Fucking online chart
Very many of Bergen’s and Adams’s points, as they acknowledge, have been made in earlier books, an especially rich source being Melissa Mohr’s Holy Shit: A Brief History of Swearing (2013).Mohr even reads us the graffiti from the brothel in ancient Pompeii—disappointingly laconic (e.g., “I came here and fucked, then went home”), but good to know all the same.The philosopher Noel Carroll told me once of an international conference in Hanoi in 2006.On the first day, to break the ice, the Vietnamese and the Western scholars, taking turns, had a joke-telling contest.(Compare piss with pee, cunt with pussy.) It may be this tough-talk quality that accounts for certain widely recognized benefits of swearwords. In one widely cited experiment, subjects were instructed to plunge a hand into ice-cold water and keep it there as long as they could.
Fuck is what you need, the more so, Adams says, because it doesn’t just express an emotion; it states a philosophical truth.
Though research has not done much for profanity, the opposite is not true.
Neurologists have learned a great deal about the brain from studying how brain-damaged people use swearwords—notably, that they do use them, heavily, even when they have lost all other speech.
Many exclamations that now seem to us merely quaint were once “minced oaths.” Criminy, crikey, cripes, gee, jeez, bejesus, geez Louise, gee willikers, jiminy, and jeepers creepers are all to Christ and Jesus what frigging is to fucking.
The shock-shift from religion to sexual and bathroom matters was of course due primarily to the decline of religion, but Mohr points out that once domestic arrangements were changed so as to give people some privacy for sex and elimination, references to these matters became violations of privacy, and hence shocking.
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The very sound of obscenities—forget their sense—seems to ring a bell in us, as is clear from the fact that many of them sound alike.