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  1. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #1

    Use of two words

    Hello, everyone,
    I am doing a linguistic research and I need to know the difference between two words, their use in modern English. The words are often marked in dictionaries as offensive, but I do need them for my research in linguistics, so I hope someone will help me with them. They are "son-of-a-whore" and "son-of-a-bitch". Which one is stronger, a worse offense? Queen Elizabeth I, who is famous for use of swear words, in "Elizabeth I" (film) says to her favourite: “Oh, you, son of a whore!” My most important question is: "What if she used the other word (son-of-a-bitch)? Would it be realistic for a viewer to hear it from the Queen? How would it sound - the same or worse? I badly need for my research "a native ear", if you know what I mean. Sorry for the "bad" words, I hope everyone will get my message right.


  2. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Use of two words

    Quote Originally Posted by english-help.okis.ru View Post
    Hello, everyone,
    I am doing a linguistic research and I need to know the difference between two words, their use in modern English. The words are often marked in dictionaries as offensive, but I do need them for my research in linguistics, so I hope someone will help me with them. They are "son-of-a-whore" and "son-of-a-bitch". Which one is stronger, a worse offense? Queen Elizabeth I, who is famous for use of swear words, in "Elizabeth I" (film) says to her favourite: “Oh, you, son of a whore!” My most important question is: "What if she used the other word (son-of-a-bitch)? Would it be realistic for a viewer to hear it from the Queen? How would it sound - the same or worse? I badly need for my research "a native ear", if you know what I mean. Sorry for the "bad" words, I hope everyone will get my message right.

    I think "son-of-a-bitch" is more of an American term and is more of a generalised expletive. I have never heard "son-of-a-whore". I have heard "whore-son" from (mostly older) Londoners, but I don't think it's at all common. I think it quite unlikely that Elisabeth 1st would have used "son-of-a-bitch", though she probably did use "son-of-a-whore" and/or "whore-son". I think it extremely unlikely that Elisabeth the second would use any of them (not in public anyway).

  3. riquecohen's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Use of two words

    Quote Originally Posted by english-help.okis.ru View Post
    Hello, everyone,
    I am doing a linguistic research and I need to know the difference between two words, their use in modern English. The words are often marked in dictionaries as offensive, but I do need them for my research in linguistics, so I hope someone will help me with them. They are "son-of-a-whore" and "son-of-a-bitch". Which one is stronger, a worse offense? Queen Elizabeth I, who is famous for use of swear words, in "Elizabeth I" (film) says to her favourite: “Oh, you, son of a whore!” My most important question is: "What if she used the other word (son-of-a-bitch)? Would it be realistic for a viewer to hear it from the Queen? How would it sound - the same or worse? I badly need for my research "a native ear", if you know what I mean. Sorry for the "bad" words, I hope everyone will get my message right.

    As you probably know, whore is a prostitute, while bitch is a female dog (literally) or an unpleasant, malicious, spiteful woman (informally.) Hence, son of a whore would be the stronger, more offensive term. We hear it far less frequently in AmE than son of a bitch, which, through excessive use, has become rather banal and lost much of its sting. I wouldn´t expect to hear either of these from a Queen. It would be interesting to know whether the term son of a bitch was in use during the late 16th century.

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    #4

    Re: Use of two words

    Plenty of monarchs have been known to swear, though I doubt that you'll hear the current queen use either of these terms.

  4. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Use of two words

    Thanks a lot to all who participated. One more question about English language in general: could it be possible that the ruling british queen's moral and respectable behaviour is affecting film-makers and writers in such a way that the language of earlier queens (as film-makers and writers view it) has become less coarse than it was considered to be, say, before Queen Elizabeth came to the throne? If some of you saw movies about, say, queen Elizabeth I, or read books about her, can you say that she "swore like a man" in those movies or used taboo words or was she quite moral?
    I have read two screenplays and watched 2 films about QEI and so far I have only found one taboo word (whore) in her speech. There is also "pluck": "Have her then, but you are a lordly fool. She has been plucked since I saw her last, and not by you. It takes a woman to know it." Is the word "pluck" very rude? If it is, than my idea about the language of the previous queens being refined in the Britts' perceptions of them because of the decency of the modern queen (QEII) might be false.
    I used italics to mark the most important questions to me, perhaps, someone could answer them, just how they view all this. Sorry for "getting beyond the boundaries" of this forum a little, though I think we are still discussing language.

  5. riquecohen's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Use of two words

    To swear like a trooper is a fairly common AmE expression. I can´t comment on pluck in your context, because I believe it´s strictly British (though its meaning here is obvious.) As regards the language of previous queens, I imagine that Queen Victoria was quite prudish. I have heard, however that the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, had a salty tongue. I´ll leave it to the British to comment further.
    Last edited by riquecohen; 24-Sep-2010 at 14:09. Reason: typo

  6. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Use of two words

    Thank you, riquecohen, your answer is important to me, because I am studying the perceptions of British queens (monarchs) not only by Britts, but by other nations as well.

    Are there any Britts here on the forum? Could you give just a brief comment on my previous post? I would appreciate it.

  7. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Use of two words

    Quote Originally Posted by english-help.okis.ru View Post
    Thanks a lot to all who participated. One more question about English language in general: could it be possible that the ruling british queen's moral and respectable behaviour is affecting film-makers and writers in such a way that the language of earlier queens (as film-makers and writers view it) has become less coarse than it was considered to be, say, before Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne? If some of you saw movies about, say, queen Elizabeth I, or read books about her, can you say that she "swore like a man" in those movies or used taboo words or was she quite moral?
    I have read two screenplays and watched 2 films about QEI and so far I have only found one taboo word (whore) in her speech. There is also "pluck": "Have her then, but you are a lordly fool. She has been plucked since I saw her last, and not by you. It takes a woman to know it." Is the word "pluck" very rude? If it is, than my idea about the language of the previous queens being refined in the Britts' perceptions of them because of the decency of the modern queen (QEII) might be false.
    I used bold type to mark the most important questions to me, perhaps, someone could answer them, just how they view all this. Sorry for "getting beyond the boundaries" of this forum a little, though I think we are still discussing language.
    Sorry for quoting my own post. I just hope some Britts will notice it and give a short comment to the questions in bold.

  8. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Use of two words

    Quote Originally Posted by english-help.okis.ru View Post
    Sorry for quoting my own post. I just hope some Britts will notice it and give a short comment to the questions in bold.
    I am a Brit (one t) and I have given you my take on your original question. As far as "pluck" is concerned, I think it is an allusion to plucking fruit from a tree, if you see a woman's virginity as a fruit (indeed, it has been referred to as a cherry), then I think you can understand the meaning.

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