Posted by ESC on May 20, 2000
In Reply to: "It sucks" posted by Igor on May 19, 2000
: : : The expression "it sucks" has a negative connotation, but my guess is that it is short for a
: : : longer phrase. Any ideas?
: : Well, Igor. It refers to oral copulation. So fill in the blanks regarding the longer phrase.
: Well, ESC, thanks for the reply, but you make my very point: Oral copulation is generally not a bad thing. As for the phrase, "you suck", I can envision the pejorative sense, or suggestion. But, why would use of the phrase, otherwise, suggest something negative?
: My thought was that it might be short for a phrase along the lines of, "It [something] is as bad as sucking a lemon." Yes, any use of the word "sucks" suggests something sexual (in general US usage, anyway), but I was thinking that the longer phrase, whatever it is/might have been, would indicate why "it sucks" is negative. Maybe an early bilge pump that had a defective seal "sucked air" so sailors would have to manually bail a boat that had taken on water. That job? It sucked!
: In any event, this is the kind of parsing of meanings one faces when trying to explain US slang to people for whom English is a second language. (For that matter, why do the sexual phrases that end in "you" mean something negative? And, is there not a word that describes such phrases that seem to mean two different, contradictory things?")
: I am new to this forum. Please excuse me if I have offended anyone with the subject matter of my questions. I have tried to ask them in a tasteful manner.
: Thanks, Igor
Was that last sentence a pun? But seriously. OK. I see what you mean. There is an old expression about someone with a sour face looking like he/she is "sucking on a pickle" or was "weaned on a pickle." The last meaning that babies were usually given something like a "sugar tit" (sugar tied up in a small piece of cloth) to suck on when they were being weaned from a bottle or from the breast. A sour-faced person must have been given a pickle to suck.
I'll do some research. But I'm relatively sure that my first thought will stand. Here in the U.S. attitudes are changing, but fellatio and other homosexual activity is still considered shameful by many. (Yes, I realize this can be a girl/boy activity too.) Thus, school children still taunt each other by saying "you suck." They also label anything considered substandard as "gay." You can imagine how hellish this makes life for young homosexuals.
It is politically incorrect in the U.S. to make fun of people who are dark-skinned or have a different religion. Many are still prejudiced against people who are different, but they at least know to hide their true feelings. And people are starting to understand that people with disabilities should be respected. But it is still "OK" to publically make fun of fat people and homosexuals. And maybe Arabs if there is an oil embargo.