The all-purpose gerund
August 21, 2006 8:59 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to find an exact quote about swearing. It went something like "When a British soldier uses the word 'fucking', it's only to let you know a noun is coming up." The original source might be Ashley Montague or Robert Graves, but print and Google searches have failed me.
posted by rosemere to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Googling like this produces a likely hit, but from a password-protected site.

Anyone know how to get into it? Anyone have access? That's the second time now I've found something useful apparently on JSTOR but not been able to get to the actual page.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:26 PM on August 21, 2006

Montague, The Anatomy of Swearing, p 310.
As Brophy and Partridge wrote in Songs and Slang of the British Soldier, 1914-19118, the word was
so common indeed in its adjectival form that aftar a short time the ear refused to acknowledge it and took in only the noun to which it is attached. Dean Inge recently remarked of bloody as used by working men that it means nothing, it is simply a warning that a noun is coming.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 9:30 PM on August 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

It's apparently a quote from John Brophy:

"Dean Inge recently remarked of bloody as used by working men that it means nothing, it is simply a warning that a noun is coming. So with the soldier's use of this sexual word." [Wherein the sexual word is 'fuck' or some variation thereof. Man, JSTOR presents the pages as picture files so that you can't search for words in the page; I got almost to the end before I found that quote.]
posted by ubersturm at 9:41 PM on August 21, 2006

Damnit MonkeySaltedNuts :) I was just reading through the JSTOR article linked when I found that passage on page 10 or 11.
posted by sbutler at 9:42 PM on August 21, 2006

Arrgh! The "mark as best answer" link is being coy and I can't mark everyone who helped. This is great, thanks!
posted by rosemere at 9:45 PM on August 21, 2006

If you want to get track it down to figuring out who Dean Inge is, you might have to find Brophy and Partridge and in a library near you. World Cat helps here.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:10 PM on August 21, 2006

Thanks, MSN. I'll see if I can get it from York.
posted by rosemere at 10:17 PM on August 21, 2006

the backmatter in Montague lists
W. R. Inge, "We Swear to-day -- and Mean No Harm," The Evening Standard, March 12, 1930.
but there is no assurance that this is the source of the quote in the book published in 1930.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:29 PM on August 21, 2006

Oh yeah. Any chance on finding what Inge actually said? Montague and other sources suggest that he was so prissy that he would discuss swearing without mentioning the words used.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 11:35 PM on August 21, 2006

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