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Fuck Patois – Charlotte Simmons and Tom Wolfe

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Recently, I finished reading I Am Charlotte Simmons: A Novela novel by Tom Wolfe. I loved the book and, as always, loved Tom Wolfe’s writing style and way of dissecting his subject matter, which in this case was collegiate life, sex (as always), racism, coolness, and (also, as always) the general maladies of life.

One thing that he kept repeating throughout the book though, was the term “Fuck patois,” in relation to the language that young college-aged folks use nowadays (also “shit patois”).

I wasn’t familiar with the term “patois” and had to look up the definition: “the dialect of the common people of a region, differing in various respects from the standard language of the rest of the country.”

It wasn’t a major part of the theme/plot of the book, but I found his musings on the “fuck patois” and “shit patois” interesting; especially since, for those of you familiar with my own writing, the military and veterans, have their own special usage of “fuck patois” and “shit patois.”

Here are some quick “Fuck Patois” and “Shit Patois” paragraphs that stand out from the text:

Without even realizing what it was, Jojo spoke in this year’s prevailing college creole: Fuck Patois. In Fuck Patois, the word fuck was used as an interjection (“What the fuck” or plain “Fuck,” with or without an exclamation point) expressing unhappy surprise; as a participial adjective (“fucking guy,” “fucking tree,” “fucking elbows,”) expressing disparagement or discontent; as an adverb modifying and intensifying an adjective (“pretty fucking obvious) or a verb (“I’m gonad fucking kick his ass”); as a noun (“That stupid fuck,” “don’t give a fuck”); as a verb meaning Go Away (“Fuck off”), beat-physically, financially, or politically (“really fucked him over”) or beaten (“I’m fucked”), botched (“really fucked that up”), drunk (“You are so fucked up”); as an imperative expressing contempt (“Fuck you,” “Fuck that”). Rarely—the usage had become somewhat archaic—but every now and then it referred to sexual intercourse (“He fucked her on the carpet in front of the TV”).

The rest of the trip fell into a regular pattern. The frat boys and the sorority girls sang songs—they shared gossip—the two bitches were superb at filleting people’s reputations while seeming to be merely adding little details—they turned whatever they could into sexual innuendo—they indulged their predilection for Shit Patois. Charlotte had been aware of Fuck Patois from the day she arrived at Dupont, but it was not until spending hour after hour after hour cooped up in this SUV that she realized how cool it apparently was to use shit in every way possible: to mean possessions (“Where’s your shit?”), lies or misleading explanations (“Are you shitting me?” “We need a shit detector”), drunk (“shit-faced”), trouble (“in deep shit”), ineptitude (“couldn’t play point guard for shit”), care about (“give a shit”), rude, thoughtless, disloyal (“really shitty thing to do”), not kidding (“no shit?”), obnoxiously unpleasant (“he’s a real shit”), mindless conversation (“talking shit,” “shooting the shit”), confusing story (“or some shut shit”) drugs (“you bring the shit?”), to egest (“take a shit”) to fart in such a way that it become partly egestion (“shart”), a trivial matter (“a piece of shit”), unpleasantly surprised (“he about shit a brick”), ignorance (“he don’t know shit”), pompous man (“the big shit,” “that shitcake”), hopeless situation (“up Shit Creek”), disappointment (“oh shit!”), startling (“holy shit!”), unacceptable, inedible (“shit on a shingle”), strategy (“ohthat shit again”), feces, literally (“shit”), slum (“some shithook neighborhood”), meaningless (“that don’t mean shit”), et cetera (“and massages and shit”), very (“mean as shit”), verbal abuse (“gave me shit”), violence (“before the shit came down” or “hit the fan,” “don’t start no shit,” “won’t be no shit”). Still, they didn’t neglect Fuck Patois…

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