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Thread: The history of swear words?

  1. #1
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    Default The history of swear words?

    I am not trying to be silly or anything, I am purely, honestly, truthfully, curious about the origination of swearing. Anyone with a reply that might get this thread closed, please please dont post it. So does anyone know how swearing originated?

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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    I'll be darned if I know. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/icon15.gif[/img]

    Larry

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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    This is an interesting linguistic topic!

    Profanity is as old as language itself. By definition, it is "word choice or usage which its audience considers to be offensive."

    Profanity serves as cartharsis after an unpleasant event, or to express anger, frustration, or some other strong emotion.

    It is also deliberately used for shock value. It's somewhat overused by comedians for this purpose. If somebody were to tell a dirty joke substituting clinical terms for body parts or naughty acts instead of the four-letter words, some of the humor would be degraded.

    Profanity is language and culture specific. Most Americans wouldn't blink an eye at the use of terms like "bl00dy" or "w@nker", but that would be frowned upon in polite company in England. And if one is fluent in another language, watching dubbed films demonstrates that profanity doesn't always translate very well.

    On a more humorous note, there are several examples of car names having to be changed for certain markets.

    The Mitsubishi Pajero was renamed for the Argentina/Chile market. (naughty male body part connotation)

    The Honda Fitta was renamed for the Norwegian/Swedish market. (naughty female body part connotation)

    A dispassionate, but not surprisingly profanity-laden essay is available at Wikipedia (that is, the article mentions a bunch of naughty words, because it's *about* naughty words):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Profanity

    If you don't like naughty words, don't follow the link.

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    Flashaholic* Beamhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    Most were slang/derogatory terms that evolved over time, some are quite old and their evolution has been ongoing.
    Others are rumored to have come from acronyms used during centuries old monarchies.

    Search the Internet and you will find some interesting info.

    At any rate this could be a quick to close thread.

    So tread softly.
    [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/rolleye11.gif[/img]

  5. #5

    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    The definition of swear has two meanings... one is positive dealing with giving loyalty or making an oath based upon a diety or something of great value. The other is essentially cursing, swearing at someone, which if related to a diety would be blasphemy. My guess is a lot of original swear words/phrases equate to cursing and blasphemy and have to do with disrespect in some fashion of something religious. This filtered down over the years to add in just plain disrespect of someone or something using words that are either a perversion of standardly accepted language or that are to mean such using standard words in other fashions.. slang would fall in the category if used in a negative fashion I would think.

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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    As a communication tool I find them succinct.

    Leadfoot

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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    Well, this isn't a swear *word*, but it's along those lines.

    The history of the middle finger being offensive goes back hundreds years ago to the "Robbin Hood" days when the most valuable unit in an army was the longbow men. In both defensive and offensive attacks, the longbow men were the key to most victories in war. During that time period there were many battles fought to protect/capture land and kingdoms (I admit, this is very plain and sketchy, but it's not the point of the story anyway). The prevailing 'team', was, you guessed it, the British. When the British would attack/takeover/conquer an area, they would take the enemies prisoner and cut off the middle fingers of everyone they found from the other 'team'. Why? Because the middle finger was needed to accuratly use a longbow (the most vital part of an army remember). That finger in particular, is the strongest finger on your hand and is needed to pull the strings back on one of the massive bows (them not being able to fire a longbow then cripples their army). As for why the middle finger is considered offensive in these times, it's because the British (after a battle or fight or whatever) would walk around holding up the middle finger towards their opponents as to mock them / show off and say "Ha Ha, you lost the battle, we're the winner's, you suck". The same idea has just evolved over time to the point where it's at now.

    Anyway, there's a brief (and terrible) hostory lesson on why the middle finger is considered offensive. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    [ QUOTE ]
    Hookd_On_Photons said:
    This is an interesting linguistic topic!

    Profanity is as old as language itself. By definition, it is "word choice or usage which its audience considers to be offensive."

    Profanity serves as cartharsis after an unpleasant event, or to express anger, frustration, or some other strong emotion.

    It is also deliberately used for shock value. It's somewhat overused by comedians for this purpose. If somebody were to tell a dirty joke substituting clinical terms for body parts or naughty acts instead of the four-letter words, some of the humor would be degraded.

    Profanity is language and culture specific. Most Americans wouldn't blink an eye at the use of terms like "bl00dy" or "w@nker", but that would be frowned upon in polite company in England. And if one is fluent in another language, watching dubbed films demonstrates that profanity doesn't always translate very well.

    On a more humorous note, there are several examples of car names having to be changed for certain markets.

    The Mitsubishi Pajero was renamed for the Argentina/Chile market. (naughty male body part connotation)

    The Honda Fitta was renamed for the Norwegian/Swedish market. (naughty female body part connotation)

    A dispassionate, but not surprisingly profanity-laden essay is available at Wikipedia (that is, the article mentions a bunch of naughty words, because it's *about* naughty words):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Profanity

    If you don't like naughty words, don't follow the link.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Thanks! Wikipedia is so useful. Maxa, thanks for the middle finger info! I was about to ask for that one too. And everyone else, thank you for not getting this thread shut down. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grinser2.gif[/img]

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    Flashaholic* Unicorn's Avatar
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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    Then there are the ones that are actually curses. Darn you, meaning may you be condemmed to hell by God.

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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    I haven't read it, but there's a book by Geoffrey Hughes, "Swearing: a social history of foul language, oaths, and profanity in English." If you want to read it, and your library doesn't have it, ask if they can get it through an interlibrary loan.

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    Flashaholic Mednanu's Avatar
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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    [ QUOTE ]
    Mags said:...So does anyone know how swearing originated?

    [/ QUOTE ]
    Ah yes, it all started eons ago with the invention of the hammer when it met the thumb for the very first time in human history. I think the exact phraseology went something like, "mother@#&$ingsonuva@&$?#" ! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/icon15.gif[/img]

    As the gentleman who first uttered these words was likely to have been a construction worker, it also explains why you'll generally find the most prolific and adroitly spoken colorful language emanating from construction sites around the globe. Having done a little myself, I can say that "Oh Darn" just doesn't capture the zeitgeist of the moment after you've kissed your thumb with a heavy blunt object moving at high speed.

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    Flashaholic* Pellidon's Avatar
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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    Lets flip back to the finger. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/jpshakehead.gif[/img] I beleive also in Britan that the display of two fingers with the back of the hand to the intended target is another swipe showing the receiver that "see I won and have both my fingers, push off". It is definitely different in meaning from the victory sign which is the same two fingers palm showing out.

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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    There's a whole bunch of different hand gestures that can be absolutely innocent in one culture, but very, umm, disrespectful in others.

    Examples IIRC, are:
    - the thumbs up, like for hitching a ride. Thumb up where!?!
    - the palm raised, as in "talk to the hand." (rude in one culture, obscene in others)
    - the thumb and index finger in the "OK" gesture. Has w-hole 'nother meaning depending on where you are on the planet.
    - the index and little finger raised as in the Texas Longhorns. The devil, you say!
    - the little finger raised, as in being "dainty." A little too dainty for some folks' tastes (to each his own).

    A friend of mine has a sister who moved to the southwest US and got a job as a waitress. She learned the hard way that you should not ask customers how their "huevos" are, when you really meant to ask if they liked the Huevos Rancheros they ordered for breakfast. Lot of sprayed coffee over the table.

    There are businesses that teach world travelers what to do and not to do, to avoid making insulting remarks or gestures by accident. Don't show the bottom of your feet in some cultures and in others never eat with your left hand or offer your left hand to someone to shake.

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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    About thirty years ago I had the opportunity to hitch hike around England with a buddy. It took us a few days to realize it was not the peace sign being flashed at us by those people who were not stopping.

    Geoff

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    Flashaholic* SolarFlare's Avatar
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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    I'm @&$%#£ sure I only pressed ok once [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thinking.gif[/img]

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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    Here is a good page from the good'ol BBC which might shed some light on english swear words, I believe the two fingers up originated from english archers showing the french that they still had the ability to draw their bows, as when captured the french used to kindly remove these 2 digits from the archers hands [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/icon15.gif[/img]

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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    Thank you everyone! I found a funny video called "The history of the F-word". I dont think I should post it since it actually has the word and is used a lot. If you do want to see it, PM me and I will send it to you. Anyway, I never knew swearing could have originated from such a long time ago.

    [ QUOTE ]
    Flying Turtle said:
    About thirty years ago I had the opportunity to hitch hike around England with a buddy. It took us a few days to realize it was not the peace sign being flashed at us by those people who were not stopping.

    Geoff

    [/ QUOTE ]

    So their middle finger is our peace sign?

  18. #18
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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    I think the US air waves are the most sensored where as other countries allow 4 letter words and nudity on tv.

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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    [ QUOTE ]
    Mags said:
    Thank you everyone! I found a funny video called "The history of the F-word". I dont think I should post it since it actually has the word and is used a lot. If you do want to see it, PM me and I will send it to you. Anyway, I never knew swearing could have originated from such a long time ago.



    [/ QUOTE ]

    video or audio? i have an audio on the history of F--- (not sure if its all true or not but sure it sure is funny!). i got this like years ago. a video would be interesting though~

  20. #20
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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    Just be careful about what you believe ... Word etymologies are extremely fertile grounds for urban legends and old wives' tales. One of these baloney tales is that the f-word somehow comes from an acronym. It doesn't. In fact, you can pretty much bet that anything that you heard about word origins via a forwarded e-mail message is false. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/icon23.gif[/img]

    The language page at Snopes.com is a good place to start in order to check out the veracity of various word "origins." The truth is that the vast majority of words in English--obscenities included--are very old and have un-clever origins.

  21. #21
    Flashaholic* PhantomZ's Avatar
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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    i came across this when i was cleaning out my email.

    Giving the Finger

    Before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French,
    anticipating victory over the English, proposed to
    cut off the middle finger of all captured English
    soldiers. Without the middle finger it would be
    impossible to draw the renowned English longbow
    and therefore be incapable of fighting in the future.
    This famous weapon was made of the native English
    Yew tree, and the act of drawing the longbow was
    known as "plucking the yew" (or "pluck yew").
    Much to the bewilderment of the French, the English
    won a major upset and began mocking the French by
    waving their middle fingers at the defeated French,
    saying, "See, we can still pluck yew! "PLUCK YEW!"
    Since 'pluck yew' is rather difficult to say, the difficult
    consonant cluster at the beginning has gradually
    changed to a labiodental fricative 'F', and
    thus the words often used in conjunction with the
    one-finger-salute are mistakenly thought to have
    something to do with an intimate encounter.
    It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the
    arrows used with the longbow that the symbolic
    gesture is known as "giving the bird".

  22. #22
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    Default Re: The history of swear words?

    That makes a lotta sense! I wonder how my teachers would react to this?

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