Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ah, dang. On profanity and taboo words.

According to the book Forbidden Words: Taboo and the Censoring of Language, the first written texts 5,000 years ago included jokes about bodily functions, and surely there was something to swear about prior to that, in oral times (“She said oral!”). Shakespeare, friend of parent councils, made his point with a few well-placed blasphemes, like “zounds” (God’s wounds) and “sblood” (God’s blood).

Taboo words are those that violate social constraints, and their effect isn’t just poetic, but physical. Swearing can cause the heart to race and the hairs on the back of one’s arms to stand up. It’s a Type A trait: People who swear are more likely to be characterized by extroversion and dominance. Maybe this is why a woman who curses has a certain allure; she’s staking a claim in power.

I understand the double meaning of the word “swear” as an expression of sincerity and truth – a heartfelt oath – which a good curse session usually is. Swearing is also a function of comfort, best undertaken selectively in safe, secure situations, among (certain) friends, and rarely at work. It’s the impulse that must be liberated appropriately, and reined in usually, since it’s nestled so close to violence in the psyche.



Angier also notes that swearing is a widespread but perhaps underappreciated anger management technique; that "men generally curse more than women, unless said women are in a sorority, and that university provosts swear more than librarians or the staff members of the university day care center"; and that linguistic research has shown that the physiological reactions of individuals who are proud of their education are similar between exposure to obscene words and exposure to bad grammar.[7]

Keele University researchers Stephens, Atkins, and Kingston found that swearing relieves the effects of physical pain.[8] Stephens said "I would advise people, if they hurt themselves, to swear".[9] However, the overuse of swear words tends to diminish this effect.[9] The team earned themselves the Ig Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for the research.


D - and a look at Tourette's Syndrome.

Tourette's was once considered a rare and bizarre syndrome, most often associated with the exclamation of obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks (coprolalia), but this symptom is present in only a small minority of people with Tourette's.[1]

Coprolalia is involuntary swearing or the involuntary utterance of obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks. Coprolalia comes from the Greek κόπρος (kopros) meaning "feces" and λαλιά (lalia) from lalein, "to talk".[1] The term is often used as a clinomorphism, with 'compulsive profanity' inaccurately referred to as being Tourette syndrome.

Related terms are copropraxia, performing obscene or forbidden gestures,[2] and coprographia, making obscene writings or drawings.[3]

D - is in "scat" I guess.

D - I don't want my site blocked by censor software. Basically, swear words can be blasphemous, reference unpleasant bodily functions or degrade an identifiable social group.
Again, a language needs to be able to encompass all these functions.
A decent aux-lang can do so with a minimal need to learn new vocabulary.
I grew up not knowing any ethnic or racial slurs. To this day I remain a bit unsure of the appropriate terms.

...ethnic slurs (ethnophaulisms) that are, or have been, used as insinuations or allegations about members of a given ethnicity or to refer to them in a derogatory (critical or disrespectful), pejorative (disapproving or contemptuous), or insulting manner in the English-speaking world

D - I AM annoyed that slurs against male WASPS are more acceptable than other ones.

According to the white etymology, honky is derived from “bohunk” and ... The Wolof term honky is alleged to derive from honq, which means “red or pink,” a term ...

D - thus 'honky tonk' I guess.

One theory is that slaver foremen in the antebellum South used bullwhips to discipline African slaves, with such use of the whip being described as 'cracking the whip'. The white foremen who cracked these whips were thus known as 'crackers'.

kid (n.)
c.1200, "the young of a goat," from a Scandinavian source (cf. O.N. kið "young goat"), from P.Gmc. *kiðjom (cf. O.H.G. kizzi, Ger. kitze, Dan., Swed. kid). Extended meaning of "child" first recorded as slang 1590s, established in informal usage by 1840s. Applied to skillful young thieves and pugilists since at least 1812. Kid stuff "something easy" is from 1913 (The phrase was in use about that time in reference to vaudeville acts or advertisements featuring children, and to children-oriented features in newspapers). Kid glove "a glove made of kidskin leather" is from 1680s; sense of "characterized by wearing kid gloves," therefore "dainty, delicate" is from 1856.

D - we don't think about this term being essentially disrespectful. Though I've been known to use the term 'rug-rat' sometimes too.

D - funny how we say 'atheist' and not 'atheistic person', but we say 'religious person'. We also say humanist. Perhaps we should also say religist.

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