Help me locate resources on the philosophy of language as it relates to swering.
February 9, 2007 1:16 PM   Subscribe

Could you point me to resources that discuss the philosophy of language such that it relates to cussing/cursing/swearing?

Bonus points if it comes from a so-called post modernist thinker.
posted by matkline to Religion & Philosophy (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

These might get you started...
  1. Natalie Angier Almost Before We Spoke, We Swore. New York Times (Late Edition (east Coast)) [serial online]. September 20, 2005:F.1.
  2. Scanlon, Joan Bad language vs bad prose? Lady Chatterley and The Well. The Critical Quarterly [serial online]. 1996;38:3.
  3. Cursing Is Hardly New, But It's Tough to Know Exactly What Was Said. Wall Street Journal (Eastern Edition) [serial online]. June 16, 2004: B.1.
  4. Oh, #@*$! Psychology Today [serial online]. May 1994;27:20-21.

posted by sswiller at 1:34 PM on February 9, 2007

As for books, try The link between language and consciousness: a practical philosophy, The anatomy of swearing, and Swearing: A Social History of Foul Language, Oaths and Profanity in English. The price of the first book is pretty steep at Amazon, but you could easily get it through interlibrary loan.

As for articles, try Eruptive Voices: Coprolalia, Malediction, and the Poetics of Cursing. By: Brown, Kate E.; Kushner, Howard I. New Literary History, Summer2001, Vol. 32 Issue 3, p537, 26p. and A few good words for bad words.(power of taboo language). Edmund J. Farrell. English Journal 89.5 (May 2000): p17(3).
posted by cog_nate at 1:49 PM on February 9, 2007

posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:07 PM on February 9, 2007

an interesting (if somewhat tangential) tidbit:
a chimp named washoe was taught american sign language starting in the 1960s; she developed her own version of swearing by signing the word "dirty" before the name of the person she was annoyed at. (see last paragraph of this article for some info.
i also remember hearing that koko the gorilla would say "toilet" to indicate displeasure, but my google fu failed me on that one.
posted by twistofrhyme at 2:20 PM on February 9, 2007

There was a pretty interesting piece on NPR about this topic a couple of weeks ago. You can listen online. It focuses primarily on the use of slurs rather than curse words, but is an interesting discussion of 'taboo' language in general. Definitely worth checking out.
posted by honeyx at 9:21 PM on February 9, 2007

twistofrhyme: I've also heard anecdotes that when they watched koko interact with her ... trainers, I guess ... and write down all the signs they knew, the Deaf observer didn't write any down, and said Koko was only gesturing (language being more than just gesturing).

Obviously this anecdote - and the observer's original reaction - may be culturally influenced, so take it with a grain of salt, but the point is that not everyone agrees that non-humans can use full languages like ASL.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 10:36 PM on February 9, 2007

Bonus points if it comes from a so-called post modernist thinker.

Judith Butler's Excitable Speech fits that bill, for certain values of 'postmodern.'
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:16 PM on February 10, 2007

« Older Riding the short-bus   |   Does a reliable credit monitoring service exist? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.