Skip to content

Sweary Currency Translation. “Bollocks to You you old Wanker”

August 22, 2015

collins

The other night we had the opportunity to dine at a place that cnn.com had I think determined was the fifteenth (or possibly sixteenth) best burger joint in the world.

Four familial generations round the table all at once.

If I were to any appreciable degree secure in my masculinity, I wouldn’t have to order the “FIrebird Turbocharged” burger.

So I ordered the “Firebird Turbocharged Burger”.

It a sinus loosening adventure in spice.  And it’s also a recipe for lockjaw.

But to go with it were a variety of local craft beers.  Which brings me to a certain conundrum.  The very best looking available beer on the menu was called “Wanker”. Now I’ve been brung up so as to be very bad at profanity.  I’m appreciative of swearing in others and there’s nothing I love more than a profanity laden movie or stand up.  But it’s not my idiom.   Now the word “wanker” in this North American context was clearly used because it sounds funny and British – and it was being casually advertised by people who had no sense of the relative strength of the word in its original and indigenous context.

The boy was next to me – a boy who would be punished at school for using the word – who looks to me to keep a civil tongue in my heard.

I remember many many years ago being shocked to hear Phil Collins use the word “wanker” while making a guest appearance in Miami Vice.  What was I doing watching an episode of Miami Vice guest-starring Phil Collins?  I can offer no apology.  Even as a deranged teenager incapable of judging anything, I must consider it a severe lapse of intellectual and moral integrity not to have gouged out my own eyes rather than sit through an episode of Miami Vice guest-starring Phil Collins.

Clearly the director of the episode just thought that “wanker” would be a funny thing for the British character to say.  Apparently Collins remonstrated.  I mean, it’s closest US translation would be “jerk-off” but its  relative strength is “Shithead”.  Now you couldn’t have said “Shithead” on Miami Vice – and nor you could have served a beer called “Shithead” in a restaurant.

I have sometimes worried that visitors to Britain and Ireland from the States, having been introduced to turns of phrase that they’ve been lead to believe are “cute” and indigenous will get off the plane and start getting beaten up in grocery stores.  “I’ll have that newspaper and the cough drops and bollocks to you you old wanker”.

I really think what’s needed is a sort of xe-currency exchange website for profanities, so that the constantly fluctuating state of relative culturally inflected profanities can be constantly monitored.  “The asshole fell today against the gobshite” and so on and so forth.  Because even very similar sounding terms have different strengths in practice.  Being an “arsehole” is far worse than being an “asshole”.

I know of an English guy long resident in Ireland who is certainly a wanker.  Recently I heard he was thinking of taking out Irish citizenship.  I can imagine some civic worthy presiding at the completion announcing at the end of the process:  “Congratulations citizen.  You are no longer a wanker.  You are now a gobshite.”

In the meantime, I still stood in need of a beer.  I gesticulated vaguely at the relevant corner of the menu, distracted the boy, and got what I wanted.  I am, after all, whatever else I am, an incurable beer snob.

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: