American vernacular explodes ecstatically, euphorically such that it becomes positively contagious—seeping into our speech patterns, our lives. The use of sexual terms augments our tendency and predisposition for this vernacular, but it too can be found in other languages. Ben Johnson himself said: “Language best shows a man; speak that I may see thee,” and methods of speech, the evolution of our language, and more specifically our slang/jargon, displays the identity of our characters, our cultures.
In English we talk about “coming” to describe an orgasm—if we are going to take advantage of our language, go all out, splurge, as it were. Come again? It’s just habit, mere inveterate inclination, by now for us to give fair warning (if kind enough) that “I’m going to come.” We’re already there—that is, we have physically arrived at a placed and charmed or paid (whatever the case may be) to lie in a bed with a partner. In the comfort of our beds, or our roommate’s bed, or in the chapel, or in the basement of East Pyne, we have come.
And who can forget bawdy bodied Shakespeare with his countless use of “come”? Luckily he only puts words, nothing else, in his characters’ mouths, and as Claudius says to Gertrude, “Come… come away.” Or in the a sonnet he sexually alludes to the deal that “within his bending sickles compass come.”
But in Spanish, the word “correr” (literally “to run”) describes the orgasmic release. I’ve heard about quickness; remember, gentleman, it never is a race. Yet in the Spanish culture, there seems to be a romantic hurry, or perhaps an athletic finish. There is less emphasis on some sort of spiritual journey of “coming,” but rather more concentration on the act of getting through. Or at least that seems to be the thrust of it.
French’s colloquial description of the orgasm seems most disturbing in its suggestion that each orgasm takes a little bit of life out of people. “La petite mort,” or “the little death” (as they call the orgasm stems) from a previous belief that each orgasm removed the life force from people—rather than reinvigorating their energy. This also could suggest a temporary death to pleasure. Apropos and disturbingly connected to this so-called “little death,” most men become erect at the actual time of their demise; this makes this issue hard, quite hard, to discuss.
In colloquially describing the orgasm, Russian emphasizes the finality of coming. The infinitive “kahnchat,” which means “to end,” elicits giggles from schoolchildren, smiles of pleasure and longing from teenagers, and reflective remembrance from married couples. Indeed, in English we use “to finish” sexually, but it’s still hard to imagine the Tsar Nicholas II calling out to his wife with all the Romanov strength in his family that he is about “to end” as crazy Grigory Yefimovitch Rasputin’s eyes watch on from behind a long, draping window curtain?
Can we imagine some Russian woman, some consummate female named Olga from the Volga (an intensely sexual version of Don Quixote’s Dulcinea del Toboso), with sharp cheek bones, and luscious vermillion lips, drinking vodka in St. Petersburg—all the while screaming repeatedly “cha-choo Kahnchat” (“I want to end”).
We may speak of etymology and origins trying to discern, but etymology, not entomology, seems to bug me.
French and Spanish stand as Romance languages, and Russian—with its Slavic, Indo-European bent—also can be viewed within the context of Latin. Russian actually stands most closely to Latin in its use of the colloquial form of orgasm as “in finis” or describes the orgasm to. But Latin’s infinitive “festinare” (to hurry) seems to call to mind the racing nature of Spanish’s verb “correr.” “Festinare” more specifically describes the act of approaching orgasm—a time of increased mental, emotional, and physical speed—which brings sense to the rushing, speeding aspect of the word.
Continuing through ancient times, we encounter the Greeks and their use of “mixing” (migumi) to describe the sexual act and more specifically the combination of sexual fluids. This seems to be an apt linguistic lubricant for a thorough understanding of the concentration on the act of confluence in Greek sex.
Languages seem to accommodate the needs for words—especially those essential categories of love and lust. Greek, for example, has three well-known words for love. “Eros,” from which erotic derives, celebrates the erotic, corporeal love, the physical need for combination of bodies about which Sappho wrote. “Philostes” describes the love of friendship, though it can be euphemistic for erotic love, as when Paris uses this term to go to bed with Helen. “Agape,” the third form of love, suggests the love for God—an entirely ethereal sense.
If language shows most a man and by extension a culture, we must discover a language with no obvious word for orgasm at all.
Hawaii itself stands as a place of pure, château-bottled paradise, yet it seems that the limits of its language inhibit any word for orgasm. Only the word “moe,” suggesting the act of making love, exists. There is no actual word for orgasm. It seems the culture of the archipelago lends itself most easily to an interest in Macadamia nuts. I am loath to suggest that Hawaiians find or invent a word for orgasm, because there exists enough paradise in that exploding volcanic American state—that state of ecstasy.
In all the combinations of languages, it would make sense to discover how the inimitable Esperanto describes the actual fluid of come. This word “c^uro” to describe human sperm tells us nothing of those who speak Esperanto, yet it seems essential to mention. In that amalgamation of a language, that hybrid beast of multiple backs, one can imagine dancing away during crepuscular times and launching.
But why all of these different terms? Why all of this confusion across time zones, borders and oceans? I advise learning the correct vernacular term of a region so you can scream it out or give far warning if you hope to coordinate and be in sync. But if you aren’t one for languages or simply aren’t kind enough, just scream, cheer “huzzah,” grip it, and let ‘er rip.
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