Friday, November 18, 2005

More Useful Than Diagramming Sentences

"Gypped" is an offensive ethnic slur. Say "cheated" instead.

"Cursing" includes words such as the popular "four-letter" words (i.e. "shit," "fuck," and their variants, such as "shithead" and "motherfucker"), as well words such as "bitch," "bastard," and "asshole." Many of these words originated as coarse slang references to bodily functions and activities. While rough-sounding and uncouth, when used sparingly and subject to stringent time, place, and manner restrictions, these words serve as important pressure release valves in the English language, have rich histories, and can create striking conversational and literary effects.

"Blasphemy" is very different from, and far more severe than, "cursing." The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines blasphemy as "profane talk of something supposed to be sacred; impious irreverence." Expressions such as "G-- damn," or "J---- C-----!" shouted irreverently, are examples. Several different denominations' versions of the Ten Commandments include a prohibition of blasphemy. If you choose to use blasphemous words and phrases in public, be aware that some people find them at least as offensive as ethnic slurs.

Thanks, Ty, for that OED set. It was a wonderful present.

Thanks, Mr. W, for teaching me much of this very helpful information in high school. It was among the most practical stuff I learned there. This post's for you.

4 Comments:

Blogger ptg said...

What kind of OED set did you get? I have the old 2 volume microprint version that came with a magnifying glass.

6:20 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

It is totally interesting to me how the preferred insults in Germany mostly have to do with either shit or your ass or pigs, while many of the favorite derogatory statements in English include fuck or other coarse sexual references. Hmm.

6:56 AM  
Blogger ptg said...

German sex just isn't dirty enough for use in epithets, jessica, whereas their shit, asses and pigs are as dirty as anyone's.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Arabella said...

I got The New Shorter OED in two volumes, the Thumb Index Edition. The Preface is dated 1993. My parents had a wonderful American Heritage Dictionary when I was growing up that came with a magnifying glass that could be stored in the spine; I always thought that was the coolest thing.

Different cultures' insults fascinate me. I knew nothing about German insults. Many Italian insults involve implying that one's adversary (or one's adversary's wife) is unfaithful, or a whore.

I think I'm most partial to Shakespearean insults.

3:08 PM  

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