Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Euphemistically Speaking

If you know me even a little bit, it should come as no surprise to you guys that I love language. I love how beautifully imprecise it is. I love how you can take a word and create a new meaning for it. I love how you can play with words and the sounds of words. While Freud opined that puns are the lowest form of wit, I consider them one of the funniest. (And lets be honest, who would you rather be like? Some old cigar-smoking prat with daddy issues or me?) For instance I unleashed this little gem on my friend the other night:

So yesterday the check engine light in my car came on. It really pissed me off. [BEAT]
I thought my car was made in America.

Say it out loud. That’s funny, funny stuff. However my penchant for punning is not actually the purpose of this post. Today I would like to share a euphemism I have been using for some time to see if I can get it a little more exposure.

Faulkner, v.
To expel intestinal gas through the anus; break wind; fart.

Man, dinner last night had me Faulknering all day in the office.
Clear out, I have to Faulkner something fierce.

This usage comes from the title of William Faulkner's fourth novel The Sound and the Fury, which, when you think about it, are the two major components of a fart. There is the sound and then there is the smell, or fury. By using Faulkner in this way, you can then go on to provide a little weather advisory on the level of sound versus the level of fury. For example if you cut loose with a really loud one that had no smell, you could advise people that it was all sound and no fury. Generally this is the usage since if there is no sound and all fury you should really either punch and run or crop dust.

I find it only slightly ironic that in the process of researching this abysmally mature post (I think this comes dangerously close to posting the cat) I learned that the title for The Sound and the Fury came from a Shakespeare line. Specifically from Act V, scene v of Macbeth where the title character states:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard from no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing…

Now tell me, who else can start with flatulence and end with Shakespeare? No one.

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