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Barry Smith: A lewd linguist ready to teach

I think it would be so cool to be bilingual. Not only would it be great to savor the subtleties and nuances of different forms of expression, you would also double your eavesdropping potential.

Learning French is clearly out, since speaking French may be illegal in this country soon, unless those lousy Frogs get off their pretentious asses and start dropping some bombs on the same people we are.

I had Spanish in high school, and my Spanish skills, if I were to really knuckle down and practice, could eventually be raised to the level of rudimentary. Every time I find myself in the midst of Spanish speakers, I bemoan the fact that I have yet to sign up for that Spanish intensive class, for then I could joyously participate in whatever it is people talk about in Spanish.

Recently, though, it dawned on me that I am, in fact, bilingual. I’m fluent in a language that I call Profanese, the Beautiful Language of Profanity.

[NOTE: From this point on, as a courtesy to the non-Profanese-speaking reader, I will be substituting actual Profanese words for their Pidgen Profanese equivalents, “sheet,” “effe,” (pronounced “F”) and “emeffe” (pronounced “MF”).]

[That should be enough parentheses and brackets to hold you for a while.]

I know what you’re thinking: cursing isn’t a language, it’s just vulgar. Well, you’re wrong. It is, I’m here to tell you, a language unto itself, and like any good bilingual person, you have to know which language to use and when. Slipping up will either leave you misunderstood or in a lot of trouble.

Let’s try an example:

If my grandmother asked me if I thought it was a good idea for her to buy a DVD player, I would reply, “I’m afraid I don’t know very much about them.” If I were having the same conversation with a Profanese-speaking friend, I would reply, “What the effe do I look like, Circuit Effin’ City? I don’t know sheet about DVD players. Dude.”

Swapping those two replies would result in mockery from my friend and being cut out of my grandmother’s will. Which would be a shame, because I really want a DVD player.

That was a simple one. Of course my grandmother doesn’t speak Profanese. Sure, I’ve heard her let slip with a “sheet” a few times in the past, but so what? That’s inevitable, like people who don’t actually speak Spanish asking you, “Que paser?”

The trick to Profanese, since its use crosses the bounds of race, color, creed, and sex, is to be able to recognize a fellow speaker. Sometimes it’s pretty obvious.

For instance, the woman who was telling me about how Jesus had changed her life, and was adamant that I allow Him to change mine: clearly not a Profanese speaker. Now, this is not to say that one can’t speak Profanese to her.

In fact, there may be no better way to end such a conversation in a timely manner than to reply, “Jesus, yeah, I guess he was a pretty cool emeffe, but that religion sheet just isn’t for me.” End of discussion, and you go home without a pamphlet. Try that with Latin!

Other times it’s less obvious, so you have to either ask straight out (“Habla effin Profanese?”) or you have to hint around at it (“Hey, how the effe are ya?”). A reply of “I’m totally effin awesome” means you have met a fellow Profaniard; one of “I am well, thank you” means that maybe you haven’t. Of course, they could be one of those people who understands a lot more than they speak.

Still doubt the legitimacy of Profanese as a valid language? Consider how it’s similar to Spanish:

* Most people know a few words of it, even if they don’t understand complex verb tenses or how to form complete sentences.

* It’s taught in schools (well, just not in the classroom).

* There are times when knowing it can come in real handy.

Now that I’m officially bilingual, my next step is obvious. I must share what I know.

Look for my upcoming class at CMC: Profanese as a Second Language. Space will be seriously effin’ limited, so I suggest you sign the effe up early.

[Barry Smith’s column runs in The Aspen Times on Mondays. His e-mail address is barry@Irrelativity.com, and his very own Web page is at http://www.Irrelativity.com]


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