★ Buns of Yogurt ★ (vejiicakes) wrote,

The -fag suffix

Since I'm still on vacation, I've had plenty of time (in between snorkeling with sea turtles and sharks and ogling the locals...) to catch up on some reading. In doing so, discovered that the -fag suffix as a youth colloquialism pre-dated the internet age :D Somewhere around the '60s British prep schools.. or in some sort of upper-middle class Brit school system--I've always found it terribly convoluted anyway--though it probably got its start much earlier than that. Anyway, dustyjack's post reminded me to post this:

The fagging system was in the process of winding down when I arrived. Personal fags, of the kind found in public-school fiction, had become more or less extinct. Fags still had to run errands for pollies, but there was none of the toast-making, shoe-shining, study-tidying, bog-seat-warming, head-patting, thigh-stroking, buttock-fondling drudgery, slavery or abuse that I had dreaded. Fagging consisted essentially of communal chores, the most notable roles in which were to be morning fag, who had to wake the House (more on this later), and the unpleasantly named lav fag, who only had to sweep the corridors, and so far as I remember, had nothing to do with lavatories at all. The paper fag was obliged to go into town early in the morning, before breakfast, pick up the House's order of newspapers and deliver them to the studies. Another job was to go bringing up their messages to the House, that sort of thing. I can't remember what this duty was called--pigeonhole fag, I suppose, but again it is madness to expect logic, he might well have been called kitten fag, balloon fag or ethics fag for all I know.


That was an excerpt from Stephen Fry's autobiography Moab is My Washpot (wonderful read, by the way, you should totally check it out), describing his arrival at Uppingham. Of course being a different culture, it's reasonable to assume that their meaning behind the usage was different from our own. Still, it's there. Being used. All -fag suffixy. Interesting, no?

EDIT: The internet usage I'm referring to is the practice involving tacking the word "fag" onto the end of an adjective, like "artfag" or "writefag" or "musicfag"--generally, using it to mean "person" (also upending its contemporary connotations, using it because it's ironically offensive). Just so's you know.
Tags: language
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