Ten Words You Never Knew Were Offensive

While the etymology of many words we use today has faded into obscurity, there are some that are more offensive than we can ever imagine. There may be some words you use every day without a thought to their original meanings. Here are ten that it pays to be aware of.

Covered mouth image from Shutterstock

#1 Bugger

noun | bug·ger | \ˈbə-gər, ˈbu̇-gər\ 1. sodomite 2. a worthless person 3. a small or annoying thing eg. "put down my keys and now I can't find the buggers"

As well as being a noun as described above, Australians tend to use this word as a tamer expletive than some of its four-lettered cousins. However, though many people know its secondary meaning as 'a sodomite' or 'sodomy', not many know that the word was originally racially charged as well. Bugger comes from Middle English bougre which was derived from Medieval Latin Bulgarus — a literal translation for 'Bulgarian'. This came by through association with a Bulgarian religious sect called the Bogomils, whose ways were so unorthodox that they were accused of sodomy.

Use instead: Depending on the context in which you're using the word, you might instead call someone a 'nuisance'. If you're use it as an expletive… well, there's really no reason not to enjoy the four-lettered classics.


#2 Uppity

adjective | up·pi·ty | \ˈə-pə-tē\ •putting on or marked by airs of superiority, eg. "uppity technicians" "a small uppity country"

The word uppity is commonly used to put down someone who is seen to be acting above their station — putting on airs and speaking out of turn, generally being a nuisance. While the word can be applied to pretty much anyone these days, its origins were in the United States' racist heyday, during segregation. In this period, Southerners used the term "uppity" to describe black people who didn't know their place in society. The word doesn't sound so casual anymore when you consider that people have likely been lynched at one point in history due to being too "uppity".

Use instead: 'Arrogant' and 'pretentious' are both great words to knock someone down a peg, without those nasty racist overtones.


#3 Gyp

noun | \ˈjip\ •cheat, swindler, eg. "Is that all they give you? What a gyp!" "we were very disappointed when the “free weekend in Las Vegas” offer turned out to be a gyp"

"Gyp" or "gypped" has universally come to mean being cheated or swindled, and though there's no solid evidence for the origin of this slang term, it's highly likely that it is derived from 'gypsy', a derogative term for the Romani people. While many people know little of "gypsies" other than what we see in Disney movies and costume shops, the Romani people have a long history of persecution — including their attempted genocide at the hands of the Nazis during World War II.

Use instead: 'Swindled' is an oldie but a goodie, or if you're feeling ripped off, 'highway robbery' is a fun phrase without the racist undertones.


#4 Paddy wagon

noun | pad·dy wagon | \ˈpa-dē-\ •an enclosed motortruck used by police to carry prisoners, eg. "The cooperative family was being escorted into the paddy wagon"

While the racist meaning of paddy wagon is more overt to anyone who stops to think about it, it's also so ingrained in our lexicon that it's hard to stop and think in the first place. For those who are blissfully unaware, paddy wagon is the slang term for a police car. And where it came from? "Paddy", short for "Patrick", was a pejorative term for any Irishman — a group who have been the butt of many jokes for much of the last century. Whether the term came into use because there were many Irish criminals or because of a large number of Irish policemen, the association is still not the best one to be making. Interestingly enough the similar term 'meat wagon' seems to be used by people misinterpreting this phrase as 'patty wagon'.

Use instead: "Police car" or "police van" should suffice.


#5 Hooligan

noun | hoo·li·gan | \ˈhü-li-gən\ %bull;a usually young man who does noisy and violent things as part of a group or gang, eg. "shouldn't you hooligans be in school instead of threatening old ladies?"

While the term 'hooligan' is fairly dated these days — I can only seem to think of that crotchety old man yelling "you hooligans get off my lawn!" — other forms of the word are still in common usage. 'Hooliganism' in particular is one that the media seems keen to trot out as often as they can. But as in the case of 'paddy wagon' hooligan originally came from some poor sod's surname — Houlihan. The name was used for a rowdy fictional Irish family in a popular drinking song, and soon after the word came to be a catchall for anyone displaying rowdy, violent tendencies.

Use instead: 'Hoodlum' is a word with a longer, non-racist history. 'Hoon' is also a uniquely Australian take on the concept.


#6 Eskimo

noun | Es·ki·mo | \ˈes-kə-ˌmō\ •a member of a group of peoples of northern Canada, Greenland, Alaska, and eastern Siberia

Far from being those cute, fur-wearing, nose-kissing people of the Arctic regions, this is actually an offensive term for the Inuit people. The reason? The word 'Eskimo' comes from the Danish loanword 'ashkimeq,' literally translated to 'eaters of raw meat'. Calling an extensive group of different societies by such a gross generalisation is a great way to limit understanding of the entire culture.

Use instead: The proper term is Inuit, meaning "the people". That's it, unless you know the proper name of each individual nation.


#7 Hip hip hooray!

•an exclamation of congratulations especially in response to a call for 'Three cheers for' the person.

The racist origin of this common celebratory cry is controversial, but it potentially stems from the Hep Hep Riots — anti-Semetic riots conducted throughout Germany in the 19th century. The participants in these demonstrations reportedly cheered "hep hep" as they chased Jews from their homes. "Hep hep" was a traditional German call that shepherds would use while herding their sheep, but was given another meaning entirely in 1819 when it was Jews who were hunted under this rallying cry.

Use instead: 'Hooray' by itself is completely harmless, or the more old-timey 'hoorah'.


#8 No Can Do

informal + humorous •used in speech to say that one cannot do something that he or she has been asked or told to do, eg. “Can you give me a ride to work tomorrow?” “Sorry— no can do. My car is in the shop.”

The game of Chinese Whispers has been renamed in the past few years for its racist connotations, but few know that the common phrase "no can do" is a similar riff on the idea that Chinese people speak broken English. While it has since moved into common parlance, this phrase was originally used as a mimicry of a Chinese person with a heavy accent — and the same is true of 'long time, no see'.

Use instead: Going back to the origin of the phrase "I can't" or "I can't do it" would be your safest option.


#9 Basket case

noun 1. a person who is very nervous, tired, etc., and is not able to think or act normally 2. something (such as a company or a government) that is in very bad condition and close to failure eg. "I was so worried about losing my job that I was a complete basket case."

Oddly enough the term basket case is not commonly used by its dictionary meaning today, and seems to now have connotations of someone being crazy (perhaps being mixed up with terms like head case and mental case). As it was originally used, however, a basket case refers to someone who is useless or not functioning well. The reason for this has its origins in WWI, when a 'basket case' was someone who had lost all four limbs and therefore had to be carried around in a basket. Not the best mental image and potentially offensive to amputees.

Use instead: 'Nervous wreck' or 'bundle of nerves' are nicely evocative terms that don't risk making fun of quadruple amputees.


#10 Hysterical

noun | hys·te·ria | \his-ˈter-ē-ə, -ˈtir-\ 1. a state in which your emotions (such as fear) are so strong that you behave in an uncontrolled way 2. a situation in which many people behave or react in an extreme or uncontrolled way because of fear, anger, etc. eg. "A few of the children began to scream, and soon they were all caught up in the hysteria."

Hysterical's modern usage is problematic enough by itself, with the word most often being applied to women — looking at the first dictionary definition, you might be able to tell why that's an issue. However the connotations behind calling a woman 'hysterical' have far-reaching implications beyond even the 2011 film Hysteria.

The term comes from the Greek 'hysterikos', meaning 'of the womb' or 'suffering in the womb'. The Greeks believed that the uterus was the direct cause of a number of female ailments, based on the premise that the uterus was essentially its own organism. The womb was said to be so obsessed with creating children that it would wander the body, pressing up against other organs and causing medical havoc unless it was pregnant. Yup.

Use instead: Try 'overwrought', 'frenzied' or 'agitated' if you really have to call someone 'hysterical' without resorting to womb-based comparisons.


Comments

    These sayings only offend people who know these meanings and go out of their way to be offended by it. SJW's the lot of them.

      It depends, some people could genuinely take offense to some of these terms, others are so out-dated that it would be hard to find anyone genuinely offended.
      It is good to know the source of some of them, though the article did get the whole Eskimo/Inuit thing wrong.

      Last edited 25/02/16 12:50 pm

      I'm offended by this post!Not sure why yet but there must be a reason somehow.

    You used "Poor sod". That comes from the same species as "bugger". Sod==sodomy==sodomite etc.

    Completely wrong with "Eskimo", that's an old myth. Calling all those people "Inuit" is more insulting. Sure it's great for the people that actually are Inuit, but for the rest it's like calling all Europeans "French" or all Native Americans "Apache". "Eskimo" has been a traditionally accepted term for all the different tribal peoples around the North pole. If you want to call each people by their own names that's great but make sure you find out what they actually call themselves first before you assign them yourself.

      Haha. What a poor sod the author is for trying to highbrow the readers. Note to self: Must get my research right... and make sure I don't use examples of what I'm trying to point out as bad in my writing... Oh dear (hopefully dear isn't one of these words that once meant something oh fensive)...

      But unlike Bulgaria, I doubt anyone in the world still identifies as hailing from Sodom.

      Yeah, the article is definitely wrong on that one:
      What many people do not know is that using the term Inuit as a blanket term for all arctic people in Alaska is offensive. Why? Because there are two main groups of arctic people in Alaska, the Yupik and the Iñupiat. The Yupik peoples are Eskimo but not Inuit. Quite understandably, they don’t like being called Inuit because they aren’t Inuit (and the word doesn’t even exist in Yupik languages). This means that it’s better to call arctic Alaskans Eskimos, not Inuit – or better yet, call them Yupik if they are Yupik, Iñupiat if they are Iñupiat, Cup’ik if they are Cup’ik, and so on.

    Bugger that uppity gyp, and throw the hooligan in the paddy wagon, it’s as cold as an Eskimo Pie in there – let the hysterical basket case out you say? No can do! Hip Hip Hooray!

    By these standards anyone who finds these offensive offends me as i find overly sensitive people who nitpick what they are offended by offensive.

    Dork = whale penis

      In primary school it was common knowledge that dude = camel penis
      So calling somebody a cool dude was calling them a frozen camel's dick.

      GOOD TIMES.

        Yes. I always remembered it as a dried up camel's penis though.

    Absolutely agree @ozoneocean. I visited Barrow in Nth Alaska and spent a day with the local Eskimos. The elder that was showing me around said he was sick of all the PC experts telling him that he was an Inuit and not an Eskimo. He was an Eskimo, actual tribe Iñupiat Eskimo, and proud of it. He used the analogy that Apaches and Comanches are Native Americans but Comanches aren't Apaches and vice-versa. Funny how many people jump all over me when I say I've visited the Eskimos in Alaska.

      Exactly. I came across a guy who thought he was being culturally sensitive by calling all Aboriginal people Coorie... Nice and well meaning but very, very ignorant.

    This isn't the way language works. Just because they used to mean something to someone, it doesn't mean that meaning is indefinitely true or relevant. Common usage defines the dictionary, not the otherway around. The use of these words in common English is innocuous, and therefore they are innocuous.

      Completely agree. Language is ever changing and evolving.

      Agree, I especially think the one regarding Hip Hip Hooray is a bit of a stretch.

    "Meat wagon" is a crude reference to a hearse or coroner's vehicle, or sometimes an ambulance. This seems pretty poorly researched. I could probably guess how a word might have been used in a non-PC manner and write an article too!

      I know 'meat wagon' was originally used for a hearse or an ambulance, stemming from when an actual butcher's meat wagon was also a thing, but you'd be surprised how many people on forums (and in the comments on certain dictionary websites) did mention the 'patty wagon' connection. Thought I'd mention it as a point of interest!

    What about Nitty-gritty?

    What do they call "Chinese Whispers" now? Wikipedia says it's called "telephone" in the USA and supplies several other names, but some of the other names would appear to be just as offensive.

    Some of the examples given here seem a bit of a stretch. Is anybody seriously offended by "paddy wagon"? I'd also regard "bugger" as being (as used here) part of the Australian vernacular that lends it some local colour; it was years after I first heard "bugger" before I found out its literal meaning. The "four-lettered classics" are so bl**dy overused as to be almost boring.

    Something along similar lines is "bastard," which due to its high context sensitivity I've had to explain very carefully to some non-Aussies.

      blady = 'by our lady' (e.g Mary Magdalene). So at it's roots its can be taken as blasphemy more than swearing. But blasphemy has a ridiculously rubbery meaning.

    You could add "Pom" to that list.
    Nobody's really sure of the origins - there are as many theories as commentators it seems. However, if you use a name for a person that that person doesn't use for him/herself, then it's an insult. For example, calling the French "Frogs", or the Germans "Krauts", just add "Poms" for the English to that list.
    But no, the Aussies seem to think it's their god-given right to insult people. The list in the article is a bit too tenuously linked to origins which might give offence to be really anything to worry about (apart from, maybe, Paddy Wagon, which is quite overtly based on the Irish nickname).

      @grumptastic - it sounds like, as per your tag, you're bitter that "Pom" didn't make the list, bitter Aussies use the same term affectionately and insults to other ethnicities as really not that bad because the history is tenuous.

      You're so wrong - it's what a word's history means to a group of people, especially when its intent - then or now - is derogatory.

      I can think of a word that conversely when used by African-American's broadly means friend ... utter by any other ethnic group is deemed offensive. Where does that fit in with your insult definition.

      I'd counter your claim of Aussie god-given rights to insult with one phrase: grass tree. Aussie's sometimes learn from poor choices. I wonder if "Paddy Wagon" didn't have British origins...

        I'm not familiar with grass tree. Can you define it for me?

          The 'grass tree' is the PC name for the plant that used to be known as a 'black boy' (which is apparently properly known as a Xanthorrhoea).

          It's a cute little low bush, with a big long black stalk growing straight up and a tip on the end.
          The idea is that you can imagine it's a spear-warrior hiding in a bush.
          It's incorrect to call it a black-boy though, because spears are most commonly used by orks (who are green). Also, that means that the plural should be 'green-boyz'.

    Offence cannot be given, it must be taken.
    If someone wants to take offence, no action or inaction of yours will prevent them doing so.
    Offensive speech is the most important speech, it indicates honest communication.

      It can very definitely be given; some terms are so value-laden that the intent to give offence is unmistakable. The following terms come to mind (begging forgiveness in advance for those reading this who find the terms offensive):
      - nigger
      - slant (or chink)
      - poofter
      - nazi (and to a lesser extent, fascist)
      - retard

      Given a few minutes thought you could probably come up with others.

      To offend is to attack; to find a term offensive is to feel as if you have been attacked. Sometimes people feed offended when no offence was intended; some terms are so clear in their intention that no sane person would not regard their use as offensive.

      Use of such terms may indicate "honest communication," but so does a bullet to the head.

      There are other terms which are less clear, often because their origin is obscure and the reasons why they are offensive is now obscure. I'd regard most of the terms in the original article as such, but in general I try to follow the rule to not use terms that I know the person with whom I am communicating would find offensive.

      The thing about offensive terms and "honest communication" is that they may be honest, but they prevent clear communication because the person hearing is distracted from your message by emotional content which may be unintended. Of course, it may well be that the emotional content is intended and that you intend to communicate hatred or a lack of respect. In which case, don't be surprised if the listener chooses to ignore what you say - or to respond in kind.

        I've been called three of those terms, and each time was so utterly different to a bullet to the head that I can only imagine you somehow intended to demonstrate that even retard's analogies constitute valid argumentation.

        A person I'm communication with can choose to be offended by literally anything I say or don't say. What's more, they'll often choose to claim offence in the mistaken belief that they can win an argument with the words 'I'm offended'. You're offended? Nobody gives a shit. Where's your argument?

        A person who becomes incapable of thinking when they are offended is a retard nazi poofter, unworthy of my respect or time.

        (A big hallo to any retard nazi poofters, you do you!)

          A bullet to the head if (if intended) as unmistakable an attack as being called a retard nazi poofter - although the nature of the attack is of course entirely different. It's still an attack, still (in a suitable context) intended as an attack, and so still an "offense given" rather than only taken.

          While I'll agree that letting use of such terms sway us is generally not to our advantage, most people out there (except the evolving AIs, [wave]) do get emotional occasionally, especially when treated as subhuman - which is usually the subtext in the most truly offensive terms.

          If you think such terms can't hurt... let's just say I think you're in a definite minority. It's not only sticks and stones that can hurt. And if you've said something deliberately offensive, you've already told your audience that you do not think they deserve your respect - and will therefore quite likely feel no obligation to reciprocate.

          Winning an argument because the other party has decided your opinions are not worth listening to isn't what I would normally regard as actually winning an argument.

          Now I will admit quite readily that under many, perhaps most, circumstances, offence is taken when no offence is intended. It's incumbent on both parties in an argument to recognise that, and the offended will sometimes use such as an excuse. It's a scummy tactic, but no less scummy than being deliberately offensive.

            If you tell the truth and someone is genuinely offended, that's AWESOME!

            NOTHING motivates like anger.

            Ideally the offended person is so angry that they spend the next week doing all the research necessary to refute you. Because if you are telling the truth, their own research will convince them you're right.

            To your claim that calling someone is a retard nazi poofter is giving offence, let's test that:

            You are a retard nazi poofter!

            Are you genuinely offended?
            Of course you're not.
            I can't give offence, you have to take it.

            Last edited 25/02/16 12:22 pm

              I'm not actually retarded (although I give myself reason to wonder sometimes), a member of the Nazi party, nor gay, so your statement is simply false, so of course I'm not offended.

              However, if I were (for example) gay, being called a poofter carries insinuations that are largely absent from being called gay.

              To get back to the bullet analogy, if somebody shoots me, I may choose to take that as an honest statement that they feel that the world is a better place without me and that I shouldn't take it personally. However, it's a pretty clear statement in itself. Deliberate offence (via bullet or insult) is pretty likely to get us angry, and anger is certainly motivational.

              Unfortunately the motivation is pretty unlikely to be productive. If somebody goes out of their way to say things in an offensive manner, my number one assumption is that they've run out of any actual productive arguments and I should henceforth ignore them. They've given up on rational arguments in favour of emotional baiting; my time is almost certainly better spent elsewhere.

              There's even a "law" for a special case of this: Godwin's law, where any argument will eventually wind up with a comparison with Hitler or Nazism - and the person to make the comparison is taken to have lost the argument.

              Essentially it's possible to give offence without it being taken, and it's certainly possible to take offence without it being given. To believe that when being offensive, it is entirely the fault of the listener whether offense is taken, is to entirely ignore the possibility of saying the same things without being offensive. It's a choice.

              In practice I doubt very much that when talking to people whose opinion of you are somehow important that you use offensive terms. Do you call your female coworkers broads, bitches or some of the even less pleasant terms out there? Do you call your non-caucasian friends niggers or "boy"? Do you call your mother c**t?

              If you don't then, sorry to say, you already know that offence can very definitely be given, and under such circumstances you are choosing not to give it. If you do, then... well, I really feel sorry for your mother. And don't have high hopes for your future job prospects, unless you have ambitions for talkback radio.

                So to clarify, in the following sequence of events you want to claim that offence is given?
                1: You call me retard, hoping to offend.
                2: I'm not offended.

                I'm not offended.
                You're not offended.
                No other bastard is offended.
                But offence has been given!
                WTF

                I'm honestly starting to think that rational thought has no place in your world.

                  Under the described circumstances, I was certainly TRYING to offend you. However, you're cherry-picking here. Your claim is that offence CANNOT be given, it MUST be taken. My counter-claim is that it is certainly possible to make statements with a deliberate intention of being hurtful, and that such statements are "giving offence."

                  (In terms of mathematical proof, you have stated a generality which requires only a single counter-example to disprove. My counter-example earlier was the example of insulting one's own mother. You haven't bothered to counter that.)

                  I've stated repeatedly that it's possible for a person to feel offended without any being intended. However, I'm looking at the case where offence IS intended.

                  Let's hit the OED for some definitions.

                  Offend:
                  1. [with object] Cause to feel upset, annoyed, or resentful
                  1.1 Be displeasing or cause problems to
                  2 [no object] Commit an illegal act

                  Clearly we're not looking at definition 2 here. That leaves 1 or 1.1.

                  Using offensive language certainly fits definition 1.1. The person you're addressing may choose to ignore what you're saying (or to use it constructively), but they're almost certainly displeased about it, and you're definitely acting in a displeasing manner.

                  Your argument seems to be based on definition 1: that a person can choose not to be upset, annoyed or resentful. Firstly, people really don't work like that. If somebody says something hurtful, we may choose to ignore it, but that doesn't mean that we're not upset about it.

                  So what comprises "cause" here? A cause is an earlier event that results in a later event; or to put it another way, an earlier event which, had it not occurred, would prelude the later event. A single event may have multiple causes. Here the effect is the person being upset, annoyed or resentful. The cause is the making of deliberately offensive statements, i.e. statements made with the intention of making somebody upset, annoyed or resentful. In fact, the definition doesn't even require that the intention be there. You can offend by saying something hurtful without intending that it be hurtful.

                  If you start calling your mother (or anyone else) deliberately hurtful names she WILL be upset. You will have given offence. If you had not made those statements, she would not be upset - or at least, not AS upset.

                  To deny that such comprises "giving offence"... well, if you don't believe that's what it comprises, I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree. Personally, I acknowledge that it's possible for me to say hurtful things and generally try not to do so.

                  In other words, I try not to give offence.

                "My counter-example earlier was the example of insulting one's own mother."

                What's to refute?
                If she is offended, she's taken offence, if she's not offended, there *is* no offence.
                Your 'proof' fails almost as badly as the drivel about bullets.

                You want proof?

                My proof that offence must be taken, not given, is that there exists no example of offence existing when it wasn't taken. None, nada, zero, zip, nil. Not one example.

                Last edited 26/02/16 4:23 pm

                  The first words of your original response were "Offence cannot be given." Not "Offence cannot be given without it also being taken." (Which implies, by the way, that it CAN be given.)

                  Now you say offence cannot be given without it ALSO being taken. Entirely different claim.

                  If you want to talk about arguing drivel, you've arbitrarily changed your position and then claim that I'm wrong because I'm arguing against your original position. In the meantime your counter-argument has incorporated the idea that offence CAN be given.

                  Perhaps your original argument was mis-stated. In which case, sorry for arguing against what you actually said rather that whatever you THOUGHT you said.

                  Now, with regard to the argument that you've decided to switch to:

                  Per definition 1.1 in the OED you can offend by doing something displeasing; no requirement that it be acknowledged as displeasing. All that is required is a displeasing action. It's akin to the old saw about whether a tree falling in a forest making a sound if nobody hears: If a person does something displeasing, but there is nobody actually displeased, is it still displeasing?" Depends entirely on your definition of displeasing.

                  Personally I think if you piss against a wall and there's nobody around to watch you, you're still being displeasing and you've still done something offensive. However, there's definitely an argument to be made the other way; IMO that's basically a matter of opinion. Something that might be argued by professional semanticists, of which I am not one.

                  Now, I actually agree that there are times when offensive speech is desirable. I just don't think it's always desirable. I suspect that you probably feel more or less the same way; you are demonstrably not constantly, deliberately offensive.

                  I've unequivocably caught you in unrepentant lies.

                  By refusing to apologize, and instead trying to play "I'm rubber you're glue" you've stooped to transparent trolling.

                  I believe I've done enough to convince readers that your argumentation is dishonest beyond recovery, so I'm declaring my part complete.

                "Now you say offence cannot be given without it ALSO being taken."

                Either:
                1: Cite where I claim that.
                or
                2: Apologise for lying.

                  "If she is offended, she's taken offence, if she's not offended, there *is* no offence."

                  I was paraphrasing, of course, but I really can't read that statement any other way. If the offence exists, it didn't magically appear out of mid-air. You have done something which another person found displeasing. You have offended. You have given offence. If she is offended, she has taken offence, but you have also GIVEN offence.

                  Your point seems to be that the offence magically does appear when "taken." My point is that while it is certainly possible for offence to be taken when none was intended, there are definite cases when the creation of the offence is entirely deliberate.

                  If you believe that creating a deliberate offence targeted at another person or group does not comprise "giving offence" then you would appear to be in a different reality to the one where I live, where court justices certainly think it is a possible thing:

                  http://www.hcourt.gov.au/assets/publications/speeches/current-justices/frenchcj/frenchcj18Nov2015.pdf

                  And we'll just have to disagree. I could ask what you would define as giving offence, but as you seem to think that's impossible, I can't see where arguing further is a productive use of my time or yours. We're using different definitions, cannot agree of the definitions to be used, and a debate under such terms is pointless.

                  "I was paraphrasing, of course, but I really can't read that statement any other way."

                  In the remainder of your message you demonstrate that in fact you *do* understand that you can read that statement another way. So that's ANOTHER lie.

                  Constructing an argument out of lies is not valid argumentation, it's pathetic.

                  Following up. I've probably been focusing on the wrong words. They key words here are "give" and "take."

                  Is it possible to take a thing without it being given? Yes; this usually comprises stealing. (Stealing offence is an interesting idea; if valid, it's appallingly common.)
                  Is it possible to give a thing without it being taken? Generally not. This is your example, offence not taken, therefore not given.

                  Now the important one.

                  Is it possible for a thing to be taken, and also given? Obviously.

                  This is the case that you seem to regard as nonexistent where the thing involved is "offence." Offence appears to be, in your view, a thing which when taken, is never given. That if it was taken, it was therefore not given.

                  IMO, arrant nonsense. You may see it otherwise. I haven't yet seen any decent argument from you as to why offence is unique in this fashion. All your arguments seem to focus on the idea that offence, if taken, was therefore not given. That's inconsistent with all other use of the terms involved. Simultaneous giving and taken are the norm, not the exception.

                  If you believe that offence is somehow unique in being an exception to this - that you believe the taking automatically implies NOT giving - please explain exactly how and why.

                  Second followup.

                  I agree, it is pathetic. So please stop doing it.

                  Your reasoning is circular. Please provide some actual reasoning.. Include axioms, definitions, and constructive logic.

                  Your supposed refutations to date contain no reasoned argument, but simple refutations (and occasional implied insults) without argument. Your argument would appear to be "because offence was taken, it cannot have been given." That is your axiom, not your conclusion.

                  That's just pathetic.

    Thanks, Hayley. Interesting idea for an article. And you've shown admirable restraint here in the comments. I enjoyed the article.

      So did I, very interesting and totally agree.

      Thanks for the use insteads, cant wait to belt out "Hoorah" at the next birthday party then look at everyone with evil eyes as they "Hip Hip Hooray".

    Chinese is full of Chengyu (成语), 4 character idioms, that are frequently used to express extra meaning within sentences. They're like a shared set of poems or additional vocabulary. So, 4 character constructions are extremely popular, and 好久不见, literally "Long time no see" fits this pattern, but is a more populist rather than classical construction. Often, native Chinese speakers will move these expressions and sentence structures into adopted languages, including English.

    In this case, I think it's far more likely that "long time no see" is simply a native adoption of a literal translation of a contemporary Chinese greeting; rather than mocking. Not all cross-language pollination originates through, or is driven by negativity and racism.

      May I ask, there's a pattern in materials-science called the 'Chinese Script Pattern'.
      I imagine it would only actually look like Chinese Script if you were high on narcotics.
      Actually, it looks more like Cypriot Mycean.
      It fell out of favor because insensitive.
      But, I'd honestly have been stoked if it had been called Celtic Script Pattern or similar, did the SJWs wreck a perfectly good name, or do you think it was actually upsetting people?

    Sorry you can't replace "Paddy Wagon" with "Police Car" or even "Police Van".

    A Paddy Wagon is specifically a TYPE of police car that has a larger, armoured area at the back with a lockable rear door for transporting particularly disruptive perps. It is NOT the same as a simple police car that pulls you over for speeding.

    Last edited 25/02/16 12:15 am

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