Is the sound "cuckoo" insulting somehow??

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abiona

Member
Chine
Hi there,
When I whatch the "growing pains"--- the TV show: I heard Chrisy say sthg. that sounds like cuckoo. Is it a bad language as the family considered it?
 
  • foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    In American English "cuckoo" means a little bit crazy. It's not real derogatory, more a humorous term.

    In BE, the cuckoo was the symbol of marital infidelity-- by "was," I mean back in Medieval and Elizabethan times. Like Cowbirds, Cuckoos lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, and leave the care of their young to other hens, whose instincts cause them to nurture any chicks that hatch in their nests.

    By analogy, a man whose wife "cuckolded" him, meaning she had a child by another man, ended up raising children not his own. If this situation were known around the village or town where he lived, he might get taunted by other men about it. They might make "cuckoo" sounds when he walked by.

    Shakespeare deals with the subject of cuckoos many times:

    The cuckoo then, on every tree,
    Mocks married men; for thus sings he,
    Cuckoo;
    Cuckoo, cuckoo: O, word of fear,
    Unpleasing to a married ear!
    .
     

    GenJen54

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    foxfirebrand said:
    In American English "cuckoo" means a little bit crazy. It's not real derogatory, more a humorous term.
    Don't forget the 1975 Oscar-winner "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," based on the novel by Ken Kesey.

    The film takes place in a psych ward, commonly known as "Cuckoo's Nest."

    I agree with FFB, it's mildly derogatory, but really said in jest for a humorous effect. I don't know if it is as popular in current AE as it was in the 1970s and before.
     

    abiona

    Member
    Chine
    amazing! I happened to read a article in Chinese today about cuckoo , which reveals the despicable behavior of them.
    Yet conventionally, cuckoo is regarded as the harbinger of spring for the sound it makes resembles "planting seed " phonetically in Mandarin.
     
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