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By God’s Nails! Careful how your curse


NYCKY

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I came across this interesting article about swear/curse words and how they change over the ages. It’s something a bit more lighthearted than some of the threads from the past week. That said, it is relevant given that this is a discussion site that has strict rules on language and it’s usage.

By God's Nails! A History of Cursing - WSJ.com

In the Middle Ages, cultural taboos were such that words we consider to be obscene today were perfectly acceptable, if direct. The c-word, for example, was found in medical texts, in literature, in the names of common plants and animals, in the names of streets and even in surnames. Sard and swive were the medieval equivalents of the f-word—direct, non-euphemistic words for copulation. Far from being feared and censored, though, sard appears in a 950 translation from the Lindisfarne Gospels, in which Christ commands "Don't sin, and don't sard another man's wife" (Matthew 5:27).
The real medieval obscenities were religious oaths. A phrase such as "by God's nails" was one of the most shocking and indeed most dangerous things a person could say in this era. Oaths by God's body parts, such as "by God's arms" or "by the blood of Christ," were thought to be able to injure Christ's physical body as he sat at the right hand of God in heaven.
While the shock value of some words is declining today, our repertoire of epithets will probably expand. In America it is becoming increasingly taboo to sum up or "essentialize" people, as epithets do, whether by size (fat), disability (cripple), or mental acuity (retard).
I can’t see the old ones coming back as in, go sard yourself or you motherswiver. That said I fee there are two issues here, the increased prevalence of swearing in general discourse. I noticed that swearing is much more common than ever on the broadcast media but gets censored on sites like p.ie. The second issue is the influence of political correctness, in that many words we used to use like retard, mongol, dummy etc are now off limits. Years, ago if you called someone a fcking retard, it was the f-bomb that was offensive, nowadays it is the retard part that is offensive.

Is the social media behind on this? In the future could we see p.ie and others censoring words like retard and not censoring the f-bombs?
 
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ShoutingIsLeadership

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First they came for g€€bag, and because I wasn't a g€€bag, I did nothing...
 

Mercurial

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The swear-filter on p.ie exists in order to make the site accessible given that some software prevents people from accessing pages with certain words.
 

Deep Blue

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Once upon a time a man excused himself if he swore in front of women or children, and there was something sweet and chivalrous about that I think. I've never heard my Mother utter a swear word in my life.
Swearing was loutish, and considered only for 'Navvies'.

Now everyone lets rip everywhere with obscenities, and they have no impact any more, or shock value.

Taboos have changed completely; TV and Cinema might have something to do with it, I don't know.

Mrs. Browne's Boys (may God forgive me for saying those words:oops:) is on every schoolchild's Facebook favourites list today.
Their favourite signature is 'Fukk knows, Google it'

Just a coarsening of Society and general Yobbism I suppose....
 
R

Ramps

Once upon a time a man excused himself if he swore in front of women or children, and there was something sweet and chivalrous about that I think. I've never heard my Mother utter a swear word in my life.
Swearing was loutish, and considered only for 'Navvies'.
100% agree...and I use bad language all the time! It's only when I hear others using it that I realise how unattractive it is.
 

Deep Blue

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Years, ago if you called someone a fcking retard, it was the f-bomb that was offensive, nowadays it is the retard part is offensive.
"Ya dirty Arab" was a great one where I grew up...
 

Deep Blue

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100% agree...and I use bad language all the time! It's only when I hear others using it that I realise how unattractive it is.
Have to admit I swear too, but only when really stressed or annoyed which in fairness is too, too often.

In the UK they use the 'twat' word as a term of endearment almost, whereas here...

Never cursed as a child or teenager; but driving does it to you also I think....you're cocooned in the car and can give vent to it all, and it becomes a habit....

And like you, especially when I hear mothers do it in front of kids, I feel ashamed of myself !
 

Deep Blue

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This puzzles me:

Americans never, ever swear in general converstion like we do, yet their films are peppered with 'Muthafukka' etc.

Why are they (generally) so much less profane than we are?

English Catholics are also very proper, and are mortified by public cursing; so what is it with us?
 

Cellach

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This puzzles me:

Americans never, ever swear in general converstion like we do, yet their films are peppered with 'Muthafukka' etc.

Why are they (generally) so much less profane than we are?

English Catholics are also very proper, and are mortified by public cursing; so what is it with us?
Further demonstrating the power invested in language by the pre-modern Irish, the English word 'curse' according to Patrick Power in The Book of Irish Curses (1974) appears to have been borrowed from Gaelic, strange as that may seem. It derives from the word cursachadh, a word which is no longer found in the language. Cursachadh meant abuse in the ninth century. It then fell into disuse in Gaelic and found a permanent home in English.
“Begrudgery and Brehon Law: A Short Literary History of Resentment in Ireland.” | Stephen Graf - Academia.edu

Cos we invented it?
 

Carlos Danger

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This puzzles me:

Americans never, ever swear in general converstion like we do, yet their films are peppered with 'Muthafukka' etc.

Why are they (generally) so much less profane than we are?

English Catholics are also very proper, and are mortified by public cursing; so what is it with us?
There was a linguist on the LateLate years ago, maybe 25 yrs ago. She had travelled the English speaking world studying various linguistic idiosynchrocies. When Gay asked her what she found most memorable about Dublin, she said that there was a fascination with the addition of "fúckin'" to polysyllabic words - abso~fúckin~lutely, terri~fúckin~fyin'. She gave several examples, much to Gaybo's chagrin.

I have spent a long time in the southern US, and in general conversation, you're right in saying that there is an absence of profanity. However, scratch the surface, and sonuvabitch and sheeit are as common in the vernacular as hello and awesome.
 

Deep Blue

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Golly...

There was a linguist on the LateLate years ago, maybe 25 yrs ago. She had travelled the English speaking world studying various linguistic idiosynchrocies. When Gay asked her what she found most memorable about Dublin, she said that there was a fascination with the addition of "fúckin'" to polysyllabic words - abso~fúckin~lutely, terri~fúckin~fyin'. She gave several examples, much to Gaybo's chagrin.

I have spent a long time in the southern US, and in general conversation, you're right in saying that there is an absence of profanity. However, scratch the surface, and sonuvabitch and sheeit are as common in the vernacular as hello and awesome.
You're darn tootin' right!:)
 

amsterdemmetje

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"Pillow case right off" or something to that affect was something I read on a thread a while back.Does anyone remember who said it.
 

NYCKY

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The swear-filter on p.ie exists in order to make the site accessible given that some software prevents people from accessing pages with certain words.
Thanks Mercurial. I really wasn't aware of that but that is more of a technical issue. The question basically still stands. As swearing becomes more prevalent, will the online editing be reduced?
 

NYCKY

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This puzzles me:

Americans never, ever swear in general converstion like we do, yet their films are peppered with 'Muthafukka' etc.

Why are they (generally) so much less profane than we are?

English Catholics are also very proper, and are mortified by public cursing; so what is it with us?

I think profanity has increased among Americans but yes its definitely not in the League of the Irish.
 

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