Funny animal comic book stories are restricted in several ways when it comes to morality. As any other artist Carl Barks was subject to moral codes (see more HERE), and one of them was the prohibition of Swearing and Cursing*. But nevertheless Barks used some swearing words from time to time. Undoubtedly, he used most of them without even reflecting on them twice, because they were a natural part of his language at the time, and none of them could certainly compare to today's so-called four-letter swearing words that speak more of the utterer's level of intelligence than anything else!
In this page you are presented to examples of swearing idioms in text as well as graphics, most of which will probably not even lift an eyebrow of readers of today....

* The term Swearing has opposite basic meanings; it can either be perceived as a positive thing such as a solemn declaration resulting in an oath, or it can be perceived as a negative thing such as a major irritation resulting in profanity. This page solely refers to the latter group!






Hogwash is kind of a crappy expression that is rarely used today. A corresponding - and considerably more straightforward - term that means the same is, uh, Bullshit...
My Lands to Goshen is basically a mild oath meaning Goodness Gracious or words to that effect. The term, which refers to an ancient agricultural region in Egypt occupied by the Israelites before their Exodus, is used several times by Uncle Scrooge and Grandma Duck with slight deviations such as Land(s) to Goshen.
is used to express disbelief, disappointment, or a strong dislike for something. Barks used the word several times, and it is interesting that his elusive fourth nephew was indeed dubbed Phooey by the public wit (see more HERE).




What the Sam Hill is an old slang phrase and euphemism for the Devil or Hell. The origin is unknown, but several hundred years old, and Barks used the expression occasionally.
Golly and Gosh are both exclamations foremost expressing great surprise or negative dismay. They are both euphemisms for God (thus should not be spoken in vain) and were used by Barks along with several other, corresponding exclamations such as Good Gracious, Good Grief, Goodness, Goodness Me, and My Goodness Gracious Sakes.
What the Dickens is informally an old euphemism for the Devil (parallel to the exclamation What the Hell) and has nothing whatsoever to do with the British author Charles Dickens! This is easy to prove, because the expression was first used by the British author William Shakespeare in his play 'Merry Wives of Windsor' 200 years before Dickens was born. Apparently, Barks was quite fond of the expression; at least he used it more than 20 times in his stories...





The concept of Hell in swearing mode was frequently paraphrased by Barks. He used the powerful reference in numerous disarming ways and more innocent contexts, but the fact remains, that all the terms mentioned above (and more) are swearing words.




No funny animal comic book would allow the reader to actually read the explicit, nasty words that may escape a character when swearing. So swearing is often illustrated by substituting text with assorted symbols: lightning, bombs, stars, skull and crossbones, and much more, in order to indicate that the character is swearing. Barks used this method very sparingly.
Surprisingly, it is known when this type of profanity paraphrasing consisting of random compositions of diverse symbols started. It happened in 1902 in the immensely popular series 'The Katzenjammer Kids' (see more
HERE), when a sailor uncle called Heinie tried to get verbally even with the unrestrained and ill-mannered kids.





Graphics can be used as suggestive means for describing the act of swearing without any actual swear words present. Barks used this option from time to time. Above is a collection of quite diverse types of examples that clearly demonstrates the persons' states of mind. 





It would appear that the Ducks could differentiate between good and foul language - and were prepared to point it out. In this story a nephew reprimands his agitated uncle for using 'salty language'! Goodness gracious...

  Date 2013-10-25