9

Butch: You okay?

Marsellus: Naw man. I'm pretty fuckin' far from okay!

This is dialogue from the movie Pulp Fiction. What kind of the word class is "fuckin'" in the sentence: Participium or adjective? – The official translation of this sentence to my native language would probably be in English "I am pretty fucked," which, in my opinion, very properly and in the mode of black humor refers to the fact of Marsellu's having been raped.

Does the original English sentence have the similar connotation for English speakers?

  • fuckin' here is an adverb. The whole sentence means he is not okay, and nowhere near. – Man_From_India Mar 12 '15 at 15:34
  • 4
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intensifier – Kreiri Mar 12 '15 at 16:09
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    In practice I think very few native speakers would pick up on any "semantic" link between fucking = having sex and the ordeal Marsellus has been through. And I seriously doubt the scriptwriters intended any such wordplay/pun. By the same token, "Are you hurt?" - "Yeah, pretty bloody bad" wouldn't be taken as implying "I'm bleeding!" – FumbleFingers Mar 12 '15 at 17:23
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    In colloquial speech, the word fuck and its derivations (fuckin[g], fucked, fucker, ...) can be inserted almost anywhere in a sentence -- sometimes even inside a word! (e.g. "un-be-fucking-lievable"). If you can delete it from the sentence or substitute a different swearword without rendering the whole ungrammatical, as in this case, then it is only an intensifier -- it does not mean, connote, or refer to sexual intercourse. – zwol Mar 12 '15 at 20:43
  • (Even when "fuck" is used as the main verb and can't be deleted, it often just means "had a negative effect on" and there's no sex anywhere in it. Consider: "I am so fucked" = "I am in serious trouble"; "He's fucking with me" = "He is playing pranks on me"; and even the direct "He fucked me" could mean "He cheated me out of my money" or something like that, as well as "He had sex with me.") – zwol Mar 12 '15 at 20:48
25

"Fuckin'" here is an intensifier, and it modifies "far". The meaning is the same as "very", with the added connotation of expressing contempt for social propriety, since "fuckin'" is vulgar. Since "far" is an adjective, "fuckin'" is an adverb, if it matters. (That's not a "word class", though, that's a part of speech: the role played by the word in a specific sentence.)

Rewording it without slang, it's:

I'm very far from okay.

I wouldn't reword it as "I am pretty fucked," at least if you're trying to understand what "fuckin'" means. The word "fuckin'" in the sentence has nothing to do with Marsellus's having been raped. This sense of "fuckin'" is just a general-purpose intensifier for anything. For example, "That was one fuckin' good cup of coffee." That means that the cup of coffee was very, very good.

  • Thank you. That is exactly what I wanted to know. The translator when using the english equivalent "I am pretty fucked up" showed his ability to elegantly paraphrase the original, even in the ruder and explicit way. – bart-leby Mar 12 '15 at 16:57
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    Actually, I'd recommend rewording it to "I'm very, very far from OK." He's using "pretty" as an understatement. As evidenced by his later comment about "pliers and blowtorch". – WhatRoughBeast Mar 12 '15 at 23:40
  • @WhatRoughBeast Actually, I thought quite seriously about that! I went with one "very", partly to fit the spirit of understatement suggested by "pretty", partly to avoid confusing the main point, and partly to contrast with the "very, very" in the last sentence. :) – Ben Kovitz Mar 12 '15 at 23:48
0

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, a participle is an adjective (not all adjectives are participles though).

participle

a word formed from a verb (e.g., going, gone, being, been) and used as an adjective (e.g., working woman, burned toast) or a noun (e.g., good breeding). In English, participles are also used to make compound verb forms (e.g., is going, has been).

"Fucking" is not a participle in this case, as it is not being used in a context where "fucking" is an adjective form of a verb. "Fucking" is a modifier used as an adverb or adjective for emphasis.

And yes, it does mean something like "I am pretty fucked."

  • Hmm, this might be another case where the grammar terminology from Latin doesn't fit English. It seems to me that "fucking" derives from "fuck" in the same way as any participle, like "bleeding" from "bleed". But English lets you use these "participles" in a special adverbial way, whereas the analogous constructions don't work in the Romance languages. (Or do they?) – Ben Kovitz Mar 12 '15 at 15:43
  • "fucking" (vulgar) can be used as an intensifying adverb just as "damned/bloody" meaning very/really/extremely. It is vulgar language and shows the speaker is angry, but it can also be used positively. The word is worth a study of its own because it can appear in positions that really astonish as in Jesus fucking Christ. – rogermue Mar 12 '15 at 19:38
  • @rogermue Indeed I think "abso-fuckin'-lutely" (to take another example) is a fine piece of evidence against theories of grammar that say it works by strict, syntactic rules and not by the full range of human cleverness. I hadn't even noticed before reading Rex's answer that these intensifiers technically violate the rules for participles. – Ben Kovitz Mar 12 '15 at 23:51
  • Fine example, Ben! Another example "I must have been insane! In-fucking-sane! – rogermue Mar 13 '15 at 3:08
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    @BenKovitz Tmesis - I love t-fuckin'-mesis. Abso-bloody-lutely. ;) – Tetsujin Mar 13 '15 at 9:43
-1

The dialogue in question uses the word as an emphasizing adjective, but understanding infixation is instructive given the back and forth discussion on this page.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expletive_infixation

  • This sounds a lot like a comment or reply to comments, rather than a complete answer on its own. Can you clean it up a bit to make that more plain? – Nathan Tuggy Jan 19 '16 at 5:17
  • fuck is THE ultimate verb that is given permission by its very nature to break ALL the rules. I refer you Monty Python's description of the word. My personal favorite in that video is the using it as virtually every word in a sentence yet still making your point: "Fuck the fucking fuckers!" – user33327 Apr 26 '16 at 8:04

protected by J.R. Apr 26 '16 at 8:57

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