The Origin of the Word

I was a little taken aback this week to hear an 8 year old refer to being ‘fraped.’

Now, for those who aren’t down with the kids, ‘fraped’ is a term used to describe the act of hacking into someone else’s Facebook account and posting comments as them. The word itself stemmed from the term ‘Facebook raped.’

Let’s think about that for a second. This is a word so common in modern usage that a child with no concept of what rape actually is, is using a word like ‘frape’ with alarming casualness. It made me realise how we take for granted the evolution of words.

Now, ‘frape’ is without doubt a disgusting word that devalues a term like ‘rape’ and its casual usage shows an alarming disregard for the most humiliating invasion that a person can go through. It certainly does not compare with someone posting a stupid comment on your social networking pages.

Part of the issue is that we are so desensitised to certain terms now that they are thrown out casually with no thought for what they actually mean, or where even the most innocent sounding words have their origins.

A term common in the UK for the last few decades, usually seen as a less offensive swear word, is ‘bugger.’ It’s usually used as an exclamation of shock or frustration, or in a phrase such as ‘bugger all’ meaning ‘nothing.’

However, the term itself dates back to the 1500’s and actually means to sodomise. So, next time you hear a child exclaim ‘bugger!’ You’ll know what they are really saying, even if they don’t.

These are only two examples, but it shows how we come to use some words without really thinking about their meaning, or the level of offence they can really cause. I’ll hold my hands up and admit that I’m guilty of having a bit of a potty mouth, and everyone knows and can appreciate how offensive words like ‘fuck’ and ‘cunt’ can be.

One term that really upsets is ‘bastard’ – a term which I have heard my own child be called, and not by children either. While that term, as some people argue, is ‘accurate’ (it’s not actually, see below), it’s also very offensive and degrading and its traditional meaning has no real relevance in modern society. The word comes from ‘bastardus’  which in turn is thought to have come from may have come from the word ‘bastum,’ which means packsaddle, or the French ‘fils de bast’ which means ‘child of the saddle.’ The inference was that the child was likely to have been conceived after a night with a passing traveller. It was more of a slur on the morals of the mother than on the child. But this was back in time when respectable people didn’t have children out of wedlock. For the most part these days, no one really gives a shit.

There are other words that are deliberately misused to cause the maximum offence to the insulted party, and in turn it devalues the real meaning of the word.

Take ‘retard’ for example, from the Latin meaning slow. Mental retardation is a term for people with learning or developmental difficulties which means they reach their developmental milestones at a slower pace than their contemporaries. In it’s true sense it’s not a derogatory word, but the description of a condition, albeit a rather oversimplified description which has in fact been replaced with terms like ‘intellectual disability’ due to the negative associations of the term ‘retardation.’

In modern usage it’s been directly used to suggest that the person being insulted has a learning difficulty or disability that makes them ‘stupid.’ This comparison is offensive to all because it suggests that those with a learning difficulty are ‘stupid’ when they are not. It pains me to see it flung around as an off the cuff insult by people who don’t really understand how utterly offensive a term it is to use.

So, next time you hear you’re kids talking about ‘fraping’ perhaps it’s time you sat them down for a chat.

C

 

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