ballocksed [& bollocks]

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Thomas1

Senior Member
polszczyzna warszawska
VLADIMIR:
[...] But there's one thing I'm afraid of.
POZZO:
Help!
ESTRAGON:
What?
VLADIMIR:
That Lucky might get going all of a sudden. Then we'd be ballocksed.
http://samuel-beckett.net/Waiting_for_Godot_Part2.html

I have a question about the usage of this word: is it offensive? If someone uses it, what does it say about the speaker, his social status, education, etc. (for example in the provided context)?


Tom
 
  • Davidvs91

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Yes. It is offensive, though the country it is said in would determine the severity. For example, in the US, most people would not even know what it means. (Only those of us exposed to BBC or Gordon Ramsey :) ) In the UK, I believe it is in the medium range of offensive words. I'm not sure what inference you could draw as to social status from the usage though, perhaps a UK member can shed better light on that part of the question.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    I believe that the "action" takes place, without being specified, as sometime in the first third of the 20th century. So, we'd have to know who might use ballocksed then...

    I think we'd have to go more by the entirety of the play, I'm afraid. After all, while seeming almost like mendicants, the two characters show signs of being very highly educated.
     

    Davidvs91

    Senior Member
    English - American
    I believe that the "action" takes place, without being specified, as sometime in the first third of the 20th century. So, we'd have to know who might use ballocksed then...

    I think we'd have to go more by the entirety of the play, I'm afraid. After all, while seeming almost like mendicants, the two characters show signs of being very highly educated.
    Very good point as to the setting of the play. If I recall correctly, the characters are of low social standing.
     

    lizzeymac

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Hi Thomas1 -
    Are you interested in the use of and implications of 'ballocksed' only within the context of "Waiting for Godot" (dramaturgy), or are you interested in the word as used in everyday speech?
     
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    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think that the speaker's use of the word ballocksed shows that he is not afraid of using a kick in the testicles as a metaphor for a setback (or getting drunk, etc).

    What sort of person uses this sort of metaphor? Well, I suppose, someone who thinks that his audience won't judge him adversely for using that sort of metaphor, or someone who thinks his audience may judge him adversely, but who couldn't care less. I don't think it is possible to allocate such a person to any particular social class (though I suppose the middle classes are those most often associated with a desire for respectability).

    Incidentally, the Oxford English Dictionary suggests that the word is spelt bollocksed, and I don't think I've seen the spelling ballocksed before.
     
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    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I really like Teddy's answer -

    We can't deduce anything about a person's social standing or education by their use of a single word ..

    I'm sure, on the other hand, that you could write an entire chapter in a book about what those two men are supposed to represent in the play.

    Would it be an Irish spelling?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Though I'm not a BE speaker, I think I've most often seen bollocksed by a wide margin.
    This previous thread seems a bit inconclusive on whether it's also used in AmE, perhaps with yet another spelling.

    Would it be an Irish spelling?
    I think it's just an older spelling. It comes from "balls" after all:)

    Not sure if we're being asked here for our own usage.

    But for what it's worth I (educated, classy sort of lady - yeah right) happily use

    (1) the noun "bollocks" as a description and an interjection
    (2) the (related but distinct) verb "to bollock" (= reprimand forcefully).

    But for some reason, I don't think I use the verb "to bollocks (up)" (= to make a mess of something).

    I don't know why. Given (1) and (2) it's plainly not squeamishness.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    This previous thread seems a bit inconclusive on whether it's also used in AmE, perhaps with yet another spelling.

    I think it's just an older spelling. It comes from "balls" after all:)
    Regarding "balls": well, yes and no:
    bollocks, pl. of bollock "testicle," from O.E. beallucas "testicles," from P.Gmc. *ball-, from PIE *bhel- "to inflate, swell."
    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=bollix

    (By the way, I'd never connected "bollix" with "bollocksed.")

    And, based on my experience, "bollocks" and its variations are not common in the speech of most people in the U.S. And many that do know the word, outside of some groups of specific ethnic descent, would think of it as "chiefly British," to quote the dictionary.

    Now, perhaps its meaning of "nonsense" is more common in AE... it just has to compete with many other words, some more visceral or appealing... a losing game for "bollocks" precisely because we don't associate it with its other, coarser meanings.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Ah, as for personal use ..

    I will often say "that's a load of bollocks!" Let's face it, life offers so many contexts in which that is the first response. As an equally Loob-like (educated, classy sort of - yeah right) lady I NEVER use it in a verb form!
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    OED gives all these spelling variants:

    ballicks, ballix, ballocks, ballox, bollicks, bollix, bollocks, bollox, bollux.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Biblio: I'm confused. Do you mean that people in North America say "bollix" but they don't see that as related to "bollocks"?
    Loob, here is my own view. I would say that bollocks, used with any spelling, with any ending, is about as American as:

    blimey
    Yorkshire pudding
    cor
    Righto!

    In other words, these words make no sense to Americans who do not have friends or relatives from the UK or who have not listened to a great deal of BE. (Or a reasonsble amount of it…)

    Most of us have heard BE often enough to be familiar with these words. :)
     

    rainbow84uk

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Bollocks is one of my absolute favourite words! I use it in pretty much every possible sense!

    - As an expletive meaning either "Damn it!" or "Nonsense!":

    "He promised he'd come, he must just have forgotten."
    "Bollocks! You know he never wanted to come."

    - As a verb meaning "to tell someone off":

    "My mum and dad bollocked me for getting home late last night."
    (also "My mum and dad gave me a right bollocking for getting home late..."/"I got absolutely bollocked for getting home late...")

    And in the expression to bollocks something up meaning "to make a mess of something":

    "Oh, look at the state of this painting - I've completely bollocksed it up! I'm going to have to start all over again!"

    Embrace the bollocks! :p
    Lauren x
     

    El escoces

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    I see/hear it often in the first meaning offered by rainbow84uk - as an alternative to nonsense, crap, twaddle - and in the verbal noun "bollocking". To bollock someone sounds unnatural to me, although I am sure it is used. I suspect it is more commonly used in parts of England (maybe all of England) than in Scotland, although in the latter "bollocking" is certainly perfectly common.

    I've also heard "bollocksed it up" (I can hear a Hugh Grant type saying it) and clearly its parallel is "ballsed it up", which is very common. This latter one is not an expression I like or use - probably on the basis that, instinctively, it doesn't feel like a "real" word to me.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    I would say that the following is more or less the same:
    "My mum and dad bollocked me for getting home late last night."
    "My mum and dad gave me hell for getting home late last night."
    "I got absolutely bollocked for getting home late...")
    "I caught absolute hell for getting home late..."
    And in the expression to bollocks something up meaning "to make a mess of something":

    "Oh, look at the state of this painting - I've completely bollocksed it up! I'm going to have to start all over again!"
    Here I would think of something about halfway between "screwed it up" (perfectly acceptable but a bit mild) and "f*** it up", which is too strong. :)

    Just some possible suggestions for translationing from BE to AE!
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Bollocks is one of my absolute favourite words! I use it in pretty much every possible sense!
    sigh ... Despite being yet another of those 'classy educated ladies yeah right' with which WRF is so replete, it's just about my favourite word too.
    I'm not entirely sure I use the verb bollocks up ~ I think I prefer the anatomically-related cock up there (I'll have to wait till the next time I make a gash of a painting and see what comes out of my mouth).
    BUT, I am very fond of the buggery-bollocks which is one of those meaningless 'intensifier' expressions, as in:
    I've read Loob's post a dozen times but I haven't a clue what the buggery-bollocks she's on about!
    Incidentally, though this contains two (ex-)cuss-words in a row, it strikes me as such a jokey expression that it doesn't sound at all vulgar ... to me.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    As for spelling, it depends on the pronuniciation, which in turn depends on many, many things, including context and not least the particular speaker.

    One of my erstwhile colleagues quite definitely said ballix, which I couldn't bear to spell ....licks.
    (The ...all... rhymes with shall.)
    He, incidentally, almost always uses the term as a noun.
    It's a ballix.
    That's a ballix.
    He's a ballix.

    The intensifier of choice is complete.
    He's a complete ballix.
    Further emphasis, if necessary, involves utter.
    He's a complete and utter ballix.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    All those sound as foreign as (erm) Icelandic to me out loud, Panjo, though I imagine the penny would drop fairly quickly.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Reviewing this thread yet again (what a fascinating subject, it makes a change from navel-contemplation) I get the impression that the use of bollocks, or ballix, or whatever, as a noun in the way I used it at #24 may be unusual.

    Or put another way, ewie, is it my pronunciation that sounds foreign or is it the particular usage?
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    It's both, Panjo ~ the very concept of a ballix/bollocks ...
    (In fact, it makes me wonder if maybe your ballix mightn't be a completely different word from everyone else's bollocks:confused::confused:)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I don't think it's a different word.
    The meaning is more or less identical to the use of bollocks as a non-count noun and others use bollocks in this way with less of a ballix sound.
    There's clearly scope for several PhD theses in the study of bollocks across the UK.
     

    rainbow84uk

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    I'm sure volunteers could be found for that.
    Count me in ;) I'm looking for a PhD linguistics project!


    From what I've heard from family in Ireland and read of writers such as Roddy Doyle, calling someone "a bollix" or "a little bollix" seems pretty frequent in Irish English. I don`t think I`ve never heard it used this way in England.
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Thanks, everyone for your contribution. :)
    I really like Teddy's answer -

    We can't deduce anything about a person's social standing or education by their use of a single word ..

    I'm sure, on the other hand, that you could write an entire chapter in a book about what those two men are supposed to represent in the play.

    Would it be an Irish spelling?
    There are certain words, I guess, in each language which are quite suggestive of the people who use them I couldn’t find the word in dictionaries so I thought ballocksed might be one of them (compare for example, the words Joe uses in Great Expectations). Note that I also used etc in my post, one of the implications is that ballocks seems typical to BE rather than AE. Vladimir and Estragon are both tramps so I thought the word could be specific to their social status.

    Hi Thomas1 -
    Are you interested in the use of and implications of 'ballocksed' only within the context of "Waiting for Godot" (dramaturgy), or are you interested in the word as used in everyday speech?
    Well, is it used differently today? Waiting for Godot was written in French in the late 1940's, and then, in the early 50's translated by Beckett himself into English, do you think its implications have changed since then? For instance, it might have been more coarse in reception than it is now? If so I am interested in both.


    As for spelling, it depends on the pronuniciation, which in turn depends on many, many things, including context and not least the particular speaker.[...]
    Could this type of spelling reflect the Irish pronunciation given that Beckett was an Irish?

    Tom
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    hi - my first thought was the spelling suggested an Irish accent, and reading Panj's offerings, with a short a sound seems to bear that out.

    I still think there are not single words which mark out a person's social class, etc ... but even if there are, the laydeez here have atttested that bollocks isn't one of them!
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Waiting for Godot was written in French in the late 1940's, and then, in the early 50's translated by Beckett himself into English, do you think its implications have changed since then? For instance, it might have been more coarse in reception than it is now?
    Yes, I think it would have been seen as coarser then than now. I am certain my mother wouldn't have used the word, for example:eek:
    Could this type of spelling reflect the Irish pronunciation given that Beckett was an Irish?
    Not necessarily. But it could do.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I have a question about the usage of this word: is it offensive? If someone uses it, what does it say about the speaker, his social status, education, etc. (for example in the provided context)?
    I don't think its use says anything about those things. It's the way men speak amongst themselves, regardless of class or education level, I would say. In context it's not offensive at all.

    If you know anything about the play, of course, you will know that the characters are not uneducated, and although they seem to have fallen on hard times, they are, in my opinion, at least middle class. (I studied this at A Level, and hated it!)
     
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