The Pope, The Fuses, And The “C”-Word.
Yours truly believes in robust language. If the Bible has “whore” (perhaps not many translations have it; but the classical ones do), then he will not consider himself too fine for the Bible. Evidently, God inspired the use of robust language, when a robust concept has to be expressed. This blog is a permanent testimony of the blog author's opinion in the matter.
Like any other fairly well educated Italian male – to women other rules apply, because of the natural sweetness and gentleness of their sex – I consider language a tool, with which to express all the multicoloured nuances of life and, alas, of the Italian character. But like every other person, I have “mental fuses” preventing me from pronouncing certain words; words the mind generally recoils from even thinking. Still, on very rare occasions, an overflow of adrenaline will cause all fuses to explode; and then – but only then – certain very vulgar words – not words you find in the Bible, like “whore”, or words you intentionally use as mockery and communication tool, like “faggot”; but a world like the Italian “c” word – may get out of my mouth; a behaviour for which, by the way, anger can be an extenuating circumstance, but no excuse.
Now: in Italian there are many popular ways to express the male genitals. A socially avceptable way in a joking all-male (note: all male) context is, say, uccello (bird). Far more vulgar, but still used by people of lesser sophistication, or who are getting rather emotional, is the word pisello (“pea”; but actually rather “cock”).
But then there is another word, off the chart in the vulgarity scale, and never used in conversation among, say, people who had Latin at school or care for proper language. I know no English equivalent for it, as “prick” does not even begin to give the meaning. This very vulgar word is, to use the previous imagery, protected by numerous fuses, and his use will only be occasioned, in better educated people, by barely controllable busts of rage. It needs a truly massive flow of adrenaline to cause an educated Italian layman to say the “c” word. I cannot imagine a priest ever using it; not even a Don Camillo in the midst of a fisticuff party with a bunch of communists.
Imagine the other “c” word existing in English. The four-lettered one. Could you imagine it ever used by a priest, no matter how angry?
Not so, it must sadly be said, for the male working classes; who, having sex permanently in their mind, use that word liberally. But we are talking here of what we in Italy call linguaggio da muratore, “builders' language”, which is a different animal altogether.
The Italian working classes can be compared, in their vulgar language, to many Brits and Americans, who use the “f” word with great liberality. But in general, and among halfway educated people, the Italian “c” word would be consider graver than the English “f” word, simply for the reason that Italian – like German, or French – is socially much better protected from swearing than English.
And here comes the point: in all my years in Italy I have never, never ever, never ever ever heard such a vulgar word come out of anyone's mouth as a slip of the tongue. The obvious system of mental fuses I have explained above takes care that this does not happen. Not to the one who learnt Latin, of course; but believe me: not to the builder, either. Not to the builder, either.
If, therefore, anyone were to utter such a word as a slip of the tongue – something which, let us say it once again, I have never experienced; never, ever – I could not escape the impression that the person having such “slip” of the tongue has such a dirty mind, and uses vulgar language so liberally in his private conversation, that the fuses are just not there; and when this is the case, it is just a matter of time before the filth one has inside comes out.
Think of the four-lettered English “c” word, and reflect on how often you heard it pronounced as a slip of the tongue. It can't be, can it? Too many fuses protecting your mouth. Simple as that.
Now, I can only imagine two situations here:
1. There is in Spanish a word that sounds like the “c” word Francis has employed, but with an innocuous meaning. In this case, it may well be that someone has a momentary confusion, and says the wrong word utterly unintentionally, and innocently. This would explain the extremely natural way in which the Pope has pronounced the word, as if it were a word he uses commonly.
2. Francis speaks like a builder in those rare times out of the reach of a camera or microphone, and has – like the typical working class male – sexual imagery constantly on his head; which translates in constant foul language; which translates in the absence of fuses of any kind; which causes the event in the video above.
If this was the first time this Pope is disquieting, I would try to shrug the incident away as an embarrassing moment, though a very embarrassing one.
As this, though, comes from the Pope who says all the scandalous things Francis says, I wonder whether God is not sending us a message here: gently helping the Pollyannas to understand they just cannot trust the spontaneous statements of the man.
Let me say it once again: this can be a language mishap, due to Spanish being his first tongue. But barring this, boy, this is a mind I would not want to look into