There is a lively feature today, A brief history of four letter words. It deals with the evolution of profanity. HT to Andrew Sullivan. Examples of wirty dords will be used in this feature. If such language offends you, please skip the text, and enjoy the pictures. These pictures are from The Library of Congress. These pictures were taken on the USS Brooklyn, where the men would swear like sailors.
“Golly! Zounds! Gadzooks! These are the kind of things Captain Marvel would say. Almost any other superhero would be too mature for such, childish silly words. And yet, during Shakespeare’s time, they made him one of the more edgy writers out there. They’re not just random sounds, but contractions, meant to make absolutely shocking sentiments less outright obscene. Golly, zounds, and gadzooks were, in order, G-d’s body, G-d’s wounds, and G-d’s hocks.” The spell check suggestion for Gadzooks is Bazookas.
The body of G-d, or Jesus, is a big deal to some varieties of Christians. When Shakespeare was in business, it was even more so. Religious profanity is less and less explosive, as bumper sticker’s about G-d’s last name might indicate. When Europe was fighting wars about the best way to worship, this talk about God’s Ham was explosive.
The third commandment refers to the proper use of sacred names. It’s application is in the ear of the beholder. PG thinks that a pledge of allegiance to a political symbol is not a proper use of a holy name, and almost no one agrees with him. And PG is notoriously non Christian.
There is a book, “The Whisper of the River , about a baptist reared young man who goes to college. A yankee neighbor says “good G-d a mighty”. The raised right young man calls him out about “using the name of the Lord in vain”.
In another real life, PG worked for many years with a professional Jesus worshiper. The experience severely PG from Jesus. One of the favorite sayings of the PJW was “good G-d a mighty”,
Some people think they are being righteous by not using certain words. The truth is that profanity is a social standard. G-d has better things to worry about than what words people use to describe procreation. All of the Carlin seven appear in the Bible, in one of the many languages used.
Bitch and ass are two words that used to refer to animals. “Ass is actually two words blended together to become an obscenity. Ass, the swear word, started out as irs, which meant the back end of anything, not just animals. It became arse, and eventually rounded out and emerged as an ass.”
“Bitch started out, ” and remains, a female dog in breeding condition. From there its meaning expanded to anything female in breeding condition, and eventually it expanded to become promiscuous women, angry women, angry or promiscuous homosexual men, or anything “especially disagreeable.” Sliding between the slightly sexual, the slightly referring to sexuality, and the literal meaning of the word got bitch into general conversation, and most television shows. It also helps that being “especially disagreeable,” rather than meek and accommodating has become a point of pride for both women and male homosexuals, and so even at its most insulting, the word has lost the power to shock as society has moved on.”
Both bitch and ass have become more acceptable. Ass has a suffix, hole, which describes a (hopefully) functioning body part. This word is a serious insult. Names for genitalia also function, with remarkable versatility, as cuss words.
At the start of the Carlin seven is piss and shit. These created using onomatopoeia … a word that sounds like what it describes. They refer to excretion, both as noun and verb. Excrete is seldom used as profanity, even though it means the same thing. As time goes down the toilet, both piss and shit have acquired multiple meanings.
Which brings us to the F bomb. It is similar to the German Ficken or the Dutch Fokken. It almost certainly is NOT an acronym. Technically it is not one of the Carlin seven. If it is, then mother is a super cussword. With a profitable holiday in May, mother will always be said on television.
There is another forbidden word. It *triggers* strong reactions. If Mr. Carlin had used this word in his monolog, his career would have ended. This word was used by Mark Twain. It is used today by millions of people. Many people who use this this word are described by it. Our culture might be better off without this word, but America is stuck with it.