Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

LCSH for “Yo mama”

A recent dust-up on AUTOCAT revolved around a librarian tour to Cuba for the “Havana Book Fair.” This “fully escorted” tour involved the opportunity to “get an unprecedented look into issues of freedom of expression directly from Cuban intellectuals, writers, librarians, publishers and curators,” with a rum-and-coke event at a local Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, who, besides keeping files on everyone in the neighborhood, “ensure[s] that detailed electoral information is provided on all candidates, and every vote diligently counted.”*

As you may guess, a number of posters (myself included) criticized the post. Others objected to our criticism, and a small-bore kerfuffle ensued.

It was interjected, with clever use of Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):

“… before this detours into a “Cuba $x Foreign relations $z United States” (and vice-versa) discussion, please remember that Autocat is primarily a discussion group for cataloging, authority work, etc.”

Off-list, I suggested to someone that we could continue the argue entirely in LCSH, suggesting the (invalid) heading:

Cuba, Communist — Propaganda — Aimed at librarians!

Which was met with the (also invalid):

United States — Imperialistic policies — Social aspects

Touché.

That got me thinking, if LCSH is a language (of sorts), how good is it for that most important role of languages—conveying insults?

The answer is—just great! Although LCSH lacks the term “jerk” or “dumbass” (except “Dumbasses (music group)”), it is still a rich field for insult, innuendo and invective. Consider, for example, hurling the following at an opponent:

Donkeys — Genealogy
Dill weed — Specimen

Sometimes the main heading themselves provide good insults, for example, to accuse someone of verbal diarrhea one need only employ:

Anal language — Case studies**

But it’s useful to take full advantage of the free floating form subdivisions. To tell someone they had descended to the depths of idiocy, I suggest

Stupidity — Bathymetric maps

Can anyone come up with the ultimate LCSH put-down?


*The passage goes on to note, that, “Voting booth and ballot integrity” in this one-party state is “entrusted to primary level students on voting days.” What a neat solution!
**Apparently this heading is only supposed to be used on the Anal people, of Southeast Manipur. Pity.

Labels: humor, LCSH

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