A Cursory History of Swearing

4:30 pm, Saturday, May 22, 2010

Location: meet up in tearoom, move to Ryerson

Lecture by Michaela Jandacek

Abstract:

– Overview of some of the crazier academic theories about swearing.
– Setting a precedent: some pre-English cursing. Dirty Latin words and the like.
– Old English: the origins of our swearing in formal oaths and curses, and the taboos surrounding them.
– Swearing in Middle English: the rise of (weird) sexual curses, the evolution of word meanings, and (even more) religious taboos. Also, borrowing words from the French.
– Religious revivals, religious oaths… and Shakespeare. (Sblood! Zounds!)
– Flyting.
– Victorian avoidance, euphemism, and – by Jupiter! – hypocrisy.
– The divergence of British, Australian, and American cursing customs. Bloody hell!
– The gradual rise to mainstream acceptance of cursing during the 20th century — but wait, you can’t say that on television!
– Today’s mixed messages regarding swearing: paranoia, censorship, boundaries, and widespread usage
– Just for fun:
— timeline of first recorded usage of certain words
— the weirdest minced oaths and euphemisms to come out of the 19th century
— The Scunthorpe Problem
— the etymology, family tree, and evolution of the word “fuck,” and its use as (nearly) every part of speech.

Language warning on the talk and video thereof.

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One Response to “A Cursory History of Swearing”

  1. Tea Matcha - How to whisk matcha green tea without a "chasen"? Says:

    […] A Cursory History of Swearing « Tea Room Lecture Series […]

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