Monday, November 14, 2005

Starcraft Anecdote & Sentence Structure Analysis

I’m not sure about the twisted inner workings of my mind, but it’s possible that this post was partly inspired by Copernicus Now’s post here.

The Story

Much of my freshman year at my undergrad was spent playing the real-time strategy game Starcraft, by Blizzard, the makers of the most addictive games known to man. My friends and I would play over the network (that was before the jerks in IT put “switches” between all the Ethernet ports, effectively preventing all such network gaming). For those who don’t know, in Starcraft you start with a few builder units, and must collect resources and make buildings so that you can build up an army to take on other armies. I think I learned more about that game that year than I learned in all of my classes combined.

We always played cooperatively, usually with three of us against five computer opponents. Of course, there is always the fear that one or more of your allies will “backstab” you. All they need to do is change your status from ally to enemy, and run an offensive. It’s often most effective if you let your target take the brunt of the damage from the common enemy (pretending that you’re having trouble with controls), and just before that enemy is defeated you turn your weapons in your friend’s direction.

One time, just before we were ready to go on the offensive, I received a private message from someone we will call X. X suggested that he and I should backstab C, our other ally. I informed X that I agreed with his diabolical little scheme. Immediately I informed C of the plan, and that’s where the real fun began.
C in fact took much of the damage when we attacked the common enemies, and just before victory, X and I started heading toward C’s base. When we arrived, X’s forces began attacking the base. Thinking I was his ally, X’s forces didn’t last long against mine, and C’s forces easily destroyed X’s base.

Where am I going with this? Well, immediately afterwards, I was in C’s room, along with C’s roommate, and we were laughing pretty hard about the ordeal. X barged in, furious, and pointed at each one of us in turn.

“F*ck you! F*ck you! And F*ck you!”

He then proceeded to lock himself in his room like a little girl. Come on, if he was willing to backstab someone then he can hardly have his feelings hurt when we backstab him instead.

”F*ck You”: An Analysis

That sentence strikes me as odd. “F*ck you.” It has a verb and a direct object. That is, the “f*cking” is to happen to “you.” But what else do we know about the sentence? If we had more verb conjugation in the English language it would probably be clearer.

At first it seems to be an imperative sentence, that is, it’s giving a command. This is usually the case in the English language when the subject of the sentence is implied. (As in “Drink this” as opposed to “I drink this” or “He drinks way too much for his own good.”) But this can’t be, because the object of the sentence would then make no sense. It should be reflexive (I believe that’s the correct term) as in the Spanish masturbarse. If this is the case, it should be “F*ck yourself.” And imperative sentences are always phrased in the second person, so it can’t be directed at anyone else.

It clearly is not an interrogatory sentence (a question), so the only other possibility is a declaratory sentence. The verb “f*ck” would agree with just about any subject, as long as it’s not third-person singular. So, it could mean, “They f*ck you,” “I f*ck you,” “We f*ck you,” or “You f*ck you,” but not “Big Jimmy over here f*ck you.” Of course, these nouns are never implied in English. If you had a houseguest at the bottom of a pit in your basement, you wouldn’t say “Puts the lotion on its skin,” now, would you?

So clearly this sentence is an anachronism in the English language, and follows none of the standard rules. It could be that it’s like the sentence “Damn you,” in which case it’s an imperative sentence directed at God. Because no one else can damn anybody, it may be acceptable to imply the subject. So in this case it would mean that “f*ck” actually means “damn.” But if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t make any sense because just about anybody can f*ck you, rich or poor, gay or straight, Chinese, Kenyan, or even Canadian. Or it could be a more generalized statement, like “I hope you get f*cked,” but in that way it might sound like they’re wishing you well.

At least the sentence isn’t commonly phrased as “F*cks you,” because that would be even more damn confusing.

I wonder if the Language Guy would (perhaps) lower himself to address this question. Perhaps it’s a carry-over from a language where it makes more sense, in view of the heavy influences of German and French on the English language. My background in communications has nothing to do with linguistics (you’d think the two would be more related, since both have close ties to philosophy, sociology, and psychology).

Anyway, I hope that someone f*cks X in a bad way, like Shawshank Redemption style. He was a lying, disgusting, bastard. (And since he’s a bastard anyway, it’s okay to point out his physical shortcomings. So he’s a lying, disgusting, fat bastard.) He got kicked out of school because he never went to class after getting addicted to another Blizzard game, Diablo II, our sophomore year. Maybe I’ll post on that some other time though.


  1. F*uck you.It's the sentences implication more then the structure. Even if some implys they want to f*uck you. It is never explitely said. I think your class mate ment to say it in a violent sense like a 'Shawshank Redemption' style. As, he wanted to do it to you & company. But to acually say it...I want to throw you on the floor & etc. takes all the sting out of it. What is weird is that a curse like f*ck you, one of the worst, has to be thinly veiled by leaving out explanation.
    Acually, what if he would of run in screaming, "I want to rape all of you!" Or, "I want to f*ck you & you & you."
    Then you all would have rolled on the floor laffing.
    F*ck you!! is ment to stun a person into shocked silence.
    A good response to, "F*ck you!" would be laughter, Pointing & Saying, "What! You want to f*ck me?"
    Unless of course it is someone really capable of doing it.

  2. L. guy would not want to tackle such juvenile expletive. Prehaps, the popular one on his blog,
    "You are dead to me."

  3. I don't think the meaning is that he wants to f*ck anybody. Actually, this was meant purely humorously. Several years I looked up said word in the dictionary, and one of the definitions was "damn." So, in Merriam-Webster's opinion, the meaning intended is "Damn you."

  4. oh, i didn't get it. But, It is ment the bad(?) way in alot of situations. 'Webster' says it means damn you, but, maybe now the meaning has taken on a more sinister inflection. (I am struggling to explain what I mean, ARRGH) This is where I run into trouble w/words. My intellect always wants to literalize.
    Personally I feel it makes more sense that way.
    Consider this, Why would someone say f*ck you when they could of said damn you. I think there is psychology at work.
    I bet a lawyer could make a case for f*ck you meaning more then Damn you if the case ever came up.

  5. Well, here's your case in a completely hypothetical world that bears no resemblance to the real world whatsoever, except that it's exactly the same.
    Assume the FCC puts up with people saying "damn" on TV. Assume also that they fine broadcasters who use the word "f*ck." Now, you, as a broadcaster, are fighting a fine imposed by the FCC for using the F-bomb. You argue that they mean the same thing. I, representing the FCC (now that will never happen), argue that not only does it mean the same as "damn," but it also has a more obscene sexual connotation.
    The FCC wins there.

  6. Well, i guess that's it in a nut shell. Case closed

  7. really f*ck you just say the god dam word!!!

  8. If your gona say the f word well just say it and hey bitch! realise something your sort of old for that kind of language.

  9. watta dick head

  10. fuck u nigg@ o lol ur my dad oops um dad i want pizza tonight okay?
    tell me afta school

  11. Wow. You could be a rapper, anonymous. Or a sailor, I guess.