Some words are enduring. Especially insults. I was reminded of this tonight when my 12-year old son came running upstairs and said, “Look what that spaz did to me!” I was immediately heartened that more than 30 years of degradation of the English language had still failed to vanquish some of the prime invectives of my childhood.
These days, when txt-speak reigns (“wut up? idk. u on fb? ya, rofl”), it warms the cockles of my heart to know that some things are still the same, that one can still deride one’s sister using the same terminology of generations past. A term that is often used betwixt my children in fits of anger is “retard.” Just like the good ol’ days! I believe that “retard” will still be en vogue for my great-grandchildren to use in slandering one another.
High up in the annals of all-time great slights is the never-out-of-style “loser.” I still can recall the echoes of it ringing through the halls of Central Middle School in 1976, yet it still endures today. What a powerful word! What emotion and memories it invokes!
“Sissy,” “wuss,” and “fatso” still receive airplay, but perhaps not with the frequency of a bygone era. I hear “crybaby” used on occasion, and rejoice that it has not gone to the place obsolete offenses go to die. The formidable “dork” remains just as potent as in ages past. “Duh” and “derrrrrr,” while not technically insults, still retain their power of mockery and belittlement. And “dick” still confers the same impression of disgust and contempt that it did in my high school years.
I revel in hearing “idiot,” “moron” – and that dates back to 1930s Bugs Bunny era! – and “douchebag” used to denounce a foe, and fervently hope that I’m doing my part to pass on this important linguistic history to my offspring.
While I lament the passing of such wonderful affronts as “dipstick,” I remain hopeful that some of today’s simpletons will continue to preserve the wonderful parlance of the put-down.