't remember if I got "popefelching nunshitter" directly from the generator or if it was merely tangentially inspired by it.

Anyway, the "shitlicking nunfucker" swear is likely also either directly generated or inspired by the same generator. If so, however, the rest of the quote is all his. I think it was uttered/typed by dannye in the chatbox on the site at one point when critiquing a recent article post, it got posted to my profile page and collection of notable chatbox quotes.

Thank you Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage and Alan Turing. Thank you Tim Berners Lee, Steve Wozniak, and many more. Welcome to the future, where we use advanced technology and computer science to assist us with coming up with the most offensive strings of words imaginable.
posted by loquacious at 7:49 PM on August 12, 2009 [9 favorites]


I bought the book. It looks awesome.

I started reading Achewood recently. I think languagehat is the Cornelius Bear of Metafilter.
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:12 PM on August 12, 2009


Congrats Languagehat!

Obscure but wonderful linguist of the day: Dwight Bolinger.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:12 PM on August 12, 2009


This will make a valuable addition to my MeFi commenting experience!

And with the Aussie dollar up at US 91c, it's cheaper than a Bondi backpacker.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:29 PM on August 12, 2009


I have always been partial to the simple yet effective and some say affectionate, "Fuck off and die!" I think Nelson Rockefeller did it.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:04 PM on August 12, 2009


–from the section on American English, under the entry for "asshat"

I wasn't completely sold on buying the book for myself, but that sentence just did it.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:14 PM on August 12, 2009


<pet peeve>And it's Portuguese not Portugese!</pet peeve>

YANLH but the "talking from her elbows" phrase supposedly comes from the times of Horace and his Satires where he portrayed those annoying people who talk you to death while grabbing you by the elbow so you can't escape. So maybe it should be "talking through other people's elbows" or something.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 1:36 AM on August 13, 2009


Actually, you may be LH, but IANLH :P
posted by lucia__is__dada at 1:43 AM on August 13, 2009


I think a little bit of gentrification happened there as in Lord Lawks God Gosh
Hablar por los codos del culo.
En hora buena estimado Sr. Sombrero de las Lenguas.
posted by adamvasco at 2:34 AM on August 13, 2009


On two occasions, LH has given free linguistics advice (one time on phonetics so I could make a business card that showed people how to pronounce my unpronounceable name, and one time on on how to spell a name in Russian so I could look stuff up about her in German -- long story) to me, a total internet stranger. I am thrilled to hear of his latest achievement and the book also sounds damn good. Go Language Hat!
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 3:59 AM on August 13, 2009


Well done, LH.
posted by theora55 at 4:16 AM on August 13, 2009


congratulations, languagehat.
posted by krautland at 4:48 AM on August 13, 2009


A fine accomplishment. May onions never grow in your bellybutton.
posted by mediareport at 6:11 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Awesome, LH! I'm ordering it now.

Didn't there used to be a list of books written by mefites? Or did I dream it.
posted by grumblebee at 6:48 AM on August 13, 2009


Congratulations, languagehat.
posted by Hobgoblin at 6:50 AM on August 13, 2009


Congrats LH! Brilliant concept, looks like I have to order a copy.
posted by Megami at 6:54 AM on August 13, 2009


Congratulations!
posted by Miko at 7:06 AM on August 13, 2009


Ben's put the introduction up—enjoy! (Ben had to bleep a couple of words, but I'm sure you sophisticated decoders can figure them out. They're spelled out in the actual intro, of course.)
posted by languagehat at 7:11 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sounds like something I will very much enjoy. Congrats on the release.
posted by quin at 7:40 AM on August 13, 2009


Or put another way*: Yay!

*: I'm trying something new where I use the one word "Yay!" as a positive affirmation. Birthday? Yay! Anniversary? Yay! etc.

Conversely, I'm going to use a slight variant for sad occasions: Lost your job? Prison sentence? Funeral? Boo!

I'm still in the trial phase, so we'll see how this works out. At the very least it's going to make signing all the greeting cards at work a lot faster.

posted by quin at 7:47 AM on August 13, 2009


I just realized that, despite having commented, I haven't yet said congratulations to languagehat. I'm sorry.

Congratultaions, languagehat! You rock!
posted by shmegegge at 8:05 AM on August 13, 2009


Congratulations Languagehat!!
posted by ob at 9:08 AM on August 13, 2009


Langratuhations, Conguagelat!
posted by not_on_display at 10:38 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Vitun hienoa!
posted by slimepuppy at 11:06 AM on August 13, 2009


Congratulations Languagehat! That looks great.
posted by WPW at 1:15 PM on August 13, 2009


I am very relieved
posted by lalochezia at 2:32 PM on August 13, 2009


I literally did not realize women were capable of swearing!
Some might have been put off by the discovery; I was thrilled and liberated.


I am thoroughly unsurprised by this insight into your young mind.

But I'm excited for you. Congrat, Hat!
posted by hippugeek at 5:04 PM on August 13, 2009


That's excellent. Is there such a thing as a book tour anymore? Will you be making appearances? Did Terry Gross book you yet?
posted by msalt at 5:31 PM on August 13, 2009


I vote that prumphaensn be Metafilter's catchall word for stupid people.

Example: Conservatives are such prumphaensns.
posted by kldickson at 8:09 PM on August 13, 2009


lalochezia, eponysterical.
posted by kldickson at 8:10 PM on August 13, 2009


And with the Aussie dollar up at US 91c, it's cheaper than a Bondi backpacker.

*perks up*
WHAT? 91c?
*rubs hands together, crucks knuckles, goes shopping*
posted by goshling at 5:42 AM on August 14, 2009


I'm not talking through my elbow, or my ass, or even my donkey when I say, "Congratulations!" It looks whizz bang and too fizzy for words. I am just crestfallen that I was not consulted in regards to insults; I am sure that I could cough up a hairball or two.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:17 AM on August 14, 2009


> Is there such a thing as a book tour anymore? Will you be making appearances? Did Terry Gross book you yet?

There is, but I'm not doing one. The publicist tried to set up some Boston appearances (hey, I'm in Massachusetts, Boston is in Massachusetts, it's a natural!), but I told her it wasn't worth a two-hour drive into the worst traffic in the Northeast. I said I'd be delighted to show up at bookstores in the Amherst-Northampton area, but apparently they don't do many author appearances during the summer. As for Terry Gross, I'm hanging by the phone! Call me, Terry! My people and your people will work something out! Can I say prumphænsn on the air?
posted by languagehat at 7:18 AM on August 14, 2009


Just heard from Ben: he had to change the intro back to "premium" content (available only to Visual Thesaurus subscribers) after a complaint from an elementary school. (I'm presuming it wasn't the students who complained.) Anyway, he gave me an alternate link I can share with people, so here it is: Introduction.
posted by languagehat at 11:16 AM on August 14, 2009


That's fantastic, and the book sounds fun! Congrats, LH!

Is there a separate section for Southern U.S. English where the book lists expressions like my favorite "biscuit-eating son of a whore-hopping bastard"?
posted by notashroom at 11:45 AM on August 14, 2009


*perks up*
WHAT? 91c?
*rubs hands together, crucks knuckles, goes shopping*


wait, no, it's more like 83c - still not bad, though.

91c must've been the price to buy one AUD at the airport exchange booth - that's some commission!
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:48 PM on August 14, 2009


tl;dr
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:47 PM on August 14, 2009


It is no surprise to me that noted advocated of laxity in such matters languagehat uses the "try and" locution instead of the "try to" my mother attempted to drill into me.
posted by kenko at 8:20 PM on August 14, 2009


When I worked at an aluminum foundry long ago, most of my coworkers were from Mexico and other Latin American countries and were of questionable legal status. Some of them were pretty rough guys, although deep down, they all had hearts of gold.

We had a new white guy join the crew. He was a cocky young punk. He made it clear that he didn't like the Latinos. He was the kind of self-centered bigot who assumed that when other people were talking to each other in Spanish, they were saying bad things about him. Sometimes he was right.

One night, he was complaining about how the "spics" weren't treating him with the proper respect (what an ignorant fuck). I told him that he just needed to break the ice and gave him some simple tips.

Later on, he walked up a big, mean Guatemalan, grabbed the hand that wasn't holding a 2 foot pipe wrench, smiled, looked him square in the eyes and said the magic words: Chinga tu madre!
posted by double block and bleed at 10:17 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


And did anything happen?
posted by Kattullus at 10:43 PM on August 14, 2009


That is so cool. Congratulations, languagehat.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:17 AM on August 15, 2009


The Guatemalan laughed and then showed his appreciation with a playful tap to the ribcage with the wrench. I don't think he broke anything, but it sure looked like it hurt like hell.

That place was hot, dangerous and dirty but I kinda miss working there sometimes.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:12 AM on August 15, 2009


Thanks for the post...ordering my copy now.
Congrats on the book languagehat!
posted by Dr. Zira at 1:19 PM on August 15, 2009


Hm, I ordered a copy on Amazon.de, and after getting the "your order was sent out" confirmation for some other books another curt notice arrived, informing me that
Der folgende Titel ist leider nicht lieferbar:

Stephen Dodson, Robert Vanderplank "Uglier Than a Monkey's Armpit: Untranslatable Insults, Put-Downs, and Curses from Around the World"

Dieser Artikel musste aus Ihrer Bestellung gestrichen werden.
("The following title is unfortunately not available [...] The article had to be removed from your order.") Is anyone else experiencing similar problems? Is the first print run already sold out? Are zere German insults in it vhich are NOT FUNNY and have to be kept from ze general public?
posted by PontifexPrimus at 9:15 AM on August 20, 2009


Conratulations Mr. Hat. Well done. Wish-listed and on ramp for the next book order.
posted by Skygazer at 9:59 AM on August 23, 2009


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