Sounds like a useful book to have

His first book studying the language in all its earthiness was The Latin Sexual Vocabulary, published in 1982. By looking at the Romans’ attitudes to obscenity, he offered a perspective on them that was relatable and exotic: relatable in that their society, like ours, was pervaded by obscenity; exotic in that many of their uses of obscenity now seem bizarre. For instance, they would shout swear words into thin air to ward off evil spirits. During celebrations of military victories, conquering generals would wear phallic amulets around their necks. In the town of Lavinium, the townspeople were expected to curse for an entire month in reverence of Liber, the god of wine.

The book was exhaustive in its cataloguing of scurrility, devoting a chapter to “Masturbor and its synonyms”. Nevertheless, Adams felt he had avoided “the current mania for discovering obscene double entendres in unlikely places”.

How many synonyms of mastubor could we make use of in describing the P³? Does even Latin have enough?

24 thoughts on “Sounds like a useful book to have”

  1. “curse for an entire month in reverence”

    Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction? If it’s reverent, it may be a word/phrase that’s normally taboo, but it’s not a curse in context.

    It makes me think of French Quebecois swearing, where a lot of the words are religious. Tabarnak!

  2. How many synonyms…?

    As many as are available, no doubt. This is justifiable in that two former spouses could affirm that in the case of this unpreposessing fat accountant, double-entry is twice too many.

  3. For instance, they would shout swear words into thin air to ward off evil spirits

    So the Romans had Ikea furniture too.

  4. “Sounds Like A Useful Book To Have”

    But surely not as useful as this threat from Spud.

    “I am thinking of working on a new book explaining how government funding really works….

    The aim will be to explain everything from what money is, to how it is created, to what it’s relationship with tax is, before then going on to the much harder stuff. That will look at debt, deficits and, of course, quantitative easing. Inflation then comes into the mix, but before that the true nature of government accounting – both the income account and balance sheet – will need to be addressed.”

  5. “French Quebecois swearing, where a lot of the words are religious. ” as were many back in the day. I recall a conversation in an amdram restoration play rehearsal….the line said “Zounds!”. actor pronounced it..rhyming it with sounds! but director corrected it to zOOnds- apparently its a contraction of God’s Wounds. Also in same play another discussion on whether its sluff of despond or slough (Berks) of despond, but can’t remember what it was.

    p.s. Steve. Lol.

  6. “For instance, they would shout swear words into thin air to ward off evil spirits.”

    I think that my little workshop must be pretty free of evil spirits then.

    “So the Romans had Ikea furniture too.”

    This is a recurring theme that I don’t quite get. We have quite a bit of IKEA furniture and I never had any problems putting it together. The instructions are always really clear and you can tell that they have tried really hard to make them idiot proof. Build it yourself stuff is not going to be the best ever quality, but I find it to be well designed and functional which is what I need.

  7. Tim

    I know your day job precludes looking at TRUK until later on but would be interested to see your opinion on the LHTD’s piece on QE today? A rare one where he actually says a couple of sentences (albeit probably not in the sense he intended) which aren’t utter tosh. I’d be interested to hear your take on it.

  8. Additionally he is looking for suggestions on titles for his new book. Any East Germans, North Koreans or others still in the comments section over there may be inspired to suggest something….

  9. Andrew C

    I see Murphys’ facility with the correct use of the Greengrocers’ Apostrophe is, happily, unaffected by the early onset dementia so apparent in the rest of his output.

  10. @V_P

    I helpfully suggested:

    “Blagging Grants and Spouting Shyte – How I made a career out of the gullibility of the Left”

    But he didn’t print my suggestion.

  11. @Steve
    For instance, they would shout swear words into thin air to ward off evil spirits

    So the Romans had Ikea furniture too.

    Or a 60’s model British vehicle. In my youth, I spent an inordinate amount of time under the dashboard of my friend’s Triumph fixing the wiring, because I was the one who understood electricity. The original wiring appeared to be done by a poorly trained, one-eyed simian of disputable parentage. My friend occupied his time dealing with similar construction of the carburetors.

    We had at least double the evil spirit dispersal.

  12. Mohave Greenie

    Surely you know the old, old, jokes about British cars, normally blaming the electrical systems (all made by Lucas); a couple to bring the tears back to your eyes:

    ” Joseph Lucas, Prince of Darkness”

    “Why do Brits drink warm beer?
    Because Lucas makes refrigerators”

  13. Yes, it’s a useful book to have.. 🙂

    Purely anecdotal, but that one is regularly seen in the Roman-era re-enactment scene, especially the bit where they don’t do the usual legionnaire exhibit, but the camp-follower stuff.

    Like a dutch group who do a travelling taverna** and needed their brand new tables to become…presentable..
    ( and yes, the obligatory Life of Brian joke is among the scratched carvings, grafitti, and mug stains.. )
    (** and yes.. with slaves and a slave trader, Ladies ( and a Gent..) of Negotiable Affection, and all the stuff you expect in a rowdy tavern serving an army moving about.. Kids love it.. 😉 )

  14. During her appearance at Canterbury Crown Court in 2016, Verainer claimed she identified as a five-year-old girl named Jorven Seren and got a ticking off from a judge for hugging a large doll as she awaited her fate in the dock. Judge Adele Williams told his defence barrister Paul Hogben at the time: ‘That is totally inappropriate and I make it plain she will not be doing that for the rest of the hearing.’

    “Can he carry on wearing the dress, speaking in a high voice and forcing us to pretend he’s a woman, m’lud?”

    “Yes, yes, of course, all perfectly normal.”

  15. PJF

    Judge Williams presided over my case when I did jury service. She struck me as pretty no nonsense. She didn’t have to tell the lawyers off, she just glared at them.

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