798: Adjectives

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'Fucking ineffable' sounds like someone remembering how to do self-censorship halfway through a phrase.
Title text: 'Fucking ineffable' sounds like someone remembering how to do self-censorship halfway through a phrase.

[edit] Explanation

This comic is a plot graph comparing how often certain adjectives are used alone versus in the phrases "fucking [adjective]" and "[adjective] as shit". Plot data is based on Google search engine result count, or hits. The graph's formula uses the natural logarithm of the hits for the obscene phrase divided by the hits for the adjective alone.

It's a social observation of linguistics pointing out that the use of swear words as intensifiers is more common with everyday words (eg. annoying, pissed, stupid) than it is with more arcane words (eg. piquant, fungible). The last two examples are each used in a sentence that one is not likely to overhear, and in the case of fucking fungible, a way to justify its relatively high occurrence online.

The only word included in the graph that's never found in either obscene phrase is peristeronic. Its definition ("Of or pertaining to pigeons") is included due to its extreme obscurity.

The title text mocks the use of the word fucking in combination with ineffable since the colloquialism effing or F-ing is a way of censoring "the F-word", fuck. The two used together resembles someone partially self-censoring the phrase "fucking unfuckable."

[edit] Transcript

Frequency with which various adjectives are intensified with obscenities (based on Google hits)
[The legend above the plot reads:]
Red marker: "fucking ____"
Blue marker: "____ as shit"
[Mathematical formula for scale next to the legend:]
Scale: ln(hits for intensified phrase/hits for adjective alone)
[The plot itself lists a series of adjectives in approximately descending order. Each has a red and a blue marker corresponding to the scale described.]
[Horizontal axis starts with none, then has a vertical dashed line, then 'rarely' at -17, increasing to 'often' at -5.]
[Each adjective is listed with approximate red and blue values, in that order.]
Annoying -5 -4.5
Pissed -5 -6
Stupid -5 -8
Bored -6 -6
Sexy -5.5 -6.5
Adorable -6.5 -9.5
Disgusting -6.5 -12.5
Calm -7 -10
Delicious -8 -13
Obscene -6 -14
Prosaic -10 -13.5
Bemused -8.5 -14
Apropos -10.5 -16
Ambivalent -12 -17
Improper -12.5 -18
Evanescent -14 -14.5
Piquant -9.5 never
Jejune -9 never
Kafkaesque -10 never
Stochastic -14 never
Fungible -12 never
Peristeronic ("Of or pertaining to pigeons") never never
[There are two small scenes in the bottom right of the plot. The first shows a pair of women holding wine glasses.]
Megan: Yes, the Cabernet is piquant as shit this year.
[The second shows Cueball sitting at a computer desk.]
Cueball: Whoa — these commodities are fucking fungible!
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The continued validity of some of these results is stochastic as shit, but to believe that they won't eventually change is just jejune as shit. (2 down, 4 more to go) -- 06:20, 15 July 2013 (UTC)

You would think that "improper as shit" would actually have more hits than that. 09:30, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

I think a better comparison would be substituting "as fuck" for "as shit." I found more results for "'improper as fuck'" than for "'improper as shit' -xkcd". I added the -xkcd because otherwise many of the results would be xkcd references. -- 00:11, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
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