How should I understand this line from Pulp Fiction?

9

Butch: You okay?

Marsellus: Naw man. I'm pretty fuckin' far from okay!

This is dialogue from the movie Pulp Fiction. What kind of the word class is "fuckin'" in the sentence: Participium or adjective? – The official translation of this sentence to my native language would probably be in English "I am pretty fucked," which, in my opinion, very properly and in the mode of black humor refers to the fact of Marsellu's having been raped.

Does the original English sentence have the similar connotation for English speakers?

bart-leby

Posted 2015-03-12T15:19:33.253

Reputation: 8 713

4http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intensifier – Kreiri – 2015-03-12T16:09:49.963

Answers

25

"Fuckin'" here is an intensifier, and it modifies "far". The meaning is the same as "very", with the added connotation of expressing contempt for social propriety, since "fuckin'" is vulgar. Since "far" is an adjective, "fuckin'" is an adverb, if it matters. (That's not a "word class", though, that's a part of speech: the role played by the word in a specific sentence.)

Rewording it without slang, it's:

I'm very far from okay.

I wouldn't reword it as "I am pretty fucked," at least if you're trying to understand what "fuckin'" means. The word "fuckin'" in the sentence has nothing to do with Marsellus's having been raped. This sense of "fuckin'" is just a general-purpose intensifier for anything. For example, "That was one fuckin' good cup of coffee." That means that the cup of coffee was very, very good.

Ben Kovitz

Posted 2015-03-12T15:19:33.253

Reputation: 25 752

Thank you. That is exactly what I wanted to know. The translator when using the english equivalent "I am pretty fucked up" showed his ability to elegantly paraphrase the original, even in the ruder and explicit way. – bart-leby – 2015-03-12T16:57:50.963

1Actually, I'd recommend rewording it to "I'm very, very far from OK." He's using "pretty" as an understatement. As evidenced by his later comment about "pliers and blowtorch". – WhatRoughBeast – 2015-03-12T23:40:35.707

@WhatRoughBeast Actually, I thought quite seriously about that! I went with one "very", partly to fit the spirit of understatement suggested by "pretty", partly to avoid confusing the main point, and partly to contrast with the "very, very" in the last sentence. :) – Ben Kovitz – 2015-03-12T23:48:03.703

0

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, a participle is an adjective (not all adjectives are participles though).

participle

a word formed from a verb (e.g., going, gone, being, been) and used as an adjective (e.g., working woman, burned toast) or a noun (e.g., good breeding). In English, participles are also used to make compound verb forms (e.g., is going, has been).

"Fucking" is not a participle in this case, as it is not being used in a context where "fucking" is an adjective form of a verb. "Fucking" is a modifier used as an adverb or adjective for emphasis.

And yes, it does mean something like "I am pretty fucked."

Rex

Posted 2015-03-12T15:19:33.253

Reputation: 149

Hmm, this might be another case where the grammar terminology from Latin doesn't fit English. It seems to me that "fucking" derives from "fuck" in the same way as any participle, like "bleeding" from "bleed". But English lets you use these "participles" in a special adverbial way, whereas the analogous constructions don't work in the Romance languages. (Or do they?) – Ben Kovitz – 2015-03-12T15:43:46.643

"fucking" (vulgar) can be used as an intensifying adverb just as "damned/bloody" meaning very/really/extremely. It is vulgar language and shows the speaker is angry, but it can also be used positively. The word is worth a study of its own because it can appear in positions that really astonish as in Jesus fucking Christ. – rogermue – 2015-03-12T19:38:06.733

@rogermue Indeed I think "abso-fuckin'-lutely" (to take another example) is a fine piece of evidence against theories of grammar that say it works by strict, syntactic rules and not by the full range of human cleverness. I hadn't even noticed before reading Rex's answer that these intensifiers technically violate the rules for participles. – Ben Kovitz – 2015-03-12T23:51:38.977

Fine example, Ben! Another example "I must have been insane! In-fucking-sane! – rogermue – 2015-03-13T03:08:39.080

1

@BenKovitz Tmesis - I love t-fuckin'-mesis. Abso-bloody-lutely. ;)

– gone fishin' again. – 2015-03-13T09:43:49.500

-1

The dialogue in question uses the word as an emphasizing adjective, but understanding infixation is instructive given the back and forth discussion on this page.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expletive_infixation

user29066

Posted 2015-03-12T15:19:33.253

Reputation: 1

This sounds a lot like a comment or reply to comments, rather than a complete answer on its own. Can you clean it up a bit to make that more plain? – Nathan Tuggy – 2016-01-19T05:17:55.560

fuck is THE ultimate verb that is given permission by its very nature to break ALL the rules. I refer you Monty Python's description of the word. My personal favorite in that video is the using it as virtually every word in a sentence yet still making your point: "Fuck the fucking fuckers!" – None – 2016-04-26T08:04:20.883