I heard it again today, “Frak,” yes there it is again. On this Wednesday’s Criminal Minds, Penelope Garcia, the Behavioral Analysis Unit’s Technician. Yes, OK she is a nerd and she would know were the word came from, but still, “Frak” is taking off. This last Monday, on May 12, on The Big Bang Theory’s episode The Plimpton Stimulation, Howard, after being propositioned by Dr. Elizabeth Plimpton, a cosmological physicist from Princeton University, exclaims “What the Frak!” Last year on 30 Rock, Salma Hyack wore a “What The Frak” shirt and refers to it. It is my firm belief that the word Frak will become television’s favorite explicative within the next few years.
Where the Frak did, “Frak” come from. Well for Battlestar Galactica fans, this is a no-brainer. With Ron Moore and David Eick’s 2004 re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, the show developed a swear word that the censors would let pass. Censors allow words like “ass” and “bitch,” as in “son of a bitch,” however, the “F” word is still not allowed. Well the censors allow Frak, and now we have a TV word that we can use for it. When Glenn Larson developed Battlestar Galactica in the late 70s, television audiences were not ready for swearing yet, so Larson develop words like, “Felgercarb,” which was a word that meant “crap.”
For years, Science Fiction television has introduced new swear words into the English language, however, very few have caught on. In 2002, Josh Wedon’s Firefly gave us a new word for “god damn,” the word “Gorram.” Firefly also gave us Morena Baccarin, now starring as the manipulative, conniving leader of “the Visitors,” on ABC’s V.
In 1999, the lesser known, but still hugely popular television series, Farscape, gave us “Frell,” used as either denoted the sex act or as an expletive for “hell,” frell just never caught on.
Even Star Wars films had swear words as well. The best-known word from the series is “Poodoo,” or “Bantha poodoo,” a term for crap. Only fans of the Lucas’s Star Wars universe are aware of this word, however, the public is oblivious.
In the late 70s most of my friends school friends started saying “Shazbot!” instead of “crap” or the “S” word. Robin Williams, as Mork from Mork and Mindy” used the “Shazbot” phrase in every episode and every 13-year old I knew was saying. Parents didn’t seem to mind either, as long as they weren’t saying the same swear words they were so it was OK.
We are in a new century now, and the English language is not dead, but a living breathing language that is still changing and evolving. Throughout the centuries, words, and meanings change, and as a language evolves, syllables will drop off, vowels shift, words disappear, and people create new words all the time. So, as the kids come home from school, muttering sounds that you don’t understand, don’t panic, just take a look online at the Urban Dictionary and tell your kids to Frak off and speak English.