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Old 06-16-2017, 12:24 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Default Question for Brits

Tell me what first comes to mind when you read the words "old sod."

Do you think "old sod" as in "old turf," "one's native land"

or do you think "old sod" as in "an old sodomite" ("that old sod is never gonna change his ways")

?

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 06-16-2017 at 01:40 PM.
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Old 06-16-2017, 12:49 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Without context, definitely the latter, since it's a common usage. I can't remember the last time I heard someone use the word "sod" to mean "turf".
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Old 06-16-2017, 12:51 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

Definitely the latter. Although the connotations of 'sodomy' are barely there. Oddly enough, 'silly sod' and 'daft bugger' are very mild profanities much beloved of old ladies. My gran would use them, but never a 'fuck' would pass her lips.
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Old 06-16-2017, 01:28 PM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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There's an overtone of affection to the phrase.
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Old 06-16-2017, 01:33 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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An American equivalent might be "old coot".
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Old 06-16-2017, 03:00 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Got it. Thank you, everyone.

Mark, I taught an obscene Ancient Greek poem in a British translation, and my very American students were astounded to learn that "bugger" means "butt-fuck" in UK English. Here's another question--is "buggery" exclusively male on male? Can a male "bugger" a female or would that be an unidiomatic thing to say? I ask not just out of perverse curiosity but because of a translation issue.

Ann, I have become very interested in what I call "affectionate insults" (they are always dependent on context). I will add "sod" to the list.

Thank you, Matt and John, for giving your reaction and explaining.

It seems clear to me now that, on hearing the sentence "she went back to the old sod," the British mind would assume the "sod" is a person and not a place.

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 06-16-2017 at 03:10 PM.
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Old 06-16-2017, 04:26 PM
Jerome Betts Jerome Betts is offline
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Get the impression sod in the turf sense was (is?) much more used in America than here from the mid-19th century on. I agree that without a context to the contrary 'she went back to the old sod' would be taken by most BE speakers to mean a man. However, The 12 vol edition of the OED gives
b. the (old) sod, one's native district or country; spec., Ireland.
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Old 06-16-2017, 05:35 PM
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John Whitworth John Whitworth is offline
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Oscar Wilde was a sodomite, if you remember. That may well be relevant. Would 'the boy was underneath the sod' be ambiguous? Or a joke?

A male can certainly bugger a female. The gamekeeper Mellors does. Page 217 if I remember in the original Penguin text.
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Old 06-16-2017, 06:08 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Thank you, Jerome, for confirming my conclusion. I am jealous that you have the 12 volume OED handy.

John, John, this thread is glad to hear from you. Yes, Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas were indeed sodomites. Didn't Eliot write a poem about the latter called "The Love Song of Lord Alfred Douglas"?

"The boy is underneath the sod" is, I'm afraid, sort of funny, yes.

Also, you are busted (that's American for "caught")--you have read D.H. Lawrence. No doubt he was a major influence on your early style.
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Old 06-16-2017, 08:05 PM
E. Shaun Russell E. Shaun Russell is offline
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Aqualung, my friend,
don't you start away uneasy
you poor old sod
you see it's only me...
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