One thing that jumps out at me about Cotton Comes to Harlem is all the mother-raping profanity. I’m assuming Himes had to put it that way because he couldn’t get away with the F-bomb. Or maybe the publisher changed it for him. I wonder though: Did people ever actually talk that way? I hear people say effing or freaking in real-life conversation – was it a term like that? Or was it like the “Flip you!” that people only use in edited for TV movies. Interestingly (or should I say Unfortunately?), if Himes used the proper swear word I wouldn’t have even noticed it, but the euphemism becomes a distraction pretty quickly.
Google shows some other euphemisms for the same term in the Routledge Dictionary of Modern American Slang Edited By Tom Dalzell and The F-Word by Jesse Sheidlower and Lewis Black. Acceptable alternatives include motherseller, motorcycle, motor flicker, and motor scooter. What would happen if Samuel L. Jackson had to talk like that?