Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The church wants its words back

There's been a big publicity campaign going on here lately sponsored by the Catholic Church. It seems they want their words back. I don't know if this is unique in the world, but all of the "curse" words here in Quebec are actually artifacts from the church.

If we stop for a moment and look at English, all of the curse words seem to center around body parts and functions. By naming someone a specific orifice, you can essentially say that you don't like someone (Asshole! Cunt!) or suggest that someone is a coward (Pussy!). When an unfortunate event occurs, one is likely to shout out a bodily function (Shit!) or the act of coupling (Fuck!)

But here in Quebec, you might hear something like this:

Q#1: Chalice of the Tabernacle!

Q#2: What's wrong?

Q#1: Host, I can't find my wallet, sacrament. Have you seen it?

Q#2: It's right here in plain view! Tabernacle, you're an idiot!

You see, chalice, host, sacrament and especially tabernacle are quite offensive terms when used blasphemously.

So the Catholic church has decided to reappropriate its words and has created a lovely billboard campaign to do so. You can read more about it here.

I think it's amusing because words are just words, even faggot and nigger. And words only have power if you let them. So don't let them!

Still, it's funny to ponder what these billboards might look like in English.

SHIT:
It's only excrement.

ASSHOLE:
Everybody's got one, just don't be one.

or even

CUNT
That could be your mother they're talking about.

Anyway, they have made the town buzz about it the last few weeks because it's highly shocking to see these words on billoards. It's like when I first saw a huge display for Fcuk perfume. I was so shocked, and even a little irritated.

My favorite off color expression in Quebec has got to be "Go (take a) shit!" This is something like "Go to Hell" in English. Apparently shitting is highly unpleasant here. (Could it be the poutine?)

29 comments:

Jason said...

I heard about this. What are the newspaper editorials saying about in La Presse?

Polt said...

poutine...ewww....

But when I first read this I thought you wrote:

"Apparently shitting is highly unpleasant here. (Could it be the Routine?)"

hence, my laughter. the routine...hehehe...

Never heard of poutine until I went to Toronto, and I don't think I'd eat it anyway. Eww...

Anonymous said...

I think it's the poutine.

CLL Canuck said...

Hilarious!

Still, I suppose the church has nothing better to do. Homelessness, poverty, first-nations' alienation, drug abuse and a 70% decline in attendance over the past few decades are sooooo yesterday's issues.

Normlr said...

So what is "Go (take a) shit", en francais?

Spc. Freeman said...

Vas-y a l'apprendre le merde? Non? Oh well, that's what high-school French gets you.

And hey, I like poutine. Wish it would catch on Stateside.

S. said...

I once did a study on the origin of the word "fuck" and it has an interesting history actually (I had too much time on my hands back then I think). Can't remember all the details now though.

madamerouge said...

swear-words make the baby Jesus cry

Perplexio said...

God didn't create swear words, man did. Man also placed an over-inflated worth on certain words and deemed whether or not they were derogatory. It's man, not God, who gave words their power and as you said it's best not to let "negative" words have power.

I find it rather sad that with all the shit that's going down around the world-- starving people in Africa, homeless right on the city streets in US and Canadian cities, etc. etc.-- that the Catholic Church instead of helping people in need deems it necessary to spend their money on an advertising campaign to take the sting out of certain "swear" words. Methinks their priorities are a bit out of whack-- but given the history of the Catholic church, I'm not really surprised

Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

So is a bear a catholic,
and,
does the pope shit in the woods?

Steven said...

I laughed at your definition of cunt.

Personally, I enjoy "son of a bitch." I mean, you're insulting my mother, not me.

Timmy said...

the pope does shit, but not in the woods and it surely doesnt stink.

Adam said...

Hilarious! It could be the poutine looks good to eat but I'm sure its a mess coming out.

GayProf said...

And words only have power if you let them.

I am not sure about this bit -- Words and their meanings were/are created beyond our individual control. Their history outweighs our fragile selves. We can choose how we respond to them, but still they have power that exists beyond the individual.

Given the Church's history, it only makes sense to me that their policies and procedures should become the source of many profane curses. Holy Tabernacle, TornWordo, they have done some evil!

Kalvin said...

Ah, I love words. And I'm forever changed after the CU-Boulder scandal tried to use cunt in a positive light. Why is the catholic church so boring here?

Carrie said...

I LOVE THIS.

Phronk said...

I eat lots of poutine and I still love shitting. Plus I'm not religious. Thus, I am immune to Quebecian insults! HAHAHAHAHA

St. Dickeybird said...

heehee. Made my day, reading this!
:)

Patricia said...

i think it's extremely misguided for the catholic church (of which i am a recovering member) to spend money on such a thing. however, i do believe in the power of words to incite hatred, judgment and apathy. as well as the power to bring about harmony, acceptance and respect.

howard stern creates an atmosphere where it is much easier for me to choose to feel angry, frustrated and overwhelmed. i.e., he gets on my last nerve and makes me want to hurt him. so I don’t listen.

of course it isn’t as simple as if you can’t say something nice… but it’s a start.

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Great post. "Go take a shit" is going into my cool, hip, American vernacular.

Timmy said...

oops, speaking of words. I just had a client on the phone, asked him to hold for a second and thought I put him on hold. I mistakenly put him on speaker phone and then called him a f'ing retard. I think he is on his way to my office to kick my ass.

David said...

I have a recipe for poutine. I haven't tried it yet.

t said...

This is a funny posting!
But when I first started reading, I misunderstood and thought the Catholic church was saying that
asshole, cunt, pussy, fuck, and shit were all Catholic words that have been used blasphemously.
So I'm here thinking "Whaaaat???

Bugsy (aka Joe) said...

I so agree with what you have written. I'm not sure why the church thinks its under attack. I've not heard of a Christian being beaten because they are Christian in the US or Canada. You don't see protestors at Churchs declaring that they are bad people and that some Cosmic power hates them.

Oh! Maybe its because they persecute others and are merely projecting that onto themselves!

(Note I don't believe all Christians are like this!)

Ed said...

Holy spires of a cathedral! I think the church should go Tabernacle itself. How many "Christians" have heeded the word of Jesus the son of God when he commanded them to go and sell all they have and give to the poor? They must first look into their own baptistry before they look into the vestibule of others!

toobusyliving said...

I'm Back - and love that you wrote about this :)

Glenn said...

I love poutine, as curded cheese, gravy, and fries are a perfect combo. Is that bad?

Em said...

I love this post. I loved your dialog with the Quebecois (spelling?) translated into english. I'm considering adopting all of these and throwing out my well worn American swear words.

your judgemental aunt said...

In the maritimes a lot of the cuss words are against the curch.
i.e. Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Lord thunderin Jesus
Jesus Christ pinned to a cross
etc