America has culture, too! (was Re: Profanity versus Professionalism)

Michael Bauser (
29 Aug 1995 00:31:25 -0400

Following-up from <URL:news://sci.anthropology>
In article <>, (Yasha Hartberg) wrote:
> In article <415137$>, JRB8947@UTARLG.UTA.EDU (Joni R
> Beaulieu) wrote:
> > I was told that cursing was simply a weak mind attempting to
> > express itself forcefully.

That sounds like an "always/never" rule. Let's be serious now --
"always/never" rules are very seldom accurate. They're usually
created by weak debaters who think they can end an argument by
stating an absolute, or agreeing to disagree. (I, of course, refuse
to agree to disagree, because I'm a total bastard.) But I digress.

> The Inuit would often settle disputes by holding singing contests in which
> combatants would insult one another, the loser being the first to run out
> of bad things to say about his opponent. And I believe it was either the
> Crow or Sioux whose marital relationships were described by one early
> observer as consisting of "all manner of wonderful epithets." I'm sure
> there are more.

Um, how about the United States of America?

There is a well-known (and researched, although I don't have any
citations off-hand) traditon of insult-contests knows by names such
as "the nines" (I have no idea what that's supposed to mean), "your
mama", and probably some other names. Participants take turn insulting
each other's mothers, displaying creativity, dominance, and all that
other cultural/mental stuff.

This contest is usually documented as an "inner-city"/"african-american"
tradition, but I've seen teenagers doing it in the Taco Bell across the
street from Kent State University. Trust me -- Kent, Ohio may be one of
the "whitest" rural towns on the planet.

Sometimes "culture" is right outside your window.

(Tangent: Actually, I think that U.S. Americans are strongly disinclined
to see themselves as possible study subjects (to the point of fear), which
complicates trying to study them, I'm afraid.)

Followups narrowed to sci.anthropology and sci.psychology .

Michael Bauser <> 42 07 30 N, 83 08 30 W
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