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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

CNN: What the Frak?

by Ken Newquist / September 2, 2008

Frak has gone mainstream. In the article "The curse word 'Battlestar Galactica' created" looks at the science fiction origins of the word, and how it's been creeping out of fandom, and into non-genre use.

The question raised in the article -- what makes a curse word a curse word -- is a good one. Is it strictly the meaning of the word? Is it the sound? Is it some combination of the two? If frak became widely used as an alternative to its bastard stepfather, would it be as taboo? Is the reason why the FCC doesn't get its panties in a bunch when it's said 30 or so times an episode because most people don't get the slang? Or is it the people who crusade against curse words simply haven't learned about it yet?

I'm inclined to say "all of the above". It's an obscure word whose true meaning is easily understood, but the people who'd need to here it in order to be outraged by don't watch Galactica. Further, to the uninitiated, it sounds like one of the myriad made up words everyone uses to avoid dropping the f-bomb in polite company.

Comments

I still chuckle when I think of the scene when somebody first coins the phrase, "motherfraker." I recall it was Cally, and Tyrol's eyebrows just shot up, like, "what the frak is motherfraker supposed to mean?"

That indicated to me that in the BSG world "frak" isn't the carnal cognate we all take it for, and that Cally just said something really, really strange.

Heh, I missed that one. Sounds like a great line though, and it makes the whole thing even better.

I had an English professor in college who theorized the reason why f**k is so satisfying (and popular) to say is because of the force and sound of the word. The brilliance of frak is that it captures the same sound, but strips it of its conventional meeting.

But can I score it in Scrabble?