Recently in Jose Antonio Millán's great but sporadic blog El Candidato Melancólico, up came the curious subject of the children's book Go The Fuck To Sleep.
I found Millán's analysis a lovely introduction to that most bizarre of linguistic habits, taboo language. I've taken the liberty of translating an extract here. [Spanish speakers can read the original post here.]
Go The Fuck To Sleep is published in Spain as Duérmete Ya, ¡Joder! (Mondadori) although more literally it would be Duérmete de Una Puta Vez.
This kind of swearing shows two interesting features: Firstly these elements are superfluous, at least to the simple meaning of the sentences. (Of course, they add an expressive and pejorative charge). Secondly, they have lost their literal meaning: We can't say Go the Copulation to Sleep, or Go to Sleep Of A Prostitute Time.
Millán also remarks how the Spanish translation for the Latin American market is Duermete, ¡Carajo! Is carajo less offensive in American Spanish than Iberian Spanish, he wonders. (Carajo is yet another name for the dangling trouser bishop.)
Millán goes on to list a few other translations of the title. Here I've translated his list literally back to English. See if you can identify the languages and reconstruct the original foreign-language titles. Full points wins a chicken curry at my house.
Do this prick of a sleep.
Bollocks, go to sleep.
Damn shit, sleep one.
Sleep and don't shit!
Go to sleep, fuck you.
Cheats will find the answers on Millán's original blog post - link above.
*!&#*!&#*!& #*!&#*!&#*!&#*!&#*! &#*!&#*!&#*!& #*!&#*!&#*!& #*!&#*!&#* !&#*!&#*! &#*!&#*!&#
Dealing with taboo language in class has a multitude of pitfalls:-
Do we allow it in the first place? Is it an inevitable part of communication? Can we teach it? Should we? If so, how? Is it approachable through dogme? Does it depend on whether each individual teacher uses taboo language in their own speech, or is that imposing our own linguistic identity on others? Will we get into trouble from our DoS or parents? Is its use just too complex inguistically or socially? Etc, etc, etc.
What do you think?
I'm going to copulate off now and prepare some lessons.