The Chicago Tribune

October 24, 2005

Off-color Maledicta back in all its foul glory

by James Warren

Foul language has never left us, but Maledicta did. So, with joy and utter civility, we must welcome it back!

Maledicta was a wonderful, unavoidably off-color but serious journal devoted to harsh language as a window onto society. One man's labor of love, it billed itself as the "International Journal of Verbal Aggression."

Its expertise was the vulgar, blasphemous and downright obscene when it came to words, phrases and images. Its editor-publisher, Reinhold Aman, has a doctorate from the University of Texas in medieval literature and German philology.

But seven years ago, a perfect storm of maladies struck him: clinical depression, a heart attack, triple-bypass surgery and poor finances. He closed up but has now returned, cranking out what's labeled as "Volume XIII, 1997-2004" from his stomping grounds in Santa Rosa, Calif.

He's back with a wonderfully engaging set of articles, including an analysis of German traffic fines based on foul language uttered at meter maids. "Stupid cow" earned a 300-Euro penalty, compared with 1,000 Euros for "you slut" and 2,500 for "old pig." As for insulting cops, "you masturbator" cost a fellow 1,000 Euros, while "moron wearing a uniform" brought a 1,500-Euro levy. [Note: 1.00 Euro = approx. $1.20. -- R.A.]

An analysis of "How to Decipher Personals Ads" is wonderful, with his interpretation following the words used. For women: "40-ish" (49), "Adventurous" (slept with everybody), "average looking" (has a face like a basset hound) and "wants soul mate" (stalker). As for men, "40-ish" (52 and looking for 25-year-old), "athletic" (watches a lot of NASCAR), "friendship first" (as long as friendship involves sex), "poet" (wrote ex-girlfriend's name on a bathroom stall) and "mature" (older than your father).

This really is a feast of an issue, including Romani insults, quotes from American athletes, vocabulary from a West Indian men's room and terms of lust found in Theodore Dreiser's diaries. There's much more, with contributions from language experts worldwide. It's a labor of love available for $20 a year via P.O. Box 14123, Santa Rosa, CA 95402.

Its Web site is .

And with its return, let's all join in these two four-letter words: Good luck!

Copyright © 2005 by James Warren and The Chicago Tribune
All Rights Reserved.


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